Respectful Insolence

You knew it was just a matter of time. At least I did. Let me back up a minute and tell you what I mean.

Over the last week, I’ve done three posts about a chemotherapy refusenik (as some oncologists I’ve worked with tend to refer to them as) named Daniel Hauser. Hauser is a 13-year-old boy with Hodgkin’s lymphoma who, after having undergone one course of chemotherapy for his disease, decided that he didn’t want anymore. He and his mother justified his refusal using the teachings of a faux Native American cultish religious group but in reality are probably only using religion as a convenient excuse to do justify what they wanted to do anyway because of fear of chemotherapy and the memory of an aunt who died while undergoing chemotherapy. On Friday, Judge John Rodenberg came to a decision and issued what to me is a wise and restrained ruling, in which he ruled that medical neglect is indeed taking place and placed the onus squarely on Daniel’s parents’ shoulders to rectify the situation by making sure that Daniel underwent appropriate science-based therapy for his cancer. I realize that the story is unlikely to be over and that I am likely to be drawn back to commenting on it again, as the first part of the judge’s instructions was only that the Hausers take Daniel back for staging studies in order to reassess the extent of Daniel’s cancer.

But before I move on from the tragic case of Daniel Hauser for a while, I can’t help but notice that and “old friend” of the blog, someone who’s ability to bring home the crazy in his characteristically histrionic, paranoid, and misinformation-filled rants is utterly unparalleled almost anywhere outside of Whale.to. Of course, I’m referring to Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com. Mike is not happy about Judge Rodenberg’s ruling. Oh, no. Not at all. He sees it as–well, why don’t I quote his article Court Orders Parents to Poison Their 13-Year-Old Child with Chemotherapy and link to his disturbing YouTube video (Part 1 and Part 2):

The crazy, it is strong in this one, particularly in part II of his video, where he likens the use of chemotherapy to Nazi Germany’s throwing Jews into gas chambers. (Calling the Hitler Zombie!) For example, let’s look at how Adams starts his article:

Against the wishes of both the parents and the 13-year-old patient in question, a Minnesota judge has ruled that Daniel Hauser must undergo conventional chemotherapy treatments, which are characterized by the mass-poisoning of the patient with toxic chemicals.

Of course, chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s disease can be harsh, as I discussed before. It’s not because doctors want to “poison children,” contrary to Mike Adams’ paranoid ramblings. It’s simply because we haven’t found anything better yet. Moreover, Hodgkin’s disease in childhood of the type and stage that Daniel has is around 90% curable with chemotherapy and radiation but close to 0% curable with anything else. Not in Adams’ world. In fact, to get the full flavor of his rant, you really do need to read the whole text, but here’s just a taste. First, the introduction to his video:

I’d like you to put out a prayer tonight for Daniel Hauser. He is a 13-year-old boy who has been sentenced by the State of Minnesota to a chemical injection. You might ask, well, what’s the crime of this 13-year-old? His crime is that he underwent a round of chemotherapy because he has cancer. After experiencing the toxic effects of this chemotherapy, he decided he did not want any more. He expressed this desire to his parents, and his parents agreed with him…

Never leave it to Mike to be the least but subtle, either on video or in print. I will say that Mike comes across to me as being rather creepy. I had expected him to be wide-eyed and wild; his thousand-mile stare and rather flat delivery, to me, are far creepier than I expected. So maybe I’ll go back to his written rant:

Daniel was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a health condition that is widely known by alternative cancer practitioners to be reversible (curable), especially in younger patients. Conventional medical doctors have told the courts that unless Daniel is subjected to toxic chemotherapy treatments, he has a 95% chance of dying.

That statistics is an outright lie. It is one of the many deceptive statistics put forth by the cancer industry in order to scare patients into submitting to extremely toxic protocols that cause far more harm than good.

There is not a single cancer patient that has ever been cured by chemotherapy. Zero. They don’t exist. Not a single documented case in the history of western medicine.

What is this guy smoking?

I’m guessing that Adams, were he to be a commenter here, would be one of those who liberally spice their comments with all caps. He also seems to think that arguing by assertion is all he needs to do. Is this guy serious? No one has ever been cured by chemotherapy? The literature is replete with carefully documented survival statistics for patients with cancer who have been cured by chemotherapy. Thousands, if not millions, of trees have probably been killed to provide the paper publishing case reports, clinical trial results, and other statistics for the efficacy of chemotherapy against a wide variety of cancers over the last several decades. Indeed, we know which cancers chemotherapy works well for (for instance, Hodgkin’s disease) and which ones it doesn’t work well for (for instance melanoma and pancreatic cancer, both of which are primarily treated surgically).

Let’s see what other claims Adams can throw in:

And why is that? Because conventional medicine operates from the false belief that there is no cure for cancer! Thus, anyone offering a cure (or assisting in the body’s own natural reversal of the disease) is immediately dismissed as a quack. Meanwhile, the real quackery is found in the pushing of toxic chemotherapy chemicals that are injected into the bodies of patients and called “treatment” when they should really be called “torture.” (Nancy Pelosi, by the way, was never briefed on the fact that chemotherapy is torture…)

Nice touch with the Nancy Pelosi remark, Mike. Nice touch of crazy to spice up the article. You know, just when I think that Adams can’t surpass himself in sheer, paranoid lunacy, he does! Talk about your massive straw man! Conventional medicine most definitely does not operate from the belief that there is no cure for cancer. In fact, it most definitely does the opposite, although with more nuance than what Adams’ fevered little brain is capable of in that, unlike Adams and his woo brigade, scientific medicine recognizes that cancer is not a single disease. Indeed, it’s a mistake to refer to “cancer” as a single disease.

The other point that has to be made is not that someone claiming to have a cure for cancer is dismissed as a quack. Rather, it is people like those whom Mike Adams promotes, who claim to be able to cure cancer but provide no scientific evidence that they can do so or whose methods are so scientifically implausible as to be dismissed without exceedingly compelling evidence sufficient to overturn the numerous scientific paradigms with which they directly conflict.

But why? Why would Judge Rodenberg rule this way? It couldn’t possibly be because he was doing what he thought to be in the best interests of Daniel Hauser, could it? Of course not! To Adams, it’s all part of the plot:

What’s most disturbing in all of this, of course, is that the state is now forcing parents to poison their own children, requiring they hand over money to Big Pharma and conventional cancer treatment centers. The concept of freedom of choice has been stolen away from parents. The idea of protecting your children from toxic chemicals has been not just nullified, but made illegal!

Uh, no, Mike. What’s illegal is medical neglect. What’s illegal is sentencing a child to death by not providing him with effective science-based therapy that has been shown to result in a roughly 90% chance of curing the cancer, opting instead for religious quackery that is virtually certain to be result in his dying a very ugly death due to lymphoma. Adults still have freedom of choice. They can choose whatever quackery they wish for whatever reason they wish. However, they do not have the “right” to impose such a choice on a child if that choice is likely to lead directly to the death of that child.

But why–why– would physicians dismiss Adams and his woo brigade? Naturally, Adams has an idea why. After making a number of highly exaggerated (at best) claims for “natural” cures that can “help the body reverse various cancers,” he launches into the real reason he hates scientific medicine:

Of all the hundreds of different systems of medicine in our world, with tens of thousands of identified medicinal plant species growing on our planet, with the knowledge and wisdom of over 5,000 years of natural medicine being used across nearly every continent, modern doctors insist there is but one approach to cancer that has any value whatsoever: Chemotherapy. And they believe it so strongly, that they will argue for the arrest and imprisonment of parents who disagree with them.

This is the point at which medicine crosses over the line of anything scientific and becomes a dangerous form of dogma known as “scientism.”

Modern medicine is not a scientific debate, folks. It’s a system of control. Doctors, judges and courtrooms are simply tools of oppression to manipulate, poison and exploit a diseased population, all while isolating them from the natural cures that really work.

That’s right. You knew it was coming. It always does, whether it’s from evolution-denying creationists or other pseudoscientists frustrated that science doesn’t find what they want it to find: the charge that science is nothing more than a “dogma” or, if you’re a creationist or into other forms of religious woo (like Daniel Hauser’s mother, for example) nothing more than “another religion.” It’s not. The very difference between science and the woo Kool Aid (or should I say the Woo-Aid?) that Mike Adams has drunk deeply of is that science does change. Science does adapt. If the evidence demands it, scientific medicine will even radically alter its understanding of a disease process like cancer. In marked contrast, Adams spews the same nonsense, day in, day out.

Nonsense like this:

And the people causing this to happen are, in every conceivable way, guilty of mass murder. To deny the population access to accurate information about natural cancer remedies that really work — and to threaten to imprison those who attempt to protect their children from the harm caused by poisonous chemicals — is essentially an act of murder. It’s not quite the same as putting a gun to someone’s head and pulling the trigger, but it’s close: Dead is dead, whether they were killed by a bullet or an injection.

And Daniel Hauser would be just as dead if he dies because quacks like those Mike Adams actively supports persuade his parents that they can offer a “100%” chance of a cure and persuade them to reject medicine that works.

