Here we go again.

Because he’s been in the news lately, I’ve been writing a lot about the “brave maverick doctor” known as Stanislaw Burzynski who claims to have spectacular results treating normally incurable cancers using something he calls antineoplastons. Unfortunately, the reason Burzynski has featured prominently in the skeptical blogosphere over the last two weeks is because, unfortunately, the Texas Medical Board (TMB) dropped its case against him. Basically, Burzynski got off on a technicality.

For purposes of this post, I don’t want to dwell on this case, because I’ve already pretty much beat it into the ground. I don’t even want to visit any patients of Burzynski who trusted him but are dying or have died anyway. Sadly, we’ve met several of them over the last year, most recently Amelia Saunders. Rather, what I want to concentrate on is the perception of Burzynski by his followers versus the reality, and the way I want to get at that issue by going straight to the source. It just so happens that not too long ago, an alternative medicine rag published an interview with Burzynski, which Burzynski has posted on his very own website. (Hat tip to the reader who pointed this interview out.) The usual self-serving blather is there, of course, but it’s the contrast between the picture of Burzynski as a misunderstood scientific and medical genius on par with Pasteur that his followers like to promote. And, of course, this genius is “persecuted” by the dogmatic medical establishment, who only wants to “cut, poison, and burn.” Burzynski himself promotes both memes, but particularly the paranoia:

Do you think that understanding in the medical community about your research is improving with time or evolving? Dr Burzynski: Absolutely. Some of the brightest oncologists are working together with us. We have a group of about 100 top oncologists. We are treating patients together with oncologists from all over the world. We are talking about the brightest guys. The rest of the club does not understand what we do at all and hate us. They would like to get rid of us. They hate to see our good results. But this crowd also will change if the breakthrough comes. So at this moment, we have to convert oncologists one by one. Of course, I am giving lectures at the oncology congresses, but only a few of these doctors will pay attention to what I have to say because I am not from a big medical institution. They don’t believe something can come from a small clinic, a small research center. They all assume research must come from a big pharmaceutical company or big institutions. Unfortunately, not much good came from these institutions within the last decade. But a number of doctors are beginning to understand what we do, and the number of those who would like to be trained in our strategy is increasing all the time. We have oncologists coming to us from various countries almost all the time to learn how to use our approach.

This is about as unbelievable a paragraph as I’ve ever seen. In reality, oncologists shun Burzynski—and rightly so, given that he has yet to publish anything resembling a convincing result suggesting the efficacy of his antineoplastons against cancer. That’s not to say he doesn’t publish (although he hasn’t published anything in a PubMed-indexed journal before 2006, not counting this interview, which is in a journal that should not be PubMed-indexed and isn’t even an original research paper anyway). It’s painfully obvious from this paragraph that Burzynski doesn’t know academic oncologists. None of them whom I’ve ever met assume that nothing useful can come out of a small clinic or research institute. That’s just rank stupidity if Burzynski really thinks that. The reason oncologists don’t respect Burzynski is because of how he hasn’t show that his treatments work better than conventional treatments—or even that they work at all—and because of the way he abuses patients by charging them huge sums of money to participate in a clinical trial. Those are the reasons legitimate oncologists, at least those familiar with Burzynski, look askance at him. How could they do otherwise? The ones who don’t take him seriously are the ones who know him best.

Indeed, one could argue that that’s why the FDA and the NCI couldn’t work with him. They didn’t know him when they agreed to work with him in the 1990s, but as they worked with him over the course of a few years they learned his true nature, leading to an inevitable schism, which taught the NCI a lesson about the consequences of dealing with pseudoscientists. Now here’s where we see the sheer arrogance, the sheer ignorance of theman:

Dr Burzynski: I published the review article in a peer-reviewed journal almost 20 years ago on the principles of personalized gene-targeted therapy. But it was not understood yet at that time that cancer is a disease of the genes. The cancers have names like breast cancer or lung cancer but what is really causing cancer is abnormality in our genes. Now everybody knows about it, but 20 years ago, very few people realized it. The right way to treat cancer is to treat the genes that are causing the cancer. Do not treat just the name of cancer. Every case is somewhat different; that’s why we need to have a personalized approach. We need to identify changes in the genes and treat the genes which are “sick.” If we are successful, then we can have very good results. It’s not so difficult to understand.

When antibiotics were introduced for the first time, they were used for the treatment of infections such as pneumonia or kidney infections or whatever. But after a number of years, the doctors realized that what they need to do is treat microorganisms which are causing the infection rather than the name of infection. Do not treat just pneumonia by the same antibiotics, but identify the germs which cause pneumonia and treat the germs. And then we can have success.

Now the same principles are being applied to the treatment of cancer. We identify the genes which are causing the problem and treat the genes. It may happen that the same genes may cause breast cancer or stomach cancer, and then we would use the same medication for one patient’s breast cancer as well as another’s stomach cancer. Certainly, 20 years ago, this was heresy. And frankly speaking, very, very few medications could work on genes at that time.

