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Narconon's supporters

Narconon is not without allies. A number of medical practitioners and others have lent Narconon their support; the members of Narconon's "International Scientific Advisory Board" are listed on the Narconon web site, at Foremost amongst their members is Dr. Forrest Tennant, the lead author of the highly critical 1974 report into Narconon written for the California State Department of Health. Since 1974, he has changed his views radically and is now one of Narconon's strongest supporters, although his views have perhaps not always been entirely helpful to the organisation. During public hearings into the Narconon Chilocco centre in Oklahoma in 1991, he was asked if Narconon's therapy worked. He replied: "Beats me. There's no scientific evidence that it does." Yet, confusingly, he is quoted on the Narconon web site as offering profuse support to Narconon's regime. If its chief authority believes that there is no scientific evidence for Narconon's therapy being effective, then why is he promoting it as a miracle cure, particularly as public money is being sought for it?

Of Tennant and three other prominent Narconon supporters, Professor Folke Sjoqvist writes:

"The four American certificates [in support of Narconon] were written by Shelley L Beckman, PhD, Megan Shields, MD, Forest Tennant, MD and Alfonso Poredes, MD. Shelley Beckman lacks medical education and the main sphere of interest of Megan Shields is chlorated pesticides. Forest Tennant, on the other hand, has extensive scientific merits in the field of addiction medicine, with 166 publications on the abuse of alcohol, cocaine, opiates, anabolic steroids, etc. and he has among other things administrated drug abuse issues in the field of sports. However, he has among all of his publications not one that concerns the evaluation of Narconon's treatment program. The main point of his certificate is: "Narconon may have its faults but it has attempted to use nutritional supplementation, exercises, saunas and simple educational courses to better the alcoholic and addict". Like Shelley Beckman he states that drugs are excreted in sweat, but this is pharmacologically self-evident and has no quantitative importance."

(Expert advice on Narconon given to the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, Prof. Folke Sjoqvist, 26 November 1996)

In December 1995, an "International Conference on Human Detoxification" was held in Los Angeles under the aegis of Narconon. It was addressed by Dr. Tennant and others and, according to Prof. Sjoqvist, much of the documentation resulting from the conference concerns aspects of environmental toxicology (such as how PCB, PBB and chlorated pesticides are affected by the Hubbard treatment). Narconon claim their treatment program can also resolve such environmental contaminants, and claims of cures for Chornobyl radiation victims have been publicised.

Nonetheless, it is significant that the medical literature occasionally referenced in Narconon-sponsored papers (see "Pro-Narconon medical literature" on the Sources page) does not appear to have been published in peer-reviewed journals. Either the medical profession in general is sceptical of Narconon's claims, or the latter simply has not bothered with the normal medical-scientific process of generating discussion of results.

Narconon's reluctance to present verifiable independent evidence or generate wider medical support is a short-sighted and eventually self-destructive policy, as it means that it cannot back up its own claims even when its own interests are at stake - as in Stuttgart, Germany, where a court case was lost precisely for this reason. Perhaps - and this would be most damning of all - it is so reluctant precisely because it feels that it would be discredited in an independent assessment of its therapy.


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Last updated 31 August 1998
by Chris Owen (