ABC Duped?

August 29, 1997

John Stossel
ABC News
147 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10023

Dear Mr. Stossel:

The idea behind last night's JUNK SCIENCE show was wonderful! While I generally respect you, and the integrity of ABC News, your show began by labeling good science as junk science!?! Of all the groups you could have picked, why did you decide to play up the National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF)? It is a historical fact that Linus Pauling wrote his book, VITAMIN C AND THE COMMON COLD, precisely because of the untenable scientific positions of vocal people who are now current members of NCAHF (i.e., Victor Herbert.)

Instead of listing Pauling as a perpetrator of junk science, he should have been compared with Galileo, a truly great scientist who was crucified for taking a position that challenges the status quo. By classifying the vitamin C claims with other junk science, ABC news has, perhaps unwittingly, misinformed a great many people. The small Vitamin C Foundation was formed precisely to counter the forces that spread misinformation about vitamin C.

It is easy to prove that you fell into the trap of doing exactly what you are lambasting:

  1. Linus Pauling had no personal stake in the Vitamin C research. (As for being "out of his field", to the extent medicine is based on science, he is the father of medical research.) Linus Pauling wrote his book to better publicize other people's work, i.e., the 10,000 studies, reports and research papers that were carried out since the turn of the century that were then (and continue to be) ignored by the medical profession.

    Want proof? Pick up any modern medical or bio-chemistry text book and check the index. Look for any references to vitamin C. You would never know any of this research had been conducted. The result is that young medical students graduate ignorant about nutrition in general, and vitamin C in particular, yet medical doctors are the "experts" whose opinions are usually held up to counter Linus Pauling.

  2. Vitamin C research, past and present, threatens large pharmaceutical concerns (to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Heart disease alone is a 100 billion dollar "industry.") This is the motive for the real junk science that counters Vitamin C.

    It can be demonstrated that studying vitamin C is detrimental to ones career -- if one is a research scientist -- at least in the United States. We know of competent researchers who are unable to obtain grant money or new positions, apparently because they have devoted their careers to the study of vitamin C.

  3. Vitamin C's power to counteract the Common Cold is of relatively minor importance compared to its other attributes. However, it is easy for most people to evaluate this cold remedy for themselves. The reason Vitamin C is the number one selling nutrient is not because all people are easy to dupe. It is the largest selling nutrient because people can follow the recommendations of Pauling, and others, and experience the feeling of stopping a viral cold dead in its tracks -- at the cost of a few pennies. People soon learn that Medical science, as practiced by the NCAHF, must be junk science, especially when it tells us that there are no benefits from vitamin C regarding colds, or from other nutrients, that compete with pharmaceuticals, in general.
  4. You neglected to mention the numerous recent studies that support Pauling, including those which indicate anti-oxidants can retard the aging process, inhibit the formation of cancer and prevent heart disease. The 1992 Enstrom study at UCLA, for one, proves that people who took Pauling's advice increased their life expectancy by up to 6 years. Vitamin C is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants, and Pauling deserves credit for making the importance of this single nutrient known to the world.

While I applaud the rest of your report, you really have it backward regarding Linus Pauling. I hope you will consider clarifying the matter, perhaps with another more better balanced show on vitamin C and its numerous fully tested benefits including the Linus Pauling/Mathias Rath findings regarding vitamin C, Lp(a) and Heart Disease.

I am enclosing an article about "quackery" that I hope puts "Dr." Jarvis in another light. (Why you would consider the opinion of a William Jarvis important, especially over Linus Pauling, is beyond me.) Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and the enclosed report.

Yours truly,

Owen R. Fonorow
President (630) 416-1438,
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