Your Life is Their Toy - Emanuel Josephson

The New York Academy of Medicine


About the time that the sponsors of the New York Tuberculosis and Health Association began organizing the Social Service Trust, they also took hold of the New York Academy of Medicine. They made it the spearhead of their drive to "muscle in" on the very profitable rackets of Organized Medicine and to gain control over the profession.

The Academy had existed for many decades as a sleepy, musty club for the more affluent physicians and medical merchants of New York. In essence it was a rich man's club, operated by the financial highlights and political bosses of medicine. For its members it maintained a library to which nonmembers might gain admittance. Meetings were held which gave members an opportunity to advertise and display themselves to the profession.


Preliminary to conversion of the Academy to their uses, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation, allies of Organized Social Service, offered it a grant for a new building on condition that it would raise part of the funds by public subscription. For the purpose of an appeal to the public for donations, bequests and contributions, the Academy posed as a charitable and educational institution devoted to the protection of the health and life of the public. The ruse succeeded and the public contributed liberally to the erection of an imposing edifice.

Dr. Linsly R. Williams, son-in-law of Kidder of the Morgan affiliated Kidder, Peabody & Co., was made Director of the Academy. Dr. Williams frankly acknowledged his incompetence as a physician, his inability to make a success of the practice of medicine and his hatred of the medical practitioners engendered by his sense of inferiority. As a compensatory device, he devoted his life to a campaign against private medical practice, as the medical boss of Organized Social Service, undertook to dictate how the practice of medicine should be conducted, and became "King's advocate" of Socialized Medicine and of commercial and political domination of the medical profession.

As soon as its marble halls were completed, the New York Academy of Medicine abruptly ceased to be a "charitable" institution. Once again it became a less exclusive but more expensive club. Physicians and others who are acceptable to the membership, usually by virtue of personal friendship or frequent consultation, may belong, so long as they pay the fifty dollars annual dues and obey the rules.


At the heart of the alliance of the bosses of social service and medical bosses is the Academy's Medical Information Bureau. It was established by the New York Tuberculosis and Health Association on the pretense of supplying the press with "reliable medical information" through its executive secretary, Dr. Iago Galdston erstwhile Isidore Goldstein, whose salary is said to have been paid originally by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. The Association's president, Dr. Linsly Williams, the medical boss of Organized Social Service and interlocking Director of the Academy, saddled it on the Academy and on the New York County and State Medical Societies. It engages now, in a censorship of medical news that extends throughout the country.

Attractive bait was offered the medical bosses by the social service clique in this deal. It offered to continue to pay the salary of Dr. Iago Galdston when the Academy took over the Bureau, out of the Christmas Seal pennies. Subsequently one of the allies of Organized Social Service, the Milbank Fund, liberally endowed the Bureau, i.e. the wages of its officers, with some of its Borden Company milk funds, which was no doubt earned well by the censorship activities. The press censorship of the Medical Information Bureau has given the Social Service Racket a monopoly of publicity on important medical aspects of milk and on medical economics, which has virtually barred the press to Organized Medicine and to the members of the medical profession on these topics. This has been an important factor in facilitating its Bismarxian propaganda, especially in the field of Socialized Medicine and Compulsory Health Insurance. The releases of the Medical Information Bureau have played a significant role in undermining public confidence in the medical profession and vilifying it.

At the same time the Bureau has undertaken to act as a high-powered agency for publicity and advertising of the medical bosses of the Academy and their henchmen, the value of which is intensified by the censorship which makes their press releases exclusive. In this manner the medical clique have monopolized the right to advertise and boost their reputations and practices.


The "Fortnightly Review" that is held each year by the Academy plays an important part in the business-boosting. Though it is professed that these Reviews are intended for the education of the medical profession they are advertised and publicized to the lay public and the names of the bosses of the Academy featured and headlined. They virtually state: "Behold, we are learned men, the 'authorities', who are educating the profession. For superior medical services come to us."

Until the Review of 1939, when a five dollar registration fee was imposed, the bulk of the attendance of these meetings consisted of laymen attracted by the advertising. They came to hear the oracles of medicine hold forth in a fashion that would lure to their offices lay listeners as patients.

Few informed members of the medical profession attend the sessions, because they well know that very seldom will anything new be heard. Always the same "authorities" recite from the same textbooks. This annual advertising stunt is supplemented by weekly radio broadcasts by various members of the clique. Occasionally an authentic medical scientist and authority presents a subject that is new before the "Fortnightly Review." But thanks to the censorship of the press maintained in the name of the Academy, it is only the drivel of its overlords that has been released by the Bureau and publicized in the press.