If you think Adams has ramped the crazy up as far as he can, you’re wrong:

By any honest mathematical analysis, cancer doctors are orders of magnitude more dangerous to our world than all the terrorists, ocean pirates and serial killers combined. And now, with the help of ignorant court judges, they have outlawed NOT using their own brand of poison.

It’s sick beyond imagination. It’s a crime against humanity, and I can only pray that one day the people responsible for the deaths of all these children being poisoned by chemotherapy will face their own court trials for mass murder.

If you really want to see just what lurks just underneath much of the advocacy of “alternative cancer cures,” read NaturalNews.com. I find it very useful. Most purveyors of these “cures” or of “natural medicine” who reject science tend to be a lot more circumspect. They want you to think they are reasonable, that their woo has a basis in science. They are suspicious of science and big pharma, but they know enough not to let their freak flags fly.

Which is why, in a perverse way, I’m grateful for Mike Adams. He’s not afraid to let his freak flag fly. My only question is: Does anyone take him seriously? I like to hope not, but that hope is contradicted by the fact that NaturalNews.com is one of the highest-trafficked alt-med sites out there. In the meantime, he provides me with endless blogging material with his ghoulishness and shameless inability to resist making a fool of himself whenever a case like that of Daniel Hauser comes up and his hilariously over-the-top cartoons like this.

Orac’s commentary

  1. Another child sacrificing himself on the altar of irrational belief
  2. Daniel Hauser and his rejection of chemotherapy: Is religion the driving force or just a convenient excuse?
  3. Judge John Rodenberg gives chemotherapy refusenik Daniel Hauser a chance to live
  4. Mike Adams brings home the crazy over the Daniel Hauser case
  5. The case of chemotherapy refusenik Daniel Hauser: I was afraid of this
  6. Chemotherapy versus death from cancer
  7. Chemotherapy refusenik Daniel Hauser: On the way to Mexico with his mother?
  8. An astoundingly inaccurate headline about the Daniel Hauser case
  9. Good news for Daniel Hauser!
  10. Daniel Hauser, fundraising, and “health freedom”

Comments

  1. #1 Cubik's Rube
    May 18, 2009

    Mike Adams’s world must be a scary place to live, where people routinely do these appalling and barbaric things to children… and yet he seems deeply committed to rooting himself in that world, despite how comforting and reassuring it would be to let in even a small sliver of reality, and understand that there aren’t nearly as many genocidal maniacs out there as he imagines. Let’s hope the treatment works, even if it doesn’t throw the crackpots off their stride.

  2. #2 Sabio Lantz
    May 18, 2009

    Please tell me I am not the only skeptic/atheist out there who does not want the government to decide for children what medical treatments they use; what foods they eat; what entertainment they watch; or what clothing they wear. Ok, so clothing and entertainment may not have death issues tied to it, but certainly food and drink do. And slippery slope arguments could enlarge the scope.

    Whether we chose parents or the government as arbitrator for children, there will be huge drawbacks on both sides. I choose for the drawback on the parent’s side. I understand the outrage here, but I am uncomfortable with intervening nontheless.

  3. #3 Orac
    May 18, 2009

    As a skeptic, you do realize that the slippery slope argument is almost always a logical fallacy, don’t you?

    http://www.fallacyfiles.org/slipslop.html
    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/slippery-slope.html
    http://www.csun.edu/~dgw61315/fallacies.html#Slippery%20slope

    To be convincing as to why the state’s stepping in to save a child’s life in this case is going to lead to all these horrible things, you need to be a lot more specific and data-driven about constructing your chain of causality.

  4. #4 Cath the Canberra Cook
    May 18, 2009

    Eh, I’m down with the government telling us about what foods kids can eat. I’m totally happy with teh evill big government regulations banning melamine and TB bacteria in milk, and banning highly flammable baby clothes. BWahahahah I am so evil!!! I won’t even stop at food and clothes – I want to control the toys your children can play with, too! No lead paint, for a start. And no little bitty choking hazard pieces in toys for infants. My evil knows no bounds! Fear me!

  5. #5 dean
    May 18, 2009

    “I choose for the drawback on the parent’s side”

    Yes, because in the imaginary world that inhabits the “mind” of a libertarian, children are simply commodities: hell, who cares if the parents’ actions kill one, they can always make more.

    What an amazing asshole you are.

  6. #6 John C. Welch
    May 18, 2009

    Dean, you know the lolbertard line. It doesn’t *matter* what the outcome of the choice is. As long as government had anything to do with it, it is bad, and if government had nothing to do with it, it’s good.

  7. #7 Bijan Parsia
    May 18, 2009

    Aside from problems with slippery slope arguments, Sabio, I presume that you don’t think that there’s *never* a situation where state intervention in parenting is inappropriate. For example, suppose a parent beats their child regularly (though in a strictly programatic and controlled way). Or, suppose a parent puts their child on an ultra-low calorie diet (say 800 calories/day for a 15 year old male) in the believe that ultra-low calorie diets significantly extend the lifespan.

    It seems like both these cases are obviously cases where state intervention is not only permitted, but required. Similarly, denying a child life saving medical treatment is a pretty obvious and severe form of neglect. It’s obvious that all three of these cases are radically different than clothing and entertainment, and even a good chunk of food and drink.

    There are no bright lines, of course, but there’s a pretty clear spectrum of food and drink decisions that are absolutely off the table for parents (no poisons, no starvation, no force feeding (except under a doctor’s care in a medical context)) and a bunch of decisions that are absolutely off the table for govt (coke vs. pepsi; vegetarianism or not; kosher or not). Then there is a somewhat mushy middle that has to be decided on a case by case basis or by bands of weaker certainty, or by (eventually) adjusting the edges.

    So, in the absence of a specific problem with this decision (for which you have pretty specific ideas of what went wrong and how it should be changed), I think your generalized discomfort isn’t well-founded.

  8. #8 Erin
    May 18, 2009

    Boy, you always know someone’s full of shit when they try to tell you it’s all a sinister conspiracy to push “high profit, but also highly fatal” treatment programs. Clearly they don’t think this through very well.

    1) Convince cancer patients paying for chemo is the only way to stay alive
    2) Kill patients with said chemo
    3) ???
    4) Profit!!!

    Unless they’ve got a joint conspiracy with the funeral home industry (and boy, if you want a racketeering organization to bitch about, I wouldn’t blame you for that one), I just don’t see how you profit from knowingly allowing your revenue stream to dry up and die. I guess “recruitment” is the key, like with the tobacco industry. Oh my god. Doctors are giving people cancer to sell them chemo! Oh, wait, cancer doesn’t work that way…

    Also, the second sign someone is full of it: disabled or approval-pending comments sections. With one, positive comment in it. On a vid with 4,000+ views.

    Honestly, how people can look at the generally open, peer-reviewed, criticism-welcoming nature of science, and shun it to go trust the paranoid, censorship-and-lawsuit-happy land of cults, natural healing, and fundamentalism is beyond me. Nutters.

  9. #9 Paul Browne
    May 18, 2009

    Sabio, your point might have has some validity if Daniel Hauser was suffering from a form of cancer for which the chance of successful treatment with chemotherapy was very low and the side effects very bad. I believe that Orac has written on just such a case where the judge found in favour of a child patient and her parents recently.

    However, in this case there is strong evidence that the treatment will be successful and that without it he will soon die. Daniel Hauser has indicated that he wishes to live, so I don’t think that there should be any problem with the state intervening to support his right to life, even if it means removing his right to refuse treatment, still less if it means removing his parents right to refuse treatment on his behalf.

  10. #10 RevRon
    May 18, 2009

    When I was younger, my parents told me about an uncle who was bitten by a rabid dog. Part way through his treatment, he apparently struggled mightily to avoid the injections, to the point of screaming at each subsequent treatment. I can certainly relate to his parent’s horror at seeing their child suffer, and would no doubt have done anything in my power to protect my own children from experiencing such agony.

    That said, I also recognize that without the treatments, my uncle would have suffered a death whose agony greatly overshadowed that caused by the treatments themselves. With that realization in mind, and facing the same kind of situation, I would certainly have forced my children to endure the treatment that had been *proven* most effective at saving their lives. As parents, we must ultimately recognize that we are frequently faced with choosing the lesser of several evils if we are to live up to our responsibilities to our children, even if it means causing our children to suffer in order to prevent even greater suffering (or death).

    It is easy to characterize Daniel’s parents as being evil or – at best – deluded. Perhaps it would serve us better to recognize that they truly have their child’s best interests at heart, but lack the strength to face his suffering, even to the point where they are in denial about the greater suffering he will endure if treatment is withheld. As we all know, emotions – especially the kind of strong emotions that are elicited when we see our child in pain – can frequently trump logic or even basic common sense. I suspect that this may have been the case with Daniel’s parents.

    Unfortunately, they found willing enablers in the likes of Mike Adams, the alt.med conspiracy theorists, and the woo crowd in general. They found a straw that was so obscure that no pragmatic person would accept, and they grasped it. I don’t hold his parents in contempt nearly so much as I do the body of enablers, who spoke to the anguished parents in a language that resonated far more clearly than did the findings of the medical community. The parents’ desperate desire to ease their child’s suffering made the “natural” treatment regimen much more appealing to them. After all, if someone who sounds credible promises to cure a deathly sick child without making the child suffer in the process, what parent would summarily turn aside from those promises? In Daniel’s parents’ case, hope trumped reason.