I had to choke back a rising bile in the back of my throat as I read this. I mean, seriously, such a combination of arrogance (Burzynski apparently thinking that he really was the first person to think of the idea of personalized therapy and targeting genes for cancer) and ignorance of the entire field of cancer genetics and genomics is breathtaking! Let’s put it this way. I was in graduate school 20 years ago, and was taught back then that cancer was primarily a genetic disease.. There’s a term called “oncogene,” which describes genes that, when either mutated or too much is made, can result in cancer. When do you think this term was first coined? Robert Huebner and George Todaro first coined it in 1969, and the first oncogene, src, was described in 1970, twenty years before Burzynski claims to have understood that cancer is a genetic disease. Has Burzynski ever heard of the term “tumor suppressor gene”? Tumor suppressors are genes that normally put the break on cell growth or other phenotypic changes necessary for cancer. When tumor suppressor function is lacking, cells can become cancerous. The first tumor suppressor gene, the retinoblastoma gene, was characterized in 1986, at least six years before Burzynski’s apparent “revelation” that cancer is a “genetic disease.” As usual, science was way ahead of Burzynski. In fact, the genetic basis of cancer was suspected at least as far back as 1902, when German zoologist Theodor Boveri proposed the existence of cell cycle check points, tumour suppressor genes and oncogenes. Boveri even speculated that cancers might be caused or promoted by radiation, physical or chemical insults or by pathogenic microorganisms! That’s 90—count ’em—90 years before the time when Burzynski claims that it was “not understood yet at that time that cancer is a disease of the genes.”

Curious as to just what the heck Burzynski was talking about here, I searched PubMed for this alleged review article. I couldn’t find it on PubMed. His only publications from the 1990s had nothing to do with cancer as a “genetic disease” or “personalized gene-targeted cancer therapy” and everything to do with antineoplastons. Perhaps Burzynski proposed this “revolutionary” new idea in a peer-reviewed article that’s not indexed in PubMed, but if he did I couldn’t find it using Google and Google Scholar. (In fact when I entered “Burznski” and “personalized gene therapy” into Google Scholar, I got the article containing the transcript of Burzynski’s interview that I’m discussing at the top of the hit list!) The earliest publication by Burzynski that I could find that dealt with genetics at all was one from 2003 entitled, Aging: gene silencing or gene activation?, published in 2003 in—surprise! surprise!—that rag of a vanity journal, Medical Hypotheses.

I will give Burzynski credit for inadvertently making an analogy that has a grain of truth, but even in making that analogy he mangles history. Yes, antibiotics were used to treat specific infections, but that was because it was known which bugs antibiotics killed and which bugs tended to cause which infections. So back in the early days of antibiotics, treatment tended to be more empiric because it wasn’t always possible to culture the causative microorganisms. That doesn’t mean that antibiotics were being used to treat “pnemonia” or “kidney infections” without little respect to the causative organisms. After all antibiotics are defined as antibiotics on the basis of their ability to kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms! One could draw an analogy in that we now target various genetic abnormalities in cancer much more precisely than ever, in sort of the same way that antibiotics today can be much more specifically targeted to specific organisms causing specific infections than we used to do. It is also true that our considerations of subtypes of cancer are, thanks to the genomics revolution, becoming less organ-specific (i.e., based on what organ the cancer originates in) and more gene signature-specific, but it’s a slow process, and the empirical knowledge of how to treat different cancers from different organs is still very useful. We haven’t yet developed an organ-independent classification of cancers that is clinically useful, although it is possible that we might succeed in doing so in the next ten or twenty years. If we do, you can be certain that Stanislaw Burzynski will have had nothing to do with it and nothing to do to developing real “personalized gene-targeted cancer therapy.”

I could go on and on, picking apart virtually every paragraph of this interview. They’re all chock full of howlers like the passage above. But it’s getting late, and even Orac needs down time; so I’ll look at one last howler. Maybe I’ll come back to this article sometime when I’m bored. In the meantime, consider this statement by Burzynski:

The first medication which worked on genes was Herceptin for the treatment of breast cancer. Even today, oncologists will attack you if you try to use Herceptin for something else. But suddenly a year ago, Herceptin was approved for the treatment of stomach cancer. If the patient has abnormality of the gene on which Herceptin works, it can work very well. The crowd of oncologists learns the medicine by heart without understanding of what’s going on. However, they have started to realize that there is a need to identify what is causing cancer in every patient who is coming for treatment and to use the right combination of medications.

Unfortunately, we have a totalitarian approach toward treatment: Everybody should receive the same regimen for the same name of cancer. This is foolish. It contributes to billions of dollars in losses because typically the medications—single medications— work for less than 10% of patients. If you identify which patients will benefit from a particular medication, you can have good results and you can save a lot of money. But unfortunately, this approach still persists. I have been attacked by the Texas Medical Board for going overboard and using a logical, scientific approach toward treatment of the genes.

