The Quack List Ruleset is undergoing constant revision during Version 3 of the Quack List. For the authoritative latest version of the Ruleset, please visit: here.
The following is a text version of the Ruleset, which may or may not be up-to-date.
The following will be subject to entry in the Quack List.
1. A recommendation or claim at odds with overwhelming evidence and consensus:
Example 1: “Dietary sugar is the cause of diabetes.”
Example 2: “LDL cholesterol does not cause heart disease.”
Example 3: “The HPV vaccine causes cervical cancer.”
Example 4: “Insulin is the cause of common obesity.”
Example 5: “A ketogenic diet cures cancer by starving it of glucose.”
2. A claim or work not supported by currently available evidence:
Example 1: “A plant-based diet reverses heart disease.”
Example 2: “Omega-6 fatty acids cause inflammation in humans.”
Example 3: “A diet consisting entirely of beef is the proper human diet.”
Example 4: “Phytochemicals cause adverse health effects.”
Example 5: “Weight-neutral approaches cause the greatest weight loss.”
3. A recommendation or scientific claim about science or clinical practice based on anecdotal evidence:
Example 1: “I lost 50 pounds on a ketogenic diet. Therefore, there must be something wrong with science that suggests that ketogenic diets are at best only slightly better than other diets for weight loss.”
Example 2: “I treated my bipolar disorder with a ketogenic diet. Therefore, a ketogenic diet should be used to treat bipolar disorder.”
Example 3: “Margaret’s metastatic cancer regressed and disappeared on a vegan diet. Therefore, a vegan diet cures cancer.”
4. A claim that uses a citation that does not support the claim:
Example: “Garlic supplementation was shown in this paper to reduce the incidence of cold.” Paper is cited which reports no change in incidence of cold upon garlic supplementation.
5. A claim that overhypes science:
Example 1: “Sauna was shown in this prospective observational study to reduce the incidence of death by 30%. Wow!” Paper is then cited which shows such a result, but all discussion of published scientific literature containing extensive and potentially fatal criticisms of the paper is never discussed.
Example 2: “Sulforaphane prevents cancer by activating NRF2. Wow, take sulforaphane!” All discussion about research showing that NRF2 activation can enhance tumor growth is omitted.
Example 3: “Resveratrol produced dramatic health benefits in mice in my experiments.” The repeated failure by large scientific teams to replicate these findings costing millions of dollars is never discussed.
6. A claim that misrepresents facts:
Example: Ancel Keys cherrypicked his Seven Country Study to give him the result he wanted rather than being impartial to whatever the evidence would say.
7. A potentially dangerous health protocol requested or given, hypothetical or otherwise, that is supported by weak or non-existent human evidence (such as epidemiology, case studies, anecdotes, animal studies, or cell culture studies):
Example 1: “I take: Resveratrol – 1g/daily; Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN) – 1g/daily; Metformin (prescription drug) – 1g/daily”
Example 2: “If you, or someone you cared about deeply, is diagnosed with cancer, how would you use your alternative dietary therapy to treat it?”
Example 3: “I eat only meat and ignore LDL to treat my diabetes.”
8. Providing a blogging, podcast, book, or speaking platform on which any of the above take place.
Example: John makes a claim about insulin and weight gain that is demonstrably false in a video on dietdoctor.org, which is run by Bob. Both John and Bob are independently added to the Quack List, under the claim made by John.
9. Belonging to an organization whose official stance violates any of the above.
Example: Jason, Tom, Fred, and Mark are publicly listed as belonging to The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics (THINCS), a science denialist organization whose official publications claim that statins are harmful and that blood cholesterol plays no role in heart disease. Jason, Tom, Fred, and Mark are each independently added to the Quack List, under each claim made by the official publications of THINCS.
10. Claiming that one is providing the comprehensive, scientific “truth” about a given health or nutrition topic, without providing a methodology for systematically selecting and evaluating the evidence on the topic one is writing or speaking about. [It is impossible to provide the scientific truth about something if one does not systematically and impartially evaluate the evidence.]