Symposium participants

Edzard Ernst, MD, PhDEdzard Ernst, MD, PhD, assumed the position of Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter in 1993. A junior doctor in a homeopathic hospital and supporter of homeopathy and “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” (or “CAM”) himself, Ernst has become a vocal critic of modalities not supported by scientific evidence.  He argues that the term, “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” should not be used as an umbrella term and that a clear distinction should be made between these practices. In his 2008 book, Healing, Hype or Harm? A Critical Analysis of Complementary or Alternative Medicine, he looks at conventional medicine versus that of the alternative, stating “The worst medical doctor can cure diseases and save lives; the best alternative healer can only offer false hopes.” Dr. Ernst who with Simon Singh co-authored the best seller Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial retired from the University of Exeter this past summer, after producing more than 1,000 research papers. He continues to teach at the University on a part-time basis.

Harriet Hall, MDHarriet Hall, MD, also known as The SkepDoc, is a retired family physician who writes about alternative medicine, questionable medical practices, pseudoscience, and critical thinking. She received her BA and MD from the University of Washington, did her internship in the Air Force (the second female ever to do so), and was the first female graduate of the Air Force family practice residency at Eglin Air Force Base. During a long career as an Air Force physician, she held various positions from flight surgeon to DBMS (Director of Base Medical Services) and did everything from delivering babies to taking the controls of a B-52. She retired with the rank of Colonel. She is the author of Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon, a title inspired by the prejudiced comments of an airport official. She is a contributing editor to both Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer magazines, an advisor to the Quackwatch website, an Editorial Review Board member at Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, a founding fellow of the Institute for Science in Medicine, a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (formerly CSICOP), and a co-author of the textbook Consumer Health: 9th Edition, which is scheduled for publication in early 2012. Her website is www.skepdoc.info.

Paul Offit, MDPaul Offit, MD, is the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In addition, Dr. Offit is the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology and a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine. He is a recipient of many awards including the J. Edmund Bradley Prize for Excellence in Pediatrics from the University of Maryland Medical School, the Young Investigator Award in Vaccine Development from the Infectious Disease Society of America, a Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health, and most recently, the David E. Rogers Award given by the American Association of Medical Colleges. Dr. Offit has published more than 130 papers in medical and scientific journals in the areas of rotavirus-specific immune responses and vaccine safety. He is also the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq, recommended for universal use in infants by the Centers for Disease Control. As the leading advocate of childhood immunizations in the United States, Dr. Offit is one of the most public figures speaking out against the supposed relationship between vaccines and autism. His 2008 book entitled, Autism's False Prophets, triggered attacks from the anti-vaccine movement and garnered support from vaccine advocates.

Robert (Bob) Park, PhDRobert (Bob) Park, PhD, is Emeritus Professor of physics at the University of Maryland, College Park and a former Director of Public Information at the Washington office of the American Physical Society. Now a columnist for UMD’s website, What's New, Dr. Park discusses various topics, such as space exploration, energy, government role in science, pseudoscience, alternative medicine, and the creation/evolution debate. He has written op-eds and other articles on these topics for The New York Times, Newsday, USA Today, and The Washington Post. Dr. Park has made frequent appearances on The Colbert Report, Dateline NBC, and NBC News discussing alternative medicine and fraudulent claims. He has authored two widely acclaimed books, Voodoo Science and Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science. Dr. Park has been a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry since 2004.