    I think that the judge made the best possible decision, but that decision is only “final” in Daniel’s case. I suspect that when (if?) Daniel’s disease is finally conquered, his parents will acknowledge that other parties made a decision for them which they lacked the strength to make. The real challenge is to prevent the same kind of struggle in the future. And the onus is upon the “conventional” medical community to clearly communicate the need to use logic, even when it is most difficult to do so.

    Outright dismissals of the claims made by people like Adams might seem obvious to professionals who are aware of and understand the disease / treatment process, but such dismissals do not take into account the emotional investment of the child or the parents. And those emotional investments are the obstacles that must be overcome if reason is to prevail. I make no claim to having the “answer” to this dilemma. It might require providing patients with information in a language they can easily comprehend (Don’t hand a distraught parent a research study and expect it to make a dent!). It might involve clearly-defined legislation that relieves parents of their responsibilities when a similar situation occurs, though I do believe that this is indeed embarking upon a slippery slope, and needs to be approached with the utmost caution. Obviously, there are no simple answers that will address the concerns of all parties, but just as we have seen in our system of governance, merely planting one’s feet (on either side of a given argument) and demanding absolute acquiescence by proponents of the other side will ensure that reason is supplanted by rhetoric, and progress is all but eliminated.

  11. #11 dean
    May 18, 2009

    Articles about the case of this young man indicate that he is unable to read, although I haven’t seen a clear indication of the reason. Some of the answers he gave (again, according to the articles) indicate he does not fully understand his position, or the possibilities for and against his recovery.

    This is a very sad situation: his parents are trying to claim their “religion” means they don’t need to have medical treatment. I wouldn’t care at all (okay, I would shake my head and say “How sad” if it were one of the parents saying “I don’t want this for me”) if it were an adult in this position, but I believe their right to be ignorant ends when it becomes life-threatening to someone else, certainly to a 13-year-old child.

  12. #12 dean
    May 18, 2009

    RevRon, even I would have trouble with “It might involve clearly-defined legislation that relieves parents of their responsibilities when a similar situation occurs” – I don’t see how clearly-defined legislation could be written that
    - wouldn’t be too broad
    - could anticipate all situations
    - would be something to which anyone would want his/her name attached

    I do realize bringing the government into family matters is always a painful thing – but in cases like this, where the life of a minor is at stake, due to the parents’ mistreatment: I don’t see any reasonable alternative.

  13. #13 RevRon
    May 18, 2009

    Dean, I agree wholeheartedly. I think the only point where I might differ is in the seemingly judgmental (though understandable) nature of labeling the parents’ actions as constituting mistreatment. While they are admittedly not serving their child well, I think we might realize greater success in our efforts to encourage better decisions if we would adopt a more compassionate attitude toward those whose logic and common sense have been overwhelmed by emotion, even by acknowledging that these parents might be doing the best they can in the situation. “Walking a mile in their shoes” must include recognition of the possibility that they might not be emotionally capable of making the same choices that are, to others, obvious.

    As a field medic, I learned all too well the truth that real compassion sometimes looks a lot like cruelty, and that someone who is suffering may well be unqualified to make prudent choices. Their inability to make such choices doesn’t make them evil, weak, or even ignorant. It merely makes them incapable. The task of the medical community, as I see it, is to strive to overcome the incapacity of the afflicted (and their support systems). That involves not only providing treatment to alleviate physical anomalies, but helping them realize the best course of action in a given situation, and enlisting the patient and their families as partners in addressing the circumstances they face. Condemnation of their actions and motives must be supplanted with – or at least tempered by – compassion if the treatment is to be successful. Simply assessing judgment of malevolence or inferiority on the part of others faced with difficult situations is counterproductive, IMO.

  14. #14 dean
    May 18, 2009

    RevRon, “I think we might realize greater success in our efforts to encourage better decisions if we would adopt a more compassionate attitude toward those whose logic and common sense have been overwhelmed by emotion, even by acknowledging that these parents might be doing the best they can in the situation”

    Good point – I may have been short in this regard. I took my reading of the other articles that the parents’ actions were done as an attempt to avoid the medical treatment.

    How do you tell when the problem is the one you mention, versus when the parents are really just not decent people?

    Lest I get too far off topic, I’ll simply state that all I want to see is for this young man to pull through this – I think that’s the wish of everyone here, regardless of politial/social leanings.

  15. #15 The Perky Skeptic
    May 18, 2009

    My brother had Hodgkins as a child. I believe we were ages seven and nine at the time. He went to St. Jude’s to participate in the hugely major trial which ultimately led to the determination of the standard of care for Hodgkins lymphoma. They are *still* doing followup to this day, not only on the cancer patients, but on the siblings as well! It is a huge ongoing endeavor by a dedicated network of amazing researchers doing their best to make sure children don’t die of this eminently curable cancer, and to see them portrayed by Mike Adams as torturers or poisoners, well, it frankly makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

  16. #16 RevRon
    May 18, 2009

    dean said, “How do you tell when the problem is the one you mention, versus when the parents are really just not decent people?”

    Admittedly difficult. The first logical step, I would guess, would be to avoid making assumptions one way or the other when objective evidence that clearly supports those assumptions is lacking. It is so easy to react on a near-synaptic emotional level (we all do it when our buttons get pushed), and much more difficult to step back and ask what we might be missing. If I see a child whom I believe is being treated badly, I may well tend to assume maltreatment on the part of the parent (or whatever other adults are involved). Hopefully, I’m getting better about stepping back a bit in situations that are not too acute and trying to see the whole picture before I act, so that my own actions don’t serve to exacerbate an already difficult situation.

    And I do agree that everyone involved wants to see the best possible outcome for Daniel. My hope is that the best outcome for the entire family can be realized. I honestly believe that the judge’s ruling is a good starting point.

  17. #17 Emma B
    May 18, 2009

    Whether we chose parents or the government as arbitrator for children, there will be huge drawbacks on both sides. I choose for the drawback on the parent’s side. I understand the outrage here, but I am uncomfortable with intervening nontheless.

    It’s not a question of choosing who makes the decisions for the child — it’s about preserving the child’s natural rights. Children have a basic right to life/liberty/happiness just like adults do, but they aren’t able to take independent actions to protect their own health. If the parents won’t help them acquire the treatment they need, they’re infringing on the children’s rights. Even the most hard-core libertarians generally admit that rights protection is a legitimate function of the judicial system (the anarchists don’t, but that’s another matter).

    Of course, adults can choose not to exercise their own rights, as can older children. If Daniel Hauser were better educated, it’s quite possible that the judge would have found him competent to make the decision to reject treatment. However, nobody else can make that choice for him — a child’s rights don’t devolve onto his parents. Therefore, the default position is to protect his life, and force treatment over the objections of the parents.

    Sabio, what would your position be if Daniel himself wanted chemotherapy, and his parents were denying it against his wishes?

  18. #18 Anthro
    May 18, 2009

    Could Orac, or someone, please clarify Daniel’s mental development status? He doesn’t read (lack of ability or lack of teaching?), he doesn’t understand his condition and risks (same questions). Is Daniel mentally disabled or simply been deprived of proper education at home or at school?

  19. #19 Tacroy
    May 18, 2009

    I just have to comment on this, because it is actually true:

    By any honest mathematical analysis, cancer doctors are orders of magnitude more dangerous to our world than all the terrorists, ocean pirates and serial killers combined.

    In the last ten years, there have been a total of about 3000 deaths due to terrorism in the United States, 0 deaths due to ocean piracy, and probably somewhere in the range of 200-1000 deaths due to serial killers, as a really high estimate. On the other hand, in 1999 there were a total of 549,838 cancer deaths in the United States (hey, it was the first number I found). Assuming the number of deaths due to cancer is constant over ten years, that’s about 5.5 million deaths. If even 1% of them can be blamed on “cancer doctors” (due to simple human error), that’s still 55,000 deaths – more than ten times the deaths due to terrorism, ocean piracy, and serial killers!

    And yet, all this means is that cancer is horribly prevalent – while terrorism, ocean piracy, and serial killers are the things that only paranoid people worry about (unless you’re taking a cruise off the coast of Somalia or something).

  20. #20 Flex
    May 18, 2009

    RevRon wrote, “Obviously, there are no simple answers that will address the concerns of all parties,….”

    Well, there is a third party other than the parents and the government: the promoters of the woo.

    As you suggest, these people are either con artists or confused. While there certainly is a reason to pause before legislating any additional restrictions of speech on medical issues, I submit it would be less risky than greater government intervention in parental affairs and less difficult than trying to craft an approach to educating parents dealing with a deep emotional response.

    There are things which can be done legislatively which would reduce, although not eliminate, the enablers of woo. Repealing the DSHEA would be one possibility.

    If you wanted a change that would make the lawyers happy, simply legislate that any person or corporation which promotes a non-standard medical treatment resulted in injury to the patient is automatically accorded standing in any lawsuit dealing with that injury.