But these forms of advertisement do not exhaust the repertoire of the publicity and business agency of the Academy. The Medical Information Bureau invites the public through the press to seek its advice about physicians and to accept its recommendations. The Bureau steers the inquiring public into the offices of the bosses of the Academy. This custom is very profitable and brings them much high-priced business. Occasionally a case is thrown "to the dogs," i.e. the rank and file members of the Academy.

In this activity the Bureau is guided by ethical standards lower than those of East Side merchants and their "steerers." Cases are not referred to the members unless they pay their dues and remain in "good standing." Since the payment of dues is the prime requisite of membership and enjoyment of the organization's benefits, all members of the New York Academy of Medicine who have cases steered into their offices by it are guilty of "fee-splitting."


The bosses of the New York Academy of Medicine, and their social service allies, use the Bureau to ruin the practices and reputations of their competitors and enemies. The rank and file of the medical profession are consistently discredited to the press and to the inquiring public by inuendo or slander over the telephone. It is not unusual for the Bureau to do this even to members of the Academy. On one occasion that has come to my attention the spokesman of the Academy informed the press that one of its own members was a quack and was not to be trusted.

This slander is hard to scotch or prosecute because it is usually done over the telephone. It would be difficult to prosecute successfully because there are no reliable witnesses possible in a phone conversation. The Bureau and its officers generally refuse to reduce their statements condemning a physician to writing, no doubt on advice of counsel. Drs. Iago Galdston and Samuel J. Kopetzky have been the guiding spirits of the Bureau.


In matters of medical publication, news reports are censored on the same basis. The most trite nonsense of the officers of the Academy passes censorship and is headlined in the press. The most important discoveries of outsiders or of enemies of the Academy are discredited without regard to truth, and are censored by the Bureau.

Such newspapers as the New York Times abide rigidly by the censorship of the Academy. All the editors of New York city newspapers and magazines are fearful of the pressure which the Academy clique can bring to bear against them. The MacFadden publications alone are free of its full censorship and dare publish medical truths that Organized Medicine desires to suppress. The pressure of the Federal Trade Commission supports the medical censorship and forces rebellious media into line.

Since Galdston has been employed at a salary of five thousand dollars a year as syndicated medical columnist and censor by the Associated Press, the other news syndicates and many newspapers have rightfully become distrustful of the Bureau's neutrality. But fear of reprisals by the Academy and its allies has kept most lay editors in line.


The chief result of the press censorship of medical news by the Galdston-Kopetzky Bureau and its social service bosses has been to discredit the medical profession in the eyes of the public through the agency of what the public regards as the profession's own organizations. Periodically the social service forces issue for publication false and misleading data highly injurious to the rank and file physicians and to the good name of the profession. This persistent libel is no doubt a puzzle to the public who do not realize the perfidious control of the Medical Information Bureau by Organized Social Service.

This libel of the profession continues with impunity because the members at large of the Academy of Medicine have absolutely no voice in its administration. They are merely puppets who pay fifty dollars a year for being undermined, discredited, and libeled like the rest of the profession. They also enjoy the privilege of attending meetings at which they must not be too free in speaking up or expressing themselves; the boon of borrowing books from the library; the dubious pleasure of basking in the reflected glory of the often spurious renown of the bosses of the Academy; and an occasional boost to their businesses by cases referred to them by the Medical Information Bureau.


In one respect the "aristocratic" Academy has become quite plebeian. It has entered the real estate business in competition with less fortunate landlords of New York City and has taken in boarders. It "philanthropically" rents meeting rooms, built with funds donated by the public, to medical societies of its own selection and approval, at the rate of twenty five dollars to one hundred and fifty dollars per evening.

This did not stop the New York Academy of Medicine from claiming and receiving exemption from taxes on the amusing grounds of being a "charitable" institution. Exemption from real estate taxes was granted by the Board of Assessors of New York City after there had been blocked, at my instance, a bill introduced in the New York State Legislature to exempt the Academy from payment of taxes.


As an example of the charity and philanthropy which the New York Academy of Medicine bestows on the public, the Infantile Paralysis Serum Racket is outstanding. In connection with the epidemic of infantile paralysis which occurred in New York City in 1931, the New York Academy of Medicine announced to the public a quack "cure" for the disease consisting of human blood serum. It obtained the serum at little or no cost and sold it to the public at twenty-five dollars or more a dose. In this activity it had the support of Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was a close friend of Dr. Linsly R. Williams, the Director and Chairman of the Poliomyelitis Committee of the Academy. Georgia Warm Springs, also, was the source of some of the serum which was sold by the Academy, according to published reports.