First off, Herceptin does not exactly “work on genes,” and no oncologist would characterize it as doing so. Herceptin is a humanized mouse monoclonal antibody that targets the HER2 protein, which is the product of the HER2 oncogene, which is overexpressed (i.e., too much of it is made) in some breast cancers. It’s been enormously successful in that HER2(+) breast cancer used to be considered a very bad actor. It still is a bad actor, but we have a targeted therapy that makes it less so. In any case, if Herceptin is a drug Burzynski defines as “targeting genes,” then he’s clearly wrong that it’s the first one. It was not. Arguably, Tamoxifen was. Tamoxifen, after all, specifically targeted a gene product (the estrogen receptor) in the same way that Herceptin targets HER2, and Tamoxifen has been around since the 1970s. Be that as it may, it is not “heresy” to use Herceptin to treat other forms of cancer besides breast. It is true that Herceptin was first used in breast cancer, but that is because HER2 is frequently overexpressed in breast cancer. As soon as it was discovered that HER2 was overexpressed in other cancers, oncologists and scientists proposed using it for those other cancers. We cancer researchers are very happy to apply new drugs to new cancers if we think they might be useful, but unlike Burzynski we insist on testing them in clinical trials first, to make sure they work.

As for Burzynski’s lament that we have a “totalitarian” approach towards treatment, all I can say is that it might seem that way to someone who has a “make it up as you go along” approach, like Burzynski. It’s just another example of cranks pulling out the “fascism” gambit when they are told by scientists they are cranks. For instance, the TMB didn’t go after Burzynski simply for off-label prescribing where there is a legitimate scientific argument. It went after Burzynski for mixing and matching targeted therapies willy-nilly in a reckless manner. Truly, it was personalized targeted gene therapy for dummies done by dummies.

In the end, it’s hard not to be shocked by the combination of self-absorption, arrogance, and downright scientific ignorance that the “hero” of “alternative” cancer therapy demonstrates. I suppose I shouldn’t be, but I am. And it takes a lot to shock me these days.

Comments

  1. #1 al kimeea
    www.quackademiology.com
    December 16, 2012

    as for the JREF Million, most of the applicants are all for it as they are worked with to establish a mutually agreeable protocol – just like the pros Emily Rosa showed were guessing, much like the financial market talking heads but I’m digressing – to announce their snowflakiness of Universal Uniqueness.

    Then the results come in of ordinary Joeability.

    Soon followed by the denouncements and recriminations Judith has regurgitated here.

    IIRC there was a media presence requirement instituted a few years back, but since recently rescinded?

  2. #2 Denice Walter
    December 16, 2012

    @ Narad:

    One of the most mind-shatteringly incomprehensibe features of woo-topia is the simultaneous over-valuing of both ancient traditions and paradigm-shifting modernity so it’s par for the course.

    I meant that they disparage SBM based on options that were available a century ago and neglect the updates. However, they DO speak in hushed tones about the Wisdom of the Past (woo) AND of being “ahead of the curve”**( while SB advances are deemed “soul-less’) soon to overtake SBM whilst riding the tsunami of futurity. The once and future woo?

    -btw- I think that Judith just doesn’t get you- as well as your point.

    ** I hate that idiom

  3. #3 al kimeea
    December 16, 2012

    they do seem stuck in some futuristic past

  4. #4 al kimeea
    December 16, 2012

    a friend has this idea of universal wisdom with Jeebus being a very broad metaphor revealed to all differently

  5. #5 LW
    December 16, 2012

    @al kimeea: “IIRC there was a media presence requirement instituted a few years back, but since recently rescinded?”

    There are several ways of qualifying, just one of which is to be featured in an off-line publication.

  6. #6 Narad
    December 16, 2012

    I’m off now to look into the Canadian health fraud reporting venues.

    The Competition Bureau is a good first stop.

  7. #7 thenewme
    December 16, 2012

    Well, Canada’s Competition Bureau Health Fraud website seems to be a good place to start:

    http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/h_01962.html (sorry, don’t know how to link).

    I’m sick of reading Judith’s fraudulent blathering, so I’m officially on a mission to take action. I see that her “business” is in Toronto, but also in the US and Great Britain, so it looks like I’ll be busy for a while.

    As a cancer patient, there’s no “business” more deserving of scorn and legal/financial repercussions than one advertising the following:

    “Treating cancer with Energy Healing (including the Bengston Method and the Domancic Method)…A resource on the use of bioenergy healing to treat cancer, with commentary on working with the Bengston Bioenergy Healing Method, the Domancic Method, Matrix Energetics, Quantum Touch, and Reiki.”

