Growing up in the suburbs of Seattle, Washington, Dr. Hall refers to her childhood as “plain vanilla.” Middle class, secure, conventional, uneventful.
If her childhood was uneventful, the rest of her life was anything but.
As well as bringing up two daughters, she was to become a doctor, a USAF flight surgeon and a pilot (on a ride-along, she even briefly piloted a B-52). This, at a time when there were very few women doctors, few women in the military, few women pilots and even fewer women flight surgeons. She was one of them.
“The only way to survive was to have tough skin, wear blinders, fight my way to a teat at the milk bar, and hold on for dear life,” she recalls in her book, Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon . “I wished just once someone would judge me on my performance rather than on my testosterone level.”
Tenaciously breaking down barriers has been a common theme in her life. That tenacity has continued over the past several years as she has taken on what she believes is a barrier to human health: the pseudoscience and, often, quackery behind complementary alternative medicine (CAM).
Acupuncture, chiropractic medicine, herbal remedies, old-wave treatments such as traditional Chinese medicine and new-wave treatments such as cupping, reiki and faith-healing; if it relied on pseudoscience, you can bet it was in her crosshairs.
“Dr. Harriet Hall is a treasure. She is one of our most knowledgeable critics of so-called alternative medicine. She has a gentle and congenial but clear and firm way of writing on the subject that appeals to all fair-minded readers. For the scientific viewpoint on all manner of iffy medical claims, I recommend Harriet as your source.”Kendrick C. Frazier, Editor
Skeptical Inquirer magazine
Dr. Hall was a contributing editor to both Skeptic magazine and the Skeptical Inquirer. She was a weekly contributor to the Science-Based Medicine blog and was one of its editors. She has also contributed to Quackwatch and to a number of other respected journals and publications. She was also the author of Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon, co-author of the textbook, Consumer Health: A Guide to Intelligent Decisions, and author, along with illustrator Kevin Howell, of the children’s book There’s No Such Thing as the Tooth Fairy.