Huffington Post: Presenting Fake 'Doctors' as Experts?

There is a charge starting to make the rounds of the science and medical blogs that the Huffington Post is allowing its bloggers to claim they are “doctors” when some really aren’t qualified to claim the title. Still others ply their legitimately earned title to discuss as authorities issues in fields other than those in which they trained. Some of these same “doctors” are offering health advice and assessment of scientific news when they really aren’t qualified to discuss them in any way other than as opinionists. So, the questions become these: is the Huffington Post misrepresenting its posters as trained, accredited experts when they aren’t? Is there any attempt by the HuffyPost staff to substantiate the claims made by its posters?

Case in point is the Huffington Post’s wellness editor, “Dr.” Patricia Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald claims to have a doctorate in “Homeopathic Medicine,” as well as a Master’s Degree in “Traditional Chinese Medicine.” But what, exactly, is a Doctorate in Homeopathic Medicine? And why does Fitzgerald not say on her bio page from where these degrees were earned? Why is she so intentionally vague?

One need only look to see that she is selling a book and a “wellness” business, to answer that. It is in her interest to be vague when claiming degrees in fields that are considered quasi-scientific or outright frauds.

Peter Lipson, an internist who specializes in the prevention and treatment of illness, has been criticizing the penchant that Huffy Posters seem to have to call themselves doctors for some time. Recently he addressed the HuffyPost “wellness editor” and found her qualifications wanting.

The other day, I wrote about the fake health experts at the Huffington Post. Prominent among them is “Dr” Patricia Fitzgerald. Now, we already talked about how writing a health piece in a major media outlet and using the title of “Dr” can be deceptive; the reader is likely to assume you are a medical doctor. In Fitzgerald’s case, she isn’t anything resembling a medical doctor, or even a health expert.

Lipson also recently told Simon Owens:

“Part of it is a misrepresentation of qualifications. They started putting the word ‘Dr’ in front of everyone’s name — more or less for anyone who has a doctorate in something or other — and Patricia Fitzgerald claims to have a doctorate in homeopathy, whatever that is. Homeopathy is a completely discredited fantasy. When you give that kind of credibility — I mean first you invite them to a well-known mainstream outlet, you let them call themselves a doctor when they’re not really qualified, and then you let them interview other people and present them as professionals — it just layers on and layers on.”

Owens has a more in depth discussion of the several articles that Lipson and other science/medicine bloggers have been criticizing, but it is a good question we have here.

Shouldn’t the Huffington Post staff be a bit more careful in what they allow their posters to title themselves? Also, shouldn’t the HuffyPost staff go to a little more pains to alert readers that blogs on science and medicine are merely presenting the opinions of the writer and not qualified, legitimate scientific and medical advice? Aren’t they misrepresenting themselves as experts as opposed to opinionists?

What sort of oversight is going on at HuffyPost, anyway?