    If anyone has other resources or links to report this kind of health fraud, I’d love to see them!

  8. #8 thenewme
    December 16, 2012

    @Narad – got it! Thanks – that’s one down. Hopefully some others will join me in taking action. I don’t have high hopes that my complaints will even be noticed, but it sure beats sitting here reading her nonsense and becoming more enraged by the minute. Cancer fraud is such a personal affront to me.

  9. #9 Narad
    December 16, 2012

    -btw- I think that Judith just doesn’t get you- as well as your point.

    Indeed. If this is combined with al kimeea’s observation about whose ego is actually the stoppage in the psychological toilet, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that Judith is unable (viz., too egotistical) to have comtemplated or to presently contemplate the possibility that her own mystical “tradition” fancies might be immediately recognizable as being common as dirt to someone who has not been Initiated into the Wisdom.

  10. #11 flip
    I can't believe it's not Marg
    December 16, 2012

    @Judith

    Then one could get into a discussion about how to make it better. Now the discussion is “does it or does it not exist”, which from my perspective is a giant waste of time

    Yes, yes postmodernism. We’ve covered this crap already. A billion times.

    If science would acknowledge its existence and put the same amount of effort into improving it as it now does into creating chemotherapy drugs that extend life, you can be pretty certain that in a few years energy healing will dependably cure cancer.

    And yet no proponent, including yourself, can be assed doing the research. Science *does* improve treatments over time, you just continue to ignore anything that doesn’t fit your worldview. (Wait, did I say that exact same thing to Marg?)

    I really don’t give a fig about Emily Rosa or the not-so-amazing Randi. If you choose feel it, you will. If you just choose to blather on about it being bullshit, go right ahead and live happily with that.

    I LITERALLY just stated that I believed qigong would work for me. And it didn’t. How do you explain that? (Oh yeah, you don’t read my comments do you? You just skip over them, like so many inconvenient facts)

    So why people heal or don’t heal is mystery. Is anyone studying it? It would have to be a large scale multi-disciplinary effort., and I am not so sure how well all the scientists, sociologists, psychologists and philosophers needed would work together.

    Funny how you never think *you* should be included as one of the parties who should do research. I suppose “healers” are somehow exempt from this?

    So on to energy healing. I don’t know how much of it is placebo.

    EXACTLY. You *don’t know*, therefore you should be doing studies and trials and whatnot to remove this variable from the possibilities. (F*ck you are thick, we’ve covered this stuff already but it never sinks in)

    They see me again, the pain goes away, yadi yadi yada, and the upshot is that by the time they see their doctor again, they don’t need the operation.

    And naturally you have proof of this case? Nah, didn’t think so.

    The scientific community has their nose so stuck in beakers that they cannot see the mystery of healing.

    Oh for – how many times does it have to be explained? If you can’t tell whether it’s placebo, hand waving, pain killers or surgery, then you have NO way of knowing that it was the hand waving that did the job. This is WHY you have noses in beakers, to remove all the variables until there is ONE explanation left.

    If it were up to you, everyone would take every option available, no matter how many ‘treatments’ conflicted with one another, because hey, why bother studying which one worked?

    What a maroon!

    We call it magic and occultism now because we don’t understand the phenomenon. Just how long do you think it would have taken for you to burned as a witch if you turned up in the middle ages with some of today’s technology?

    Your god of the gaps for medicine argument is quite funny. “Science doesn’t know therefore magic” seems to be what you’re advocating. Except you still have to prove reiki works first. If no phenomenom is detected, there’s no need for discovering its mechanism.

    Yet another tour of distractions away from the fact that MARG nor JUDITH, the contemptible purse-snatchers of science, HAVE ANY EVIDENCE THAT ENERGY HEALING WORKS. Plus, Judith made threats of libel/harassment which are hollow, vague and disingenuous; an attempt to chill speech and scare critics.

  11. #12 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    December 16, 2012

    This study explains a mystery we have come up against while treating people with terminal cancer. We have found that bioenergy treatments could significantly improve quality of life in these patients, and yet patients who were clearly receiving benefits from bioenergy treatments would then allow themselves to be talked into palliative chemotherapy by family members who had a magical belief that chemotherapy would cure them. They would stop bioenergy treatments in favour of chemotherapy and the cancer would then take its regular course. Only in retrospect and in comparison to the effects of chemo would these family members recognize the value of bioenergy treatments.

    This nauseating entry presented to you from Judith’s blog. Hey Judith, perhaps you would like to justify your use of the word “significant” as that has a specific connotation when comparing treatments. While you are at it, what measurements did you use for “clearly receiving benefits”.

  12. #13 flip
    First comment in moderation... darn.
    December 16, 2012

    @Science Mom

    Of course, blame the recipient; it relieves the “practitioner” of failing to provide an effective treatment. Try this on Judith; if one has a bacterial infection and is administered antibiotics but the patient does not think they will or even want them to work, how does this interfere with the efficacy of the antibiotics? If Reiki works, then the recipients mindset should not interfere. Why can’t Reiki overcome resistance?