    Of course, I think the medical profession would also be greatly enhanced by trying to craft additional ways to educate emotionally distraught parents. Which isn’t to say that physician’s don’t have such tools today, but that additional tools would be helpful. I imagine most parents are able to appreciate the long-term benefits which sometimes require short-term pain. However, there will always be a few for whom the future is completely unmapped.

  21. #21 St. Paul
    May 18, 2009

    This story has been well-documented in Minnesota papers. Please do not judge the court on “interfering” in the lives of the parents and child until you know the entire story. Some 13-year-olds may be capable of making the choice to refuse care, but this child is not one of them. He has been “home-schooled”, but cannot read, and does not understand his illness. Nor do his parents seem to understand it very well, and they learned about the alternative remedies they are giving him on the internet. They aren’t religious – they’re ignorant. Here’s the full story. http://www.startribune.com/local/45190127.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUUsI

  22. #22 goatgirl
    May 18, 2009

    @ Anthro: Please do a Google search for Daniel’s testimony to the judge; you can read the whole document online. His inability to read appears to be a physical disability, possibly related to pregnancy and delivery issues with the mom.

    This story explains some more about the Hausers:

    http://www.nujournal.com/page/content.detail/id/506932.html

    My impression of this family is that they have chosen a lifestyle that is insular and out of the mainstream. The kids are home-schooled, for the most part. Five of the eight were delivered at home by a midwife. The kids do chores, play with each other and babysit the youngest ones. They don’t watch TV. I don’t know if they read or if they have any outside friends.

    They pray the rosary together every day and profess to be Catholic. But they only attend church every other week, and they don’t go to a local church – they go to Mankato, about half an hour away. I haven’t read anything that suggests they’re involved in either their parish or their community. Often in these cases, reporters will track down friends, neighbors, relatives, etc., who know and support the family and will say so publicly, but I’ve seen very little of that on behalf of the Hausers, at least so far. The family’s belief system, such as it is, appears to be cobbled together from whatever happens to appeal to them. I was raised Catholic, and virtually every Catholic I know would consider this family to be not quite in the mainstream.

    I think they’re just out of it – not really wanting to have any truck with the outside world. Maybe it’s their preference; maybe they’re just unsophisticated; maybe part of the issue is they’re not very bright. Unfortunately, when they eventually do collide with the outside world – in this case the medical world – the result can be misunderstanding, alienation and conflict.

    And BTW, Mike Adams should shut it. He is way off base.

  23. #23 happeh
    May 18, 2009

    Orac – “I had expected him to be wide-eyed and wild; his thousand-mile stare and rather flat delivery, to me, are far creepier than I expected.”

    Orac. Please post a video of yourself talking about anything into a camera, so we can all make personal judgemental comments about your appearance, that have nothing to do with the subject being discussed.
    —————————

    Adams – “Modern medicine is not a scientific debate, folks.”

    This is true isn’t it Orac? In your attack piece on me you did not debate any of my claims with me. You attacked without even telling me. I happened upon a blog link that included my name and brought me here. You just wanted to point and laugh at me. You did not want to debate.

    Adams – “It’s a system of control. Doctors, judges and courtrooms are simply tools of oppression to manipulate, poison and exploit a diseased population, all while isolating them from the natural cures that really work.”

    This is true also. Insurance will not pay for chiropractic or acupuncture or reflexology or most other alternative treatments. That is controlling medicine for the benefit of western medicine doctors. People go to the doctor they can pay for. If insurance only pays for western medicine, people are being controlled into western medicine and away from other treatments.

    Orac? How do you explain the movement by western doctors against midwives? Western Doctors ran a campaign to get rid of other health practitioners. If that is not controlling the health care of Americans, what is?

    “As medicine gained legitimacy and power toward the end of the nineteenth century, it called for the abolition of midwifery and home birth in favor of obstetrics in a hospital setting, a goal that it almost accomplished. In 1900, midwives attended almost half of all births; by 1935, the number had decreased to 12.5%.

    Midwives were portrayed as dirty, illiterate, and ignorant, and women were convinced that they were safer in the hands of doctors and hospitals. After providing care to women during the formative decades of our country, midwives were effectively stamped out in the early years of the 20th century.{mospagebreak}”

  24. #24 RickK
    May 18, 2009

    “He has been “home-schooled”, but cannot read”

    Wow. Government intervention should not stop with healthcare in this case.

    If my kids have to take the NCLB exams, then so should homeschooled kids. And if they fail, off to public school they go.

    A society cannot function without a minimum level of education.

  25. #25 Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    May 18, 2009

    I agree with St. Paul that you should click through and read the whole article. After that, you may have less sympathy with the parents, whose ‘home-schooling’ has left their 13-year old so that…

    ‘When tested by his teacher for entrance into a charter school, according to court documents, Daniel, who had been home-schooled, could not identify the following word:

    “The.”‘

    (emphasis mine)

    I’m sorry, but unless there is some positive demonstration of some provable developmental disabilities, this alone should convict them of child neglest and give the local Child Protective services reason to start a case to remove the boy from the parents’ care. (Of course, if there is some form of developmental problem, it is obvious he could not legally make such a decision as to accepting or rejecting treatment.)

    I can, grudgingly, accept a ‘home-schooling’ exemption to ‘compulsory attendance’ rules — ‘grudgingly’ because I think the interaction with peers — even if not always pleasant — is almost as important a part of ‘schooling’ as is the academic advantage of being taught by someone who actually knows something about the subject. But only if a home-schooled child is required to pass tests every year that would show if he is in fact being taught the minimum. A home-schooled child who can’t read at 13 is a scary thought.

    I also find little sympathy for the parents. Everybody uses the “they are certainly doing what they think best for the child” cliche. They may be, but then the mother who drowns her children because she believes she’s seen signs of ‘demonic possession’ in them is also ‘doing what she thinks best for the children.’

    However, the most fascinating part of the article was a reference it contained, to a site run by a group called Children’s Health Care is a Legal Duty, which apparently keeps full documentation on children’s deaths due to religiouly-based refusals of treatment.

    I suggest you click through to this, but not at work. Not because there is anything sexual on the site, but because you will be crying and thinking too hard to concentrate on your job the rest of the day. Read it at home, but if you live alone, call a friend over so you can have some piece of sanity to hold on to.

  26. #26 Denice Walter
    May 18, 2009

    (Adams mentions magic… I mean, *medicinal* mushrooms.Hmmm.)He advocates escaping the powers of Big Pharma and Big Farm(e.g. Monsanto)in the US and joining him in the beautifully-greenly-natural,herb-luxuriant,toxin-free,organically-certified,health-freedom-friendly “Valley of Longevity” in Ecuador.His website details homesites,tours, and conferences available to his audience.Imagine if you will,an entire valley of the woo-susceptible,guided and educated by Adams.

  27. #27 madder
    May 18, 2009

    @Tacroy–

    If even 1% of them can be blamed on “cancer doctors” (due to simple human error), that’s still 55,000 deaths – more than ten times the deaths due to terrorism, ocean piracy, and serial killers!

    Your intellectually honest estimate of the reality of iatrogenic losses of cancer patients rather misses Adams’ point. He is not interested in reality or intellectual honesty. For him, everyone who dies of cancer while under a doctor’s treatment was actively and intentionally murdered by that doctor. He intends to count all 550,000 annual deaths, not some of them. In his bizarro-world, only quacks are innocent of taking human life.

  28. #28 Flex
    May 18, 2009

    happeh opined, ” If insurance only pays for western medicine, people are being controlled into western medicine and away from other treatments.”

    Well, I think you have the causal path wrong. Insurance companies generally pay for medicine which has been demonstrated to work.

    Why? because the reason you get health insurance is to pay for medical treatment you can’t afford yourself. Since insurance companies would rather you didn’t make claims, they try to restrict the claims you make to treatments which work rather than treatments which don’t. After all, a sick person costs them money, a healthy person makes them money. That’s the motivation for all the various wellness programs promoted by insurance companies.

    Of course, even that is not strictly true, my insurance company does pay for chiropractic and some other alternative treatments. Why would they do that when a physical therapist is more effective at reducing back pain than a chiropractor? Because there are a lot of believers in alternative medicine out there, some of whom are in charge of corporate HR programs and will choose a quack-friendly insurance program over a strictly evidence-based medicine one.

    The money the insurance companies lose by adding alternative medicine coverage to their insurance packages is greatly offset by their increased ability to win business. (Another win for the unregulated market, where the demand of ignorant consumers forces even ethical insurance companies to cover dubious medical treatment in order to stay in business.)

  29. #29 Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    May 18, 2009

    Not sure why the whole paragraph was the link, must have left out a “/” Sorry.

    Anyway, if the site didn’t disturb you enough, I have a parallel that may. (The story is based on a real boy — at least the ‘movie theatre’ part — but there was never any prosecution in the case. And no, not me, though I might have done the same thing at the boy’s age.)

    A 13-year old boy is found having sex with an adult. The boy is intelligent, obviously mature for his age mentally, though there is no question that he looks his age, and testifies that he specifically and deliberately initiated, in fact, sought out the encounter. The owners of a local gay theatre testify that they have repeatedly ejected the boy but that he continuously came back, slipping through an exit door when someone left.

    Because of the ‘age of consent’ the adult could and probably would be prosecuted.