At this point it suffices to mention that more deaths resulted from the use of the serum than from the disease itself, and rather than take the matter to court, the parties involved settled a suit for the death of Marvin Zanger, a victim of the serum, out of court, even though there was considerable question whether the technicalities of the law did not exempt them from liability in the matter.


Most questionable of the pretenses of the New York Academy of Medicine, made to secure tax exemption from the City of New York, is that it is an educational institution and makes available to the profession medical literature by operating a public library. A small fraction of the Academy's marble halls is used for library purposes. But this is a private library for members of the Academy which is open to the public and to the balance of the medical profession for reference purposes only, during a limited number of hours per day. The hours were originally from nine to twelve a.m. For the purpose of making its plea more plausible to the Board of Assessors of the City of New York the hours were extended to five p.m. The rank and file of the medical profession may only consult the library of the Academy during hours that conflict with their office and working hours; and they may not borrow books as may the members.

Access to publications of medical advances is as important for the education of physicians as is free and uncensored publication. With the price of medical publications high, and mounting ever higher in spite of the depression, the cost of keeping abreast of medical advance today is beyond the means of a large part of the profession. Libraries that give the medical profession free access to medical literature are essential to the public for the protection of health and life.

The Academy does extend the privilege of borrowing books from its library to non-member physicians—for the modest sum of forty dollars a year. This is far beyond the means of the average physician. To all intents and purposes, the medical and social service bosses of the Academy bar the rank and file of the medical profession from effective access to medical literature.

The Academy is aided in converting its library into a lucrative monopoly by the public library system of New York City and by the Carnegie Corporation, and by the Rockefeller Foundation and its General Education Board, by the support which they give it. I discovered this, much to my chagrin, in 1931 when I pleaded with the New York Public Library and with the Carnegie Corporation to make available to the medical profession a free circulating library. Mr. Anderson of the New York Public Library replied that his organization would not enter into competition with the library business of the New York Academy of Medicine, Mr. Frederick Keppel of the Carnegie Corporation replied that he would take up the matter with his associates. Nothing came of my efforts.

A curious light is thrown on Organized Medicine's attitude toward its rank and fiie and toward public interests, by my attempt to induce the New York County Medical Society to take action to obtain a free circulating medical library for the profession of the City. The resolution was barred from introduction as new business by the chairman at a meeting of the Society; and the omnipotent Comitia Minora of the Society, all of whom were members of the Academy of Medicine, refused to take any action in the matter.

The need for such a library is still urgent, and would require but a small fraction of the large sums of money being wasted and frittered away on useless and stupid pretenses of public health work. Money should be promptly provided for this purpose.


On the eighth of January 1940 Dr. Malcolm Goodridge, President of the New York Academy of Medicine, made a plea to the public for contributions to its support as a charitable and benevolent public institution. He drew a heart-rending picture of the Academy trying to scrape along on a mere $220,000 a year income. He did not make it clear how much of this money represented the salaries of social service parasites, propagandists and business steerers who clutter the Academy.

Dr. Goodridge announced a plan to cut down the limited access of the rank and file of the medical profession and of the public to the medical library. He confessed that there might be raised the question "that the Academy is not properly an educational institution." He revealed that on the basis of such misrepresentations the Academy had been exempted from income, social security, state unemployment insurance and real estate taxes. This is in line with the custom of Organized Social Service to specifically exempt itself from all the burdensome taxes and regulations which it helps impose on the nation.

The doctor also revealed that the Federal government had suspected the misrepresentations of the Academy and had raised the question of its tax-exemption but had continued the exemption because of the "educational" character of its business-steering agency, the Medical Information Bureau. With equal justice the government could exempt from taxes all advertising agencies or the New York Stock Exchange or the Union League Club,

How the "educational" Medical Information Bureau acts to suppress the truth and to protect the business interests of the Academy is illustrated by the fact that letters relating the truth about the activities of the Academy correcting the statements of Dr. Goodridge, which were forwarded to the New York Times, Herald Tribune, World-Telegram, Post, Journal and American, Daily Nezus and Mirror, were censored and suppressed. Such suppression of the truth is an odd concept of "education." The Federal government could render the public a great service by taxing the malodorous and anti-social activities of the Academy out of existence.