    Continuing on from this, how does the invisible energy fields become influenced by the human mind and its intentions? Do we all have a centre in the brain that has some sort of energy field control switch?

    @thenewme

    For the US, you might want to try the Better Business Bureau; and for the UK, since she’s going on about treating cancer, why not look into the Cancer Act stuff?

  13. #14 Narad
    December 16, 2012

    Hopefully some others will join me in taking action.

    I have previously refrained by virtue of not being Canadian. Under the Competition Act, you might care to examine sections 74.02 and 74.03. As noted a few days ago, section 27 of the Health Practices Act could also be in play, with the only meaningful defense being that there is not actually any electromagnetic radiation being delivered and that there is in fact no effect on any tissue below the dermis.

  14. #15 Narad
    December 16, 2012

    ^ Sorry, section 27 of the Regulated Health Professions Act.

  15. #16 S
    December 16, 2012

    She is treating animals. The board that oversees the practice of veterinary medicine might be interested in an unlicensed ‘practitioner’.

    As far as fraudulent claims, deceptive advertising and medical fraud occurring specifically on the Internet, the Federal Trade Commission may be intrigued, or perhaps the IC3.

    Freakin H3LL Judith, Thanks (maybe) to Narad, I just found your blog. Your little testimonial video is revolting. You are luring people with MS and misleading them as treating their tremors,… Unreal. How DARE YOU!!

  16. #17 Krebiozen
    December 16, 2012

    Only in retrospect and in comparison to the effects of chemo would these family members recognize the value of bioenergy treatments.

    It is understandable that family members losing a loved one would wish they could have done something more effective. It’s just cruel to pretend that if only their loved one had only continued with “bioenergy treatments” they would still be alive.

  17. #18 Shay
    December 16, 2012

    Judith is treating animals? Oh, that’s just peachy.

    Fraud perpetrated against humans over the age of consent is despicable but at least the human is agreeing to the fraud. This kind of thing done to a suffering animal makes me hope both she and the owners get bitten or clawed, hard and often, by her patients.

  18. #19 Narad
    December 16, 2012

    Seen this?

    Ah, yeah, I remembered that Judith has plied a trade as a comma jockey. The “academic” part is a new one on me, and I say that as someone in the lousy racket of journals editing and a coauthor (well, that’s what the contract said) on that big style thingamawajum back when it was still orange on both sides.

  19. #20 MarkL
    December 16, 2012

    @Judith

    from your blog:

    The purpose of this blog …
    is primarily to provide a resource on the use of bioenergy healing in the treatment of cancer.

    Unless your blog states that bioenergy has NO use in the treatment of cancer, you are a liar and a fraud.

  20. #21 S
    December 16, 2012

    Typewriter, Narad?

  21. #22 thenewme
    December 16, 2012

    @Narad,
    I’m not Canadian either, but I filed a complaint anyway! I didn’t see anything on the form that said you had to be in Canada, and it simply says, “Please use this form to notify the Competition Bureau if you believe that a company or individual has contravened the Competition Act, the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, the Textile Labelling Act, or the Precious Metals Marking Act.”

    This part (also from the Competition Bureau) is also interesting in light of this thread: “The Act prohibits false or misleading representations made to the public. Under the law, it is not necessary to demonstrate that any member of the public to whom the representation was made was within Canada or that the representation was made in a place to which the public had access. This publication focuses primarily on the application of the Act to commercial Web sites and marketing strategies using e-mail. In light of the foregoing, however, depending on the circumstances, communications within chat rooms, news groups or message boards on the Internet could run afoul of the Act.

  22. #23 thenewme
    December 16, 2012

    @Narad, thanks for the specific sections of the Competition Act! Seems very applicable in this case. Would you agree?

    “Section 74.02 of the Competition Act is a civil provision. It prohibits the unauthorized use of tests and testimonials, or the distortion of authorized tests and testimonials. The provision also prohibits a person from permitting such representations to be made to the public. Under this provision, it is not necessary to demonstrate that any person was deceived or misled; that any member of the public to whom the representation was made was within Canada; or that the representation was made in a place to which the public had access. Subsection 74.03(5) directs that the general impression conveyed by a representation, as well as its literal meaning, be taken into account when determining whether or not the representation is false or misleading in a material respect.

    If a court determines that a person has engaged in conduct contrary to section 74.02, it may order the person not to engage in such conduct, to publish a corrective notice and/or to pay an administrative monetary penalty of up to $750,000 in the case of a first time occurrence by an individual and $10,000,000 in the case of a first time occurrence by a corporation. For subsequent orders, the penalties increase to a maximum of $1,000,000 in the case of an individual and $15,000,000 in the case of a corporation.”