    Furthermore, in many jurisdictions, were the parents to be shown to have known of their child’s sexuality, and could be shown to have accepted and encouraged his actions — if only because they realizd that accepting them was the only way to teach him to have sex responsibly — they might have the child taken from them.

    Yet a 13-year old boy who has been so ill-educated as to be unable to read a single word, who is unable to understand the argument against ‘conventional medicine’ that he is believed to be relying on, and whose decision is provably a choice for suicide is, by the defenders of his choice, assumed ‘mature’ enough to make such a decision.

    And as yet, no CPS has chosen to act against the parents because of this type of ‘acceptance’ or for the mal-education they permitted.

  30. #30 RevRon
    May 18, 2009

    “Everybody uses the “they are certainly doing what they think best for the child” cliche. They may be, but then the mother who drowns her children because she believes she’s seen signs of ‘demonic possession’ in them is also ‘doing what she thinks best for the children.’”

    I think we’re jumping over a broad gray area in making this point. There’s a difference (IMO) between making a poor decision as to a child’s medical care and actually taking action that will definitely kill the child. It is akin to comparing one parent’s unwillingness to feed their children what is generally considered to be a balanced diet – opting instead for some fad diet – with another parent’s choice to feed the children arsenic.

  31. #31 dean
    May 18, 2009

    ” Insurance will not pay for chiropractic or acupuncture or reflexology or most other alternative treatments”

    That’s because they are f*****g worthless – they only thing they help is the wallet of the scam artist “practitioner”.

  32. #32 Dawn
    May 18, 2009

    @happeh: I beg to differ. Many insurances DO pay for chiropractic care and acupuncture. Even though they have not been proven effective (except for chiropractic for some forms of back pain), they are covered under many policies.

    As for what happened to midwives, well, it is unfair the doctors drove them out. However, society–men and women–let it happen, not just the midwives. If women had insisted on being cared for by trained midwives instead of the doctors, doctors would not have gained so much power. But not all midwives, then OR now, were safer than doctors. Good midwives know their limits. Bad ones exceed them and give all midwives a bad name. Doctors have their place, even in obstetrics. Midwives have theirs. They can work together very effectively or they can work against each other. However, the (male)group with the most money and prestige won.

  33. #33 Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    May 18, 2009

    No, RevRon, that gray area does not exist in this case. These parents are, by inaction, as certainly killing their child as they would be if they saw him drowning in a swimming pool, knew they could swim and save them, but because of a hyper-Sabbatarianism refused to dive into the pool.

    Your fad diet example is apt, if you take it one step further. Imagine they were given a diet by a religious adviser that included peanut butter sandwiches once a week, and were instructed to ‘make no substitutions.’ They knew their son had a peanut allergy, which had been shown by tests, but, knowing this, they still insisted on him following the diet they were taight was “God’s way of eating” — btw, I am not using ‘religious’ and ‘Christian’ interchangeably, since this sort of quackery is probably more prevalent in alternative religions and fringe Christianity.

    The grey area may indeed exist in other cases, not involving life-threatening diseases, and other parents might qualify for ‘the benefit of the doubt.’ But the facts in this case have already condemned the parents — either they have chosen not to teach him to read, or he is so developmentally disabled that he needs special care they choose not to give him.

    But in this case, your argument is hideously wrong.

  34. #34 Anthro
    May 18, 2009

    Just a word or two on home schooling. My 22-year-old was completely schooled by me until ninth grade. We used no set curriculum, spent no money except for the Japanese tutor and a few incidental supplies. We made liberal use of the library where he read hundreds of books (taught himself to read at age four) and taught himself to use the computer and helped dozens of older people set up their first email accounts.

    He took his first test (the PSAT) at age 14 and scored in the 99th percentile and attended boarding school thereafter. He hasn’t gone to college yet, but is making a good living nonetheless.

    The point I wish to make is that it is not where your child is educated but, rather, that you have a goal in mind (i.e., literacy in reading, writing, math, science, geography, history, art and whatever else you wish to include).

    If you have stupid parents doing this, you are likely to get an illiterate child, if you have intelligent parents who know where to find help with what they don’t know (utilizing community resources for one) and expose the child to an enriched environment, he or she will learn on his or her own and, in some cases, be way ahead of his or her institutionally educated peers.

    As to socialization; does it ever occur to critics of home education that it is possible to interact with human beings in any other context besides school? Our community had a vibrant network of “unschoolers” (the term that separates us from the those that home school for religious reasons) who regularly got together for workshops where parents “taught” classes in their area of expertise (things like medieval musical instruments–what fun ten year old boys can have with the discovery of the sackbut!), anthropology, all kinds of art, and so on. Kids educated at home mix with all different age groups. They get a lot more opportunities for community involvement because they aren’t cooped up in a stuffy building all day. They get to go to nature workshops, read as long as they want to, help old ladies off the bus and carry their bag, learn to be comfortable conversing with disabled people on the bus and elsewhere, go shopping with their parents where opportunities to educate are many (“figure the discount on the sale item and I’ll pay half”). They get to learn by doing and they are comfortable with all ages, not just their peers as you see with school education.

    Well, I could go on, but to stay even a bit on topic, I will just say that Daniel is disadvantaged by his parents stupidity, not because of home schooling, per se.

  35. #35 Prup (aka Jim Benton)
    May 18, 2009

    It is because of cases like yours that I made the exemption, though I could argue the socialization point more. But what i said referred particularly to this case, and I wouldn’t be so kind as to merely describe it as stupidity.

  36. #36 Anthro
    May 18, 2009

    To goatgirl: Thank you for the link and your comments which I found helpful and illuminating.

  37. #37 RevRon
    May 18, 2009

    Well, Prup, if you can state unequivocally that Daniel’s parents consciously chose to allow their son to die, and intentionally embarked upon a course of action that would certainly result in his death, I can see where you would deny that there is any gray area in this case, and pronounce judgment on the parents. Of course, in order to make such a determination, you would have to been privy to the results of the tests already run on Daniel (not to mention the results of tests which the judge ordered, but which have, I assume, yet to be run), as well as in-depth psych evaluations of the parents to determine their motives and reasoning. Without access to all this information, I would suggest that any conclusion reached would include a healthy dose of speculation. Apparently, the judge saw fit to give the parents the opportunity to be educated and to act appropriately, since he chose not to encourage the state to immediately bring any charges against them.

    As I have previously stated, I happen to agree with the judge’s actions, and believe that the child needs to be given proper medical care, even if it is against his parents’ wishes. But I also believe that the armchair assessments of the parents’ motivations is of questionable accuracy, much less of value in resolving the current situation. In my book, the rush to condemnation is not only unfair to the parents, but counterproductive in addressing future similar cases. And I am willing to let my assessment stand on its own merits, sans superlative dismissals, which serve only to inflame emotions, rather than bolster the merits of one’s case.

  38. #38 Matilda
    May 18, 2009

    Damn right I poisened my toddler. I poisened her with chemo, TBI and her Aunt’s marrow. Today she’s 18 and ALIVE.

  39. #39 Scott
    May 18, 2009

    Frankly, the parents’ motivations and reasoning are pretty much irrelevant here. The result is what matters, and the bottom-line result is that they’re killing their son. It doesn’t make a jot of difference whether they realize that or not – the state’s duty to intervene is unaffected.

    Personally, I think Orac’s right and they’re probably just overreacting to the emotional trauma of his aunt’s death and (subconsciously) grasping at any rationalization to support that. But that does not excuse them in the eyes of the law, nor should it.

  40. #40 tim gueguen
    May 18, 2009

    People like Adams need to put up or shut up. If they think treatment X works to cure something they need to have it properly scientifically tested. But my guess is they won’t, because they’re too far down the rabbit hole of illogic and paranoia. Not that testing always convinces the true believers they’re wrong. Just look up the idea of the skeptic effect and psychic powers as an example.

  41. #41 RevRon
    May 18, 2009

    “Frankly, the parents’ motivations and reasoning are pretty much irrelevant here.”

    Well, if the ultimate goal is the prevention of situations such as Daniel’s, being able (and willing) to address the parents’ mindset is very relevant, since it is ultimately the parent who makes choices regarding their children’s medical care. And the best way to persuade someone to accept a different perspective is to actually listen to and address their concerns, rather than summarily condemning them. Such condemnation only gives rise to further confrontation and legal wrangling. I would think it preferable to seek a resolution that is satisfactory to all parties if at all possible. Apparently, the judge in the case felt the same way.

  42. #42 Prometheus
    May 18, 2009

    Happeh laments:

    “How do you explain the movement by western doctors against midwives? Western Doctors ran a campaign to get rid of other health practitioners.”

    That, of course, would explain why midwives have disappeared, except that it doesn’t explain why midwives are delivering babies at all of my local hospitals. It also doesn’t explain why obstetricians work with midwives (devlivering their high-risk and difficult patients).

    In fact, Happeh seems to have entirely missed the existence of Nurse Pracitioners, Physician Assistants, Nurse Anesthetists and other “health practitioners”.

    Just because doctors don’t like working with quacks doesn’t mean they are trying to “get rid of other health practitioners”.

