Re: Open Letter to APHA, re: Leana Wen [EXTERNAL]


Hello, Katie,

Thanks for guiding me to this article.  It’s painful and frustrating and all too common.

I am involved in trying to write about biomedicine and its history, and like it or not, this business of cancelling someone for espousing ideas the mainstream (however defined) doesn’t like is very common.  Those who can stay the course often find their ideas finally accepted.  I can list a few for you: Semmelweis died 1865 was blackballed for showing that washing your hands when you went from autopsy suite to delivery suite saved the lives of mothers; he died in an insane asylum, so viciously did his colleagues attack him.  The same idea made more sense after the Civil War…but remained argued for another 30+ years.  Linus Pauling, who won two Nobel Prizes all by himself, began to overuse and oversell Vitamin C in the 1970s and got the rapid blackball exit as well.  Candace Pert, who wrote Molecules of Emotion, which brought emotion out of ‘mind’ and into ‘body’ (so to speak) was also treated as anathema by her NIH colleagues.  I don’t know anything about Wen myself—I read the article—and I am guessing she is caught in the same anti-everything net that Americans seem totally devoted to nowadays.  When my book comes out, I fully expect to be excoriated for saying the the U.S. needs a functional plural system to deliver quality medical care, with biomedicine relegated to tertiary care (what it does well), and others like East Asian Medicine and chiropractic taking on more primary and secondary tasks.  I hope I can stand the attacks—you can see that almost anyone is attacked today, death threats and all, and it’s all stressful and utterly unnecessary.

Which last word is what you are saying, as I understand it.

Good luck—may your distress move a couple of mountains.


Claire M Cassidy, PhD, Dipl Ac, LAc, NCCAOM
Comparing Medicines
Medical/Nutritional Anthropology
Professional Acupuncturist
Associate Editor, J of Alternative & Complementary Medicine
Ph: + 301-370-9991
Bethesda MD, USA  

On Aug 19, 2022, at 2:42 PM, Katherine Peeler via <katherine.peeler@...> wrote:

Dear All,

This is my first time writing in this forum. I am not writing to encourage anyone to sign, or not sign, the letter referenced below. Each person should make their own informed choice.

But I do want to encourage all of us to think about what it means to foster dialogue rather than cancellation. An op-ed about the letter below came out in yesterday's Boston Globe (I apologize if there is a firewall - I think maybe everyone is allowed a couple of free article a month?):


Katherine Ratzan Peeler MD, MA
Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion | ​Division of Medical Critical Care | Boston Children’s Hospital
Medical Director | Harvard Student Human Rights Collaborative Asylum Clinic
Department of Global Health and Social Medicine | Harvard Medical School
Center for Bioethics | Harvard Medical School



From: <> on behalf of Dick Powis <richard.powis@...>
Sent: Friday, August 19, 2022 2:17 PM
To: <>
Subject: [society-for-medical-anthropology] Open Letter to APHA, re: Leana Wen [EXTERNAL]
* External Email - Caution *

Dear Colleagues in the Health Sciences,


You may remember a few months ago, there was an open letter circulating about AAA’s choice for keynote speaker, Chris Murray, and the demand to rescind his invitation.

There is now a similar letter circulating calling for the American Public Health Association to rescind their invitation to Leana Wen. You can read that letter here and you may sign it through this Google Form if you wish. The authors will be submitting the letter to APHA on Monday morning.


Thank you!

Dick Powis, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow, College of Public Health, University of South Florida 
Chercheur postdoctoral, Faculté de santé publique, Université de Floride du Sud

Twitter: @dtpowis
IG: @dickpowis
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