  23. #24 Narad
    December 16, 2012

    In the let’s-try-some-self-branding department, one unsurprisingly finds that Judith is really impressed by near-death experience reportage, which I suppose makes it less worrying if she loses a few here and there.

    “[The fraud] is therefore compelled to preserve ‘objective’ reality, and can only ‘save his soul’ by imagining himself being pulled out of shape somehow, or the memorories transferred from one box to another, as it were, within the machine. All he actually saves are vague images of moving, labelled blobs.”

  24. #25 Alain
    December 16, 2012

    @ S

    sorry for the late answer regarding your comment below:

    @Alain, I read your blog. If your treating physician did indeed promise you a career in research at the hospital where he worked, then I would think he may be stepping outside of his ethical boundaries by getting too involved in the personal lives of his patients. If he is supposed to be treating and overseeing your care, and he has only seen you once in a years time then this also raises some questions. I am sorry you have been bullied and treated so poorly, and wish you a better new year.

    I will post a new blog post answering your concern during the week (couldn’t be while in Montreal).

    Alain

  25. #26 Narad
    December 16, 2012

    @S

    Seems very applicable in this case. Would you agree?

    I think the testimonials angle is weak, although as I remarked on December 11, Judith’s may not have been adequately sanitized from assertions of causality.

  26. #27 LW
    December 16, 2012

    I made the mistake of looking at Judith’s vile website and then walking down the hall where all the family pictures are hung. So many of my family suffered and died of cancer, and their faces look out at me as I walk by. Judith and Burzynski and their ilk are very lucky that I *don’t* believe that they have a cure for cancer but haven’t done the work to make it available because They. Just. Can’t. Be. Bothered.

  27. #28 thenewme
    December 16, 2012

    @Narad,
    Even without assertions of causality in the testimonials, it seems to me that the entire premise of the blog, from the title down, is misleading.

    “…Furthermore, the representation or testimonial made or published by the person must accord with the representation or testimonial the third party has previously made, published or approved. An example of this would be where a quote is taken out of context, such as where a reputable lab’s report of a product test is published and it expresses favourable comments or results on certain points, but these comments or results are heavily qualified. If the representation presents the favourable comments or results without the important qualifications, the representation may be in contravention of this provision.”

    It seems to me that practically everything in Judith’s blog is in direct contravention of multiple sections of the Competition Act!

    74.02 “An example of this would be where a quote is taken out of context, such as where a reputable lab’s report of a product test is published and it expresses favourable comments or results on certain points, but these comments or results are heavily qualified. If the representation presents the favourable comments or results without the important qualifications, the representation may be in contravention of this provision.” Sounds exactly like Judith’s attribution of patient improvement exclusively to reiki, despite having real medical treatment as well, or a self-limiting problem.

    74.03(5) – The general impression throughout her blog is that her energy healing can effectively treat cancer. The literal meaning of so many of her presentations are direct claims that reiki is efficacious.

    74.01(1)(b) – “Performance claims that raise a question under the Act fall into two broad categories: those that are inappropriate in relation to the actual test results and those that are based on poorly designed test methodologies.” Judith’s representations fail both those tests. Sorry for the big copy/paste, but it looks like the Competition Act requires evidence just as we’ve been asking Judith all along!
    ——————From http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/00520.html ———————-
    1. Inappropriate Claims

    If the performance claim is broad, the existence of adequate and proper test relevant to only one portion of the claim or under only one condition of use is insufficient. For example, where a national representation of energy savings relates to the tested performance of a heat pump, and it is shown that the test was conducted under the climatic conditions of Southern Ontario, the results should not be generalized to all areas of the country.

    Results must not only be significant but must be meaningful. For example, a representation that an air conditioner is quieter than another brand, where the difference cannot be detected by the human ear, should not be used.

    Consumer panel testing of product characteristics that are perceptible only to the senses can sometimes establish relative superiority, but cannot usually quantify the extent of the superiority. Consequently, such testing, if proper, could substantiate claims such as “feels softer” or “tastes better,” but not a claim such as “three times more softness.”
    2. Test Methodology

    The test should indicate that the result claimed is not a mere chance or one-time effect.

    Non-repetition of test — it is axiomatic that the reliability of the data resulting from a test is conditional upon the achievement of similar results from a repetition of the test.

    User-tests — When consumers are asked to use and evaluate a product, various “test effects” can influence their behaviour. For example, a user testing a gas-saving device may modify his or her driving habits to a degree sufficient to affect the observed results. Furthermore, since such tests are not conducted under “ideal controlled test conditions,” other factors such as climate and location would also have an effect. Unless such weaknesses are controlled, user tests would not be adequate and proper. At minimum, control groups are necessary in such situations.

    Unrepresentative samples may produce biased test results. If, for example, subjects selected for the test were already known users of the product (and therefore potentially biased in its favour), the use of such results, unless expressly qualified in the representation, would likely contravene this provision.