    And, as an aside, is it appropriate to call homeopaths, naturopaths and chiropracters “health practitioners” when there is no data supporting the claim that they do anything to make their patients better?

    Seriously, aside from chiropractice and minor muscular back pain, is there any data showing that the victims/patients of these “health practitioners” get better any faster or more often than people who receive placebo?

    Prometheus

  43. #43 goatgirl
    May 18, 2009

    With all due respect, Scott, I think the parents’ motivation and reasoning actually are relevant – if for no other reason than to help the authorities – Brown County Family Services, the medical team, whoever – understand where they’re coming from and try to come up with some kind of strategy to get this kid into treatment.

    If the parents continue to resist, they more than likely will lose custody of this child and I think it’s going to be traumatic, especially for him. I think it would be better if this could be accomplished in a way that doesn’t add to the emotional damage that has probably already occurred.

    But you’re right – no matter what their intentions are, they are killing their child. I read some of the earlier accounts of this story and apparently Daniel was quite sick at the time his cancer was diagnosed. The tumor was crowding his airway and he couldn’t walk a block without turning color. This kid was *suffering.* His family had to have seen it, and yet they continue to insist he doesn’t need appropriate medical care.

  44. #44 Scott
    May 18, 2009

    Good points. But what I’m really trying to get at is that the motivations aren’t relevant to the law. Naturally they’re important to educational efforts, but the judge’s duty is the same regardless. (Equally naturally, I’m sure there are legal nuances here of which I’m unaware. I’m trying to state a general principle, not a blanket over all the details.)

    Thanks for making me clarify!

  45. #45 Michael Simpson
    May 18, 2009

    Orac, thank you for posting this review. I tried to watch the video, and it was just too creepy. I’m sorry, but he sounded like a sociopath. What was that noise in the background?

    Anyways, I wish I read this earlier, because I’m itching for an argument with the the oncology deniers.

  46. #46 Prometheus
    May 18, 2009

    Mike Adams rants:

    “…conventional medicine operates from the false belief that there is no cure for cancer!”

    In a way, Mike Adams’ characterisation of “conventional” (real) medicine is correct – there is no “cure for cancer”.

    After all, “cancer” is not a single disease, it is many diseases and there are cancers that are – today – incurable. In addition, even if all cancers were curable, it seems exceedingly unlikely that a single treatment would work for all of them.

    Thus, there is no (single) cure for (all) cancer(s).

    Of course, Mike Adams’ understanding of cancer is – by his own writing – very primitive. Even doctors of the Victorian Era understood that cancers were different. Mr. Adams’ conception of cancer would be more appropriate for the early Age of Enlightenment (early eighteenth century) or perhaps even earlier.

    Mr. Adams apparently sees “cancer” in much the same way primitive people saw “fever” – a monolithic disorder in need of a single “cure”. Thus, as primitive shamans were puzzled when an infusion of Cinchona bark would cure some fevers and not others, post-modern “alternative” practitions (and Mr. Adams) fail to appreciate that all “cancer” does not have the same cause or treatment.

    As a result, Mr. Adams erroneously views the absence of a “cure for all cancer” in modern medicine as a “failure” to find a cure for any cancer.

    Now, it is possible that Mr. Adams isn’t this dense, but is simply trying to raise the apparent stature of “alternative” medicine by falsely smearing real medicine. It may be he actually understands that claiming modern medicine can’t cure any cancer (which is incorrect) doesn’t mean that “alternative” medicine can.

    However, in the absence of any data supporting that hypothesis, I’ll take Mr. Adams at his word that he is, indeed, as stupid as he claims to be.

    Prometheus

  47. #47 goatgirl
    May 18, 2009

    Thanks, Scott, I couldn’t agree more.

  48. #48 Anthro
    May 18, 2009

    Prup:

    I will defend the socialization of home educated children. In fact, I think I can make a case for it being superior. There isn’t much to be gained from sitting all day with your exact peers listening to teachers who may be less informed than half the students. Of course, this all depends on the quality of what the parent is offering in the way of socialization opportunities as well as the quality of the school and its teachers. I just don’t think there is any data to suggest that, on average, home educated children are better or worse socialized than children who attend school (and I have researched this). My son spent a lot of time with his schooled friends and with other home schooled peers. He also spent time with adults in learning situations and did just fine when he entered boarding school at age 14.

    What’s the problem that you allude to? Also, I don’t think that my group of home schoolers (non-religious) want nor need your “exemption”. We are acting in accordance with the law in our state. Daniel’s parents are the exception in that they seem to only keep their children at home to keep them away from others (article in local paper). Also, it appears that Daniel has some disabilities that have contributed to his inability to read. Since the family lives in a small town, these problems may not have been adequately addressed even if he had gone to school, although it is a shame, indeed, that the parents did not seem to have obtained any intervention on his behalf. One can only conclude that this family is, to put if charitably, “not very bright”; in which case, I would agree that Daniel would probably be better off in school.

  49. #49 Paul Johnson
    May 18, 2009

    I especially like promotheus’ take on this

  50. #50 Zach Miller
    May 18, 2009

    Is it wrong for me to kind want Mike Adams to GET cancer, so that he can treat himself with homeopathic whatever and find out for himself that it doesn’t actually work? Of course, I doubt he’d actually come to that realization. He’d be on his deathbed refusing chemo because Big Pharma and the “cancer industry” is Teh_Devil.

    P.S. “Cancer industry?” Really?!

  51. #51 luddie
    May 18, 2009

    I like Prometheus’ comments as well! I check this blog regularly to see what (s)he has to say. Maybe it’s time for your own blog Prom!

  52. #52 Chris
    May 18, 2009

    luddie:

    I like Prometheus’ comments as well! I check this blog regularly to see what (s)he has to say. Maybe it’s time for your own blog Prom!

    Click on his name, his blog is http://photoninthedarkness.com/

  53. #53 Matthew Cline
    May 18, 2009

    @happeh:

    Orac – “I had expected him to be wide-eyed and wild; his thousand-mile stare and rather flat delivery, to me, are far creepier than I expected.”

    Orac. Please post a video of yourself talking about anything into a camera, so we can all make personal judgemental comments about your appearance, that have nothing to do with the subject being discussed.

    What, so people aren’t allowed to make asides in their blog posts? He didn’t use it as support in his argument that Addams is wrong, so it’s not a logical fallacy or anything.

  54. #54 Militant Agnostic
    May 18, 2009

    luddie – click on Prometheus’ name at the end of his post to go to his Photon In the Darkness Blog.

  55. #55 jj
    May 18, 2009

    Happeh said:

    Insurance will not pay for chiropractic or acupuncture

    Well mine sure does, so I think you are bit off base. Never used it though, but I may some day (I don’t believe in any use, acupuncture just sounds relaxing, like getting a massage)

  56. #56 Kris
    May 18, 2009

    This Mike Adams guy is just bizarre. No one cured of cancer with chemotherapy?

    My husband was declared cured of non-Hodgkins lymphoma after ten years of remission brought on by the chemotherapy and radiation treatments he got in 1983-84.

    Our only child was 12 at the time of his diagnosis, and he has lived to see her graduate from high school and college, get married, and become a mom. He’s an energetic and healthy semi-retiree now, and we both spend a lot of time with our very active little grandson.

    Mike Adams is just stupid.

  57. #57 Chris
    May 18, 2009

    Erin:

    Also, the second sign someone is full of it: disabled or approval-pending comments sections. With one, positive comment in it. On a vid with 4,000+ views.

    I went over and looked at the comments on both videos (over a hundred on the first, a couple dozen on the second, though several were duplicates… one comment was repeated at least three times). All of them in support with additional sprinkling of conspiracy laden rhetoric.

    I think I lost some IQ points, I need to bring them up by continuing to catch-up with the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe podcasts (I’m up to 2007, and did start at the beginning of last year, so only about 60 to go!).

  58. #58 Scrabcake
    May 18, 2009

    I think that in Sabio’s world, a world where all decisions on child welfare are at the discretion of the parent, there needs to be a licensing test for becoming a parent. Because any idiot can and does reproduce, we wind up with a lot of kids whose parents are crazy, dumb as rocks, and a frightening number who just don’t give a crap. Is it the fault of the kids that their parents are complete imbeciles? Shouldn’t they be given just about anything society can give allow them to make their own way in this world them short of taking them away from the loving or not so loving environment of their idiot parents? Anyone who thinks that parents always know best has apparently never worked in a school.

  59. #59 DLC
    May 18, 2009

    Once again, Mike Adams brings the burning stupid to a new level. It’s darn near thermonuclear stupid.
    Followed by Happeh, who thinks you wrote a “hit piece” on him.
    Um.. right.
    Well, I’m going to hit you as well, Happeh, since you seem to wish it.
    First off, some health plans regrettably do pay for chiropractic and acupuncture, even though the former has been shown to not be any better than ordinary physiotherapy, and the latter has been shown time and time again to not have an effect greater than that of placebo.

  60. #60 Ciaphas
    May 18, 2009

    I was wondering how Adams could be so absurd as to deny chemotherapy working at all, but I think I figured it out.

    We’re dealing with people who are scamming kids with cancer. Think about it; if you make your living by defrauding dying children you need some way to justify yourself. What better way than to say “sure my treatment doesn’t actually help, but normal therepy actually kills them. Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

  61. #61 Skepacabra
    May 18, 2009

    I would love it if someone created a website called “Why Does Mike Adams Pay Taxes?” The same goes for Alex Jones. If these guys really believe the government is this great boogyman who casually kill thousands of people all the time, why do they continue to pay their taxes?

  62. #62 Jay Gordon
    May 19, 2009

    Parents who attempt to deny their child conventional cancer treatment with an extremely high cure rate give those of us who believe in alternative medicine a black eye.

    This child should receive the needed and standard treatment for his cancer with no further delay.

    Best,

    Jay

  63. #63 medstudent6973
    May 19, 2009

    If Mike is so good at what he does, and he is so confident… Let’s set up this fictional experiment. Ideally, this would never happen because the outcome is obvious.

    Let’s put Mike in one room and the average oncologist in the other. They each get 10 families, one member of each family suffering from any variant of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Again, if you see where I’m going with this, it’s a thought experiment, and thankfully not a real one.

    I’d like to see each individual treat their patients to the best of their ability using the any resources possible. Not only that, but you have to become close to the patient and the family. Better yet, you have to speak with the other “doctor’s” patients and get close with them too.

    At what point to you think Mike would crumble? Would it be during the treatment, laying in the fetal position crying that he’s a fraud? Or would it be after all 10 of his patients had died and the families wanted answers? Place the two “doctors” in a room together with the surviving patients, the families of the survived patients, and families of the deceased. Just playing through this thought experiment makes me want to punch Mike in the face. I could imagine that the family member’s of the patients he neglected would like to punch him in the face as well.

    Numbers don’t lie Mike. When you neglect them as a web-blogger, it’s not that big of a deal. If you were a doctor as described above, I think you’d be crying by the end of the scenario, and/or you’d have a lot of families to explain your failures to. The “toxin” word won’t work with families whose loved-one is dead, especially when all the surviving members were the one’s who received those “deadly toxins”. I hope you read this you stupid fuck.

  64. #64 Joe
    May 19, 2009

    Jay Gordon | May 19, 2009 3:12 AM wrote “Parents who attempt to deny their child conventional cancer treatment with an extremely high cure rate give those of us who believe in alternative medicine a black eye.”

    No, by getting involved in quackery (most particularly, your promotion of infectious diseases) you give yourself a black eye.

  65. #65 joe
    May 19, 2009

    What the hell is wrong with this mike guy??

  66. #66 Orac
    May 19, 2009

    Parents who attempt to deny their child conventional cancer treatment with an extremely high cure rate give those of us who believe in alternative medicine a black eye.

    But, Dr. Jay, what about those who demonize vaccines based on no scientific data? Don’t they give alt-med mavens a black eye, too?

  67. #67 notmercury
    May 19, 2009

    Jay Gordon:

    Parents who attempt to deny their child conventional cancer treatment with an extremely high cure rate give those of us who believe in alternative medicine a black eye.

    So is the cure rate the deciding factor? It’s acceptable to refuse potentially life saving treatment if the odds are less favorable? Where is the cut-off?

    As far as I can tell, refusing medical treatment all together isn’t quite the same as choosing alternative over conventional medicine. Weighing the risks is only possible if we understand that the benefits have been grossly exaggerated by alternative practitioners.

    It’s not like making a choice between two chemotherapeutic agents with comparable efficacy but different side effects. It’s a choice between a combination of highly effective drugs over a bunch of vitamins that have little if any impact on lymphoma.

  68. #68 Ruth
    May 19, 2009

    Dr. Jay-What about parents who refuse treatment for HIV infection? Have you learned from the needless death of E. Scoval?

  69. #69 dean
    May 19, 2009

    jay’s just another internet quack trying to look “conventional enough” to avoid being considered loony. if you look at his site, you’ll see how badly his ploy fails.

  70. #70 Christophe Thill
    May 19, 2009

    Mike Adams’ ridiculous “chemotherapy” cartoon is crazy enough. But the side panels on that very page are priceless. Did you know that Mike can help you achieve “genetic immortality”? Or that he has an “advanced swine flu preparedness course”, praised by such luminaries as “N. Nelson (Arizona)” and “Bev” (provided they even exist)? And all the “additional products of interest to all” such as the “water purifier”, the “guide for reversing diabetes”, etc? Hey, a guy can attack Big Pharma and still try to make a (more or less) honest buck…

  71. #71 Prometheus
    May 19, 2009

    “Dr. Jay” opines:

    “Parents who attempt to deny their child conventional cancer treatment with an extremely high cure rate give those of us who believe in alternative medicine a black eye.

    This child should receive the needed and standard treatment for his cancer with no further delay.

    Now, I’d like to ask for a little compassion from the group. Dr. Jay is showing that he is not a total “altie” in his practice – he at least recognizes that treating Hodgkin’s lymphoma with chemotherapeutic agents is the “standard of practice”. We should rejoice!

    Let’s not discourage Dr. Jay from coming to grips with evidence-based medicine by throwing his previous laughable defences of errant nonsense in his face. For those who think if Dr. Jay says “black”, the true answer must be “white”, this simple comment shows that he is aware of the current best practices for at least one disorder.

    This might well be the first step on a longer journey toward reality for Dr. Jay. Let us be encouraging and not give him excuses to turn from the narrow path of truth back to the pleasant meadow of fantasy.

    Dr. Jay, to you I say “Bravo!” You have shown me that you aren’t a knee-jerk “altie”, which infinitely increases my opinion of you. Perhaps, in time, you can tell us other areas of medicine where you agree with what the majority of data tell us. Until then, “Good on ya!”

    Prometheus

  72. #72 goatgirl
    May 19, 2009

    Oh, crumbs. This does not look good:

    NEW ULM, Minn. (AP) — A 13-year-old Minnesota boy resisting chemotherapy for cancer has missed a court hearing on his welfare, and his father says the whereabouts of the boy and his mother are unknown.
    Daniel Hauser and his parents, Colleen and Anthony Hauser, were to appear in Brown County District Court on Tuesday. A judge had ordered the boy to undergo a chest X-ray to see how his Hodgkins lymphoma was progressing.
    But only Anthony Hauser appeared in court. He testified that he last saw Colleen and Daniel on Monday morning. He said his wife told him she was going to leave and “That’s all you need to
    know.”
    A court-appointed attorney for Daniel is recommending that custody of the boy be transferred to Brown County.

  73. #73 Rogue Epidemiologist
    May 19, 2009

    @goatgirl
    Tranquilizer darts fired from 20 yards. That oughtta do it.

  74. #74 goatgirl
    May 19, 2009

    A warrant has been issued for her arrest. She probably believes she’s saving her son, but unfortunately what she’s really doing is exposing him to even more trauma than he’s already experienced.

    They ought to charge the father too for being an accessory.

  75. #75 dean
    May 19, 2009

    “They ought to charge the father too for being an accessory”. Agreed. My opinion of the parents has just dropped significantly, something one day ago I would have said couldn’t happen.

  76. #76 Jane
    May 19, 2009

    I think that the Hauser could bring their child to Saint Judge Hospital, where their son can receive cancer treatments. I read a story a while ago about a little boy who had cancer. He was like 4 yrs old. After putting him through so much chemotherapy, they deciced to strengthen it. It was so toxic and uncomfortable( the chemicals oozing through his skin) that the mother had to give many baths per day to the poor little boy. The mom was so desperate and one day while walking in a park, saw an ad of Saint Jude Hospital. It was like divine providence for the boy. She contacted them and Saint Jude Hospital was able to provide for a safer and alternate method that chemo.,,I don’t know if the Hauser have looked into alternate medical methods, more acceptable to court than the native American one. It’s scary not to have freedom to decide which type of treatment one wants for one child. don’t tell me the judge has more love for the boy than his mom!!! That is what freedom has reached here!!!

  77. #77 Prometheus
    May 19, 2009

    Jane comments:

    “It was so toxic and uncomfortable( the chemicals oozing through his skin)…”

    OK, I have to call “bullshit” on this one. “Chemicals oozing through his skin…”! What utter twaddle!

    It. Never. Happened.

    There, I’ve said it. I never thought that I would call someone an out-and-out liar on a ‘blog, but this one is definitely a made-up, invented, prevaricating lie.

    I’ve seen people getting very aggressive chemotherapy – I’ve seen people on death’s doorstep from “heroic” chemotherapy, but I’ve never seen anyone that had “chemicals” (unless you acknowledge that blood, sweat and serum are “chemicals” – which they are) “oozing through their skin”. Nor have any of the oncologists or cancer researchers I have worked with seen such a thing. That’s because it doesn’t happen.

    Prometheus

  78. #78 Chris
    May 19, 2009

    Jay Gordon:

    Parents who attempt to deny their child conventional cancer treatment with an extremely high cure rate give those of us who believe in alternative medicine a black eye.

    This child should receive the needed and standard treatment for his cancer with no further delay.

    One of the side effects of cancer therapy vulnerability to infection. Cancer patients are in the group of people who need to rely on herd immunity for pertussis, measles, influenza, etc, etc.