    Most court actions under the former paragraph 52(1)(b) have related to representations made where no tests had been undertaken or where user tests (notably of gas-saving devices) have not been found adequate to substantiate the claims.

    Example:

    “20% to 40% better gas mileage,” where there is no adequate and proper test upon which the statement is based.”

  28. #29 Narad
    December 16, 2012

    Even without assertions of causality in the testimonials, it seems to me that the entire premise of the blog, from the title down, is misleading.

    I’m not trying to discourage you in any way as far as submitting an enquiry to the Competition Board goes. There’s no particular need to complicate things; the basic case is simply that to the extent that Judith makes a representation of performance, it has not met the standard of adequate and proper testing.

    And the criminal penalties are live when targeting vulnerable populations, etc. The point of any such enterprise (and I never would have bothered had Judith not conjured bumptiousness about libel, so, FISKER KARMA!) is just to point in the correct general direction. Grabbing snapshots of all the associated Web sites doesn’t hurt, either.

  29. #30 thenewme
    December 16, 2012

    In the US, you can file a complaint regarding a US company with the FTC here:
    https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/FTC_Wizard.aspx?Lang=en

    Or file a complaint against an entity in another country here:
    http://www.econsumer.gov/english/

  30. #31 Pareidolius
    Playing cards with Green Tara
    December 16, 2012

    Hmmmm. Did someone find a can of Reiki-b-Gon™ and spray it liberally about RI HQ? How sad. I know Narad was so looking forward to a hard-ass Reiki name calling throwdown . . . Your tulku so stupid, when he saw “Under 17 Not Admitted” at the movie theater, he ran back to the monastery and brought 16 monks with him.

  31. #32 THS
    ?
    December 16, 2012

    Oh, a typo? I reckon that’s the best you can do.

  32. #33 thenewme
    December 16, 2012

    Narad,
    Got it. Thanks! I’m just looking into a Chrome plugin called FishBarrel, a tool for reporting online quackery which also includes taking screen shots! I may have to reconsider using Chrome just for this app.

  33. #34 Pareidolius
    Tara ra boom de ay
    December 16, 2012

    No, really, your Tulku so stupid, he looked at the frozen orange juice can for 2 hours because it said “concentrate.”

  34. #35 Pareidolius
    December 16, 2012

    Come on kids, we gotta make 1000 with this thing. Work with me here . . .

  35. #36 THS
    (just got back)
    December 16, 2012

    This, really? Surely it’s self-parody?

    “Treating cancer with Energy Healing (including the Bengston Method and the Domancic Method)…A resource on the use of bioenergy healing to treat cancer, with commentary on working with the Bengston Bioenergy Healing Method, the Domancic Method, Matrix Energetics, Quantum Touch, and Reiki.”

    Is it true that Judith charges money for this? Despicable.

  36. #37 thenewme
    December 16, 2012

    @THS,
    Sadly, it’s not parody. It’s the name/subtitle of her Reiki business blog. I don’t know whether she charges money for it or just “accepts donations,” but it’s despicable in either case. I don’t know how she can face herself in the mirror, really.

  37. #38 LW
    December 16, 2012

    I had noticed previously that Judith seemed to be distancing herself from Bengston. She would say “Bengston says he can do this” when questioned about what Bengston can do. That seemed sort of honest to me. But if she claims to use his method herself, that’s just more of her being disingenuous.

  38. #39 Narad
    December 16, 2012

    Come on kids, we gotta make 1000 with this thing. Work with me here . . .

    I suppose there’s probably a “Domancic and Chong” angle to be had.

  39. #40 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    December 16, 2012

    Come on kids, we gotta make 1000 with this thing. Work with me here . . .

    With 161 (at this post) to go and thenewme probably sending Judith off to hit her internetz droppings with a hefty scouring of OopsieCleen™, I’m not confident that we can hit that mark*.

    *Unless of course the conversation drifts towards the nearly inevitable recipe swap.

  40. #41 Shay
    December 16, 2012

    We didn’t quite make it with the last Marg/Judith thread, did we? Because if we did, I have to knit Orac a pony.

  41. #42 MarkL
    London
    December 16, 2012

    Recipe swap?

    Great idea. Perhaps in these times of widespread fuel poverty, Judith can teach us to cook using Bioenergy.

  42. #43 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    December 16, 2012

    Great idea. Perhaps in these times of widespread fuel poverty, Judith can teach us to cook using Bioenergy.

    Great Idea!
    In the meantime until we can get that sorted out, I did find this
    Reiki slaw recipe
    that reduces back pain.

  43. #44 Alain
    December 16, 2012

    Don’t count on me for recipes exchanges, I’m no cook since a few years.