    Are you now going to help bolster the waning herd immunity in Southern California by making sure each and every one of your young patients is fully immunized?

  79. #79 dean
    May 19, 2009

    Prometheus: I agree with your assessment that the “oozing through the skin” story is bullshit, but (for what it’s worth) it doesn’t seem to be Jane saying she saw this: she claimed to have “read a story” – so she may only be repeating the lie, not starting it.

  80. #80 justme
    May 20, 2009

    Orac. Just wondering if you see vaccines as a good thing or a bad thing???

  81. #81 Chris
    May 20, 2009

    justme = reading comprehension fail for this entire blog

  82. #82 Anna
    May 23, 2009

    You ARE what you eat. You ARE what you put into your body. You ARE what you look like in the mirror. You ARE what you drink. You ARE everything you do to your body. TRUTH doesn’t change no matter what any of you believe. I weighed over 215lbs doing it the way of this government and science and medical profession. I use to ache everywhere and things in my body were failing. Over night I threw out all artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors out of my diet. I started to simply consume only natural organically raised food. Within one year I was down to 150lbs and feel great all the time. Is this a science? Is this a religion? Is this real? What is a fact? Everything you say or do, it seems so hard to find, but yet when the trouble is finally through you can not explain why? I am now a hottie… thanks to common sense… nothing to do with anything science or medical profession has to give. Only Nature… medicinal mushrooms are Reishi, Shiitaki, Maitake, Lion’s Mane… only to name a few. Mike Adams is the best thing that ever happened to this sight. I’ve met him – he’s a really kind, loving, caring person… this message he is giving is for your benefit. Take it or leave it – your quality of life is more important that the quantity. Look good, feel great, be healthy. I’ll have what he’s having. Hope you make it to the other side… cause the health of your being is really up to YOU!

  83. #83 Michael
    May 25, 2009

    Orac, he may be crazy but he does have a point: if the authorities have stepped in here, might this not mean that other denialists will be even more reluctant to bring their children into the medical system for any reason (fearing the “establishment” will take away their woo)?

    Of course he’s the problem personified (since he himself recommended never taking a child to see a doctor) but it’s not inconceivable that cases like these could have unintended adverse effects of diminishing whatever small chances the children of denialist parents have for proper treatment. Which makes it all the more sad since it’s a lose-lose situation for the kids.

  84. #84 Blueyes
    May 25, 2009

    I think one issue is the definition of “cure”. I have read and heard the argument that doctors do not “cure” cancer because they only kill the existing cancer cells and not the “underlying cause” of the cancer. The only reason the cancer may not come back is that it comes back more slowly or delayed, because of the underlying cause still being there. How should that argument be answered?

  85. #85 Chris
    May 25, 2009

    Blueyes:

    I have read and heard the argument that doctors do not “cure” cancer because they only kill the existing cancer cells and not the “underlying cause” of the cancer.

    Which particular “cause” of cancer is being discussed? Is it radiation from the sun, or the effects of tobacco smoke, or the effect of a virus like hepatitis or human papillomavirus, or genetic disposition, or one of the other various causes of cancer? Cancer is not one disease, it is many.

    So just ask for specifics: type of cancer, suspected cause of cancer, and on and on and on.

  86. #86 ademers1980
    June 2, 2009

    It’s pretty much a non-issue since the parents changed their minds, but this is one thing that’s bothered me in the whole debate. Why has this been presented by so many as an infringement on parental rights when this could be considered medical neglect? Do those who side with the mother’s original decision think parents should be able to deny diabetic children insulin? What’s the difference?

  87. #87 thomas
    June 30, 2009

    I think that Mike Adams makes a lot of sense in regard to his views on chemotherapy, it’s highly damaging side effects etc.
    He has obviously upset many in the conventional cancer business, yes business!! with the truths he has come out with.
    Even the world’s leading cancer stem cell research scientists would agree with most of what Adams is saying, one world leader in stem cell research was reported as saying that there is now mounting evidence to support the fact that the wrong cancer cells have been targeted over the past few decades & likened chemotherapy treatment to spraying weeds above ground level, whilst the real problem being the roots…same with cancer, a surgeon might remove a malignant tumor, but the cancer stem cells are still there…the real driving force or ‘engine room’ of those tumors, & can regrow that tumor again later.
    So until scientists perfect the so-called targeted cancer drugs that will attack & kill only! the cancer cells, patients undergoing conventional chemotherapy will continue to suffer the sometimes horrendous side effects, the killing of good & healthy cells & tissue, along with major organ damage, to the liver, heart & kidneys etc, which is damage Adams says if irreversible.

  88. #88 Scientizzle
    June 30, 2009

    I think that Mike Adams makes a lot of sense in regard to his views on chemotherapy, it’s highly damaging side effects etc.

    You know what has more highly damaging effects than chemotherapy? Cancer.

    Even the world’s leading cancer stem cell research scientists would agree with most of what Adams is saying…

    I find that highly unlikely. I call shenanigans.

    Chemo is hardly perfect–but it does work for many cancers sufficently better than many other options. Until the vaporware perfect cancer-fighting technology is designed, chemo and its decendent therapies may be long in the arsenal of oncologists that actually want a chance to cure their patients.

  89. #89 Grace
    August 12, 2009

    That’s the problem with the word ‘cure’–there isn’t one!!!!There will never be one, at least, not in the way science is approaching cancer. And we really need to define what ‘cure’ actually means. I find it so mind boggling that no one ever ever makes any connection between that which happens to us and the kind of lives we’re leading. It’s like we wake up every morning in a daze and as soon as crisis strikes, we aim for the big guns like we’re fighting some enemy. Cancer, like everything else, is a result of cause and effect. Chemotherapy is an option, not a cure. Choosing to have your breasts cut off in case you develop cancer is an option as well, not a cure. And there are countless testimonials of others who have chosen different routes with success as well, using non invasive methods. But these guys are considered the quacks, the fools because they choose the alternative. Why is that so bizarre? That one may actually believe there’s more out there than what science has to offer, at least in this case? Do you really think it’s Mike Adams living in the shadows? Really? The other side always appears far out when your feet are firmly planted in your own soil. Mike Adams may appear to be extreme to some but so is this so called ‘run for the cure’ and ‘let’s raise as much money as we can’ to create a better technology for what? To prevent cancer? Not so. The medical model, as much as doctors want to save their patients, operates from a place of disease NOT health. Its aim with regards to cancer is to drug, burn, cut, poison, and radiate. How come no one ever talks about prevention only early detection? And there are some of us out there who can see the benefits of the medical model and the alternative. I think that when the two are bridged, great things can be achieved. But to call Mike Adams stupid or weird is completely absurd. As far as I’m concerned, I’m just not able to resonate with many of the comments I’ve read here. Perhaps Mike Adams has made a false statement about chemotherapy never ‘curing’ anyone but it’s a far better statement than having your doctor tell you, “This is your ONLY option. . .” There is absolutely no freedom in that.

  90. #90 Prometheus
    August 12, 2009

    Grace really piles on the woo:

    That’s the problem with the word ‘cure’–there isn’t one!!!!There will never be one, at least, not in the way science is approaching cancer.

    There will never be a (as in “one”) cure for cancer because cancer is not a single disease. Talking about “a” cure for cancer is like talking about a single “fix” for all automobile breakdowns. It’s like saying that the same thing that “fixes” your broken transmission will also “fix” a flat tyre and a broken headlight.

    Grace continues:

    And we really need to define what ‘cure’ actually means.

    Apparently, some of the “alternative” practitioners define “cure” as “dying of your cancer only after I empty your bank account.” However, I think that most people with cancer would define “cure” as living the remainder of their life without a recurrence or progression of their cancer. Oncologists probably refine that definition according to the type of cancer – whether it is five, ten or twenty years without recurrence that counts as a “cure”.

    Redefining “cure” to mean “taking a bunch of herbs and supplements while the cancer follows its natural course” may result in more “cures” but will not improve cancer mortality.

    And the woo goes on:

    The medical model, as much as doctors want to save their patients, operates from a place of disease NOT health. Its aim with regards to cancer is to drug, burn, cut, poison, and radiate.

    Ah, the “drug, burn, cut, poison and radiate” canard. Here’s a little reality check – people diagnosed with cancer are, technically, “operating from a place of disease, not health”, unless you have “redefined” cancer as an “alternative” form of “health”. Once you have cancer, the options are to either “drug, burn, cut, poison and radiate” (irradiate would be the proper term) or to allow the cancer to follow its natural course.

    One final comment by Grace:

    How come no one ever talks about prevention only early detection?

    Clearly, Grace hasn’t been listening very closely. Remember all those compounds listed as “potentially carcinogenic”? That’s a warning to avoid those compounds in order to prevent cancer.

    And all those studies into the causes of cancer (lifestyle, exposures, genetic, etc.)? They are also an attempt to identify things that people can do (or not do) in order to prevent cancer. I could go on, but there is a limit to how much I can put in a comment.

    The “bottom line” is that there is a lot of research into cancer prevention and real doctors advise their patients on the steps they can take to prevent cancer (cancer prevention tip for the season – avoid sun exposure and use sun screen). If Grace hasn’t heard them, it’s because she hasn’t been listening.

    Prometheus

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