    Alain

  44. #45 Militant Agnostic
    In a house where we obey the laws of thermodynamics.
    December 16, 2012

    Great idea. Perhaps in these times of widespread fuel poverty, Judith can teach us to cook using Bioenergy.

    Why think small – we should go straight raising steam for electricity generation – Bengston’s cloud busting exploits are equivalent to burning on the order of 100 tonnes of anthracite coal per cloud busted and he could do this repeatedly. This would go a long way to eliminating AGW if Judith would teach us how.

  45. #46 Narad
    December 16, 2012

    In the meantime until we can get that sorted out, I did find this Reiki slaw recipe that reduces back pain.

    The notion that cabbage is a sattvic food strikes me as sorely misguided. Naturally, the accursed sunchoke is a hanger-on in this sort of construction.

  46. #47 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    December 17, 2012

    Don’t count on me for recipes exchanges, I’m no cook since a few years.

    Don’t sell yourself short; you’ve got it going on with beer-making and you’ve had Reiki sex for crying out loud.

    @ Narad, I just don’t know what to do with you sometimes.

  47. #48 Narad
    December 17, 2012

    “Pranic Cabbage” could be a passable name for an opening act, although one is always wise to remain close to Occidental water barbarisms when putting the shakti in the coconut, if you get my drift.

  48. #49 herr doktor bimler
    December 17, 2012

    Given sufficient time, any internet thread will eventually turn to an exchange of cabbage recipes.
    This is Cole’s Law.

  49. #50 herr doktor bimler
    December 17, 2012

    I did find this Reiki slaw recipe that reduces back pain.

    I expected the directions to specify “mix all ingredients together without physically touching them“.

  50. #51 Pareidolius
    That stuff's amazing . . .
    December 17, 2012

    Reiki-B-Gon™, Spray Away and Say Adieu to Woo!
    NEW Peppy Pine, Silky Salmon and Performance Claim Clematis scents now available in 3 oz. Pocket-MistRz™ and thrifty, solid PlugNzs for all day protection!

    Another swell product from Glaxxon!

    Warning: do not spray directly in the face of exotic, wise, and mysterious “eastern” people. May cause burns and stains, test on small patch for allergic reactions.

  51. #52 Narad
    December 17, 2012

    I expected the directions to specify “mix all ingredients together without physically touching them“.

    You’re never going to get the Green Goddess dressing together with that sort of approach.

    (And I’m no longer wondering why Judith dredged up Pamela Miles.)

  52. #53 Pareidolius
    December 17, 2012

    Cole’s Law. I wish you were my doctor.

  53. #54 Pareidolius
    December 17, 2012

    I hear Glaxxon’s E-Go-BoostRz™ lozenges are very popular in the Far East . . .

    あなたは、E·ゴー·BoostRzとジョン·ウェインのような巨大な西洋の自我を持っているでしょう!

  54. #55 thenewme
    December 17, 2012

    Awwww, c’mon, ScienceMom! I didn’t mean to kill the thread, but I can’t say I’m sorry to see her go.

    Maybe my new miraculous cancer-curing side dish recipe will mitigate the loss. It’s carefully gleaned from altie nuggets (!) posted on the breast cancer forum I visit.

    Marinate mushrooms in lemon juice, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, cottage cheese, and plenty of enema-strength coffee. Then dredge in baking soda and serve with broccoli (DIM!) and shredded cannabis. Sprinkle generously with curcumin and black pepper, and garnish with lots of apricot seeds. Enjoy!

  55. #56 Alain
    December 17, 2012

    Don’t sell yourself short; you’ve got it going on with beer-making and you’ve had Reiki sex for crying out loud.

    no comments for reiki-sex but for beer, I can share some recipes; actually, I’m gonna make some next tuesday.

    Alain

  56. #57 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    December 17, 2012

    Oreo please…

  57. #58 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    December 17, 2012

    Ginger snap this time….having laptop issues.

  58. #59 herr doktor bimler
    December 17, 2012

    I did find this Reiki slaw recipe that reduces back pain.

    There is a niche for brassica-based recipes that adhere to the neo-Platonic dietary principles of the Kabbalah. It remains to choose a name for the chef. I am not sure that “Kohl Rabbi” is a real title.

  59. #60 Chemmomo
    Science is Quantified
    December 17, 2012

    Judith
    As my profession is somewhat seasonal I’ve skipped over a bunch of comments while trying to catch up.

    You posted back on Dec 13

    I would say to him that it works for some people but not for others and that you never know whether it works for you until you try it. If he agreed I would wave at him for a few minutes and then ask him how he felt.

    If he felt better, say he said that the pain was a 7 before and is now a 4, I would wave at him a while longer, until he said 0, or 1 or 2. Then I would say cheerio to him, and suggest that if he found that the treatment was useful, and he wanted to do more, he could contact me.

    Have you kept track of the numbers to whom you said “cheerio”?
    Have you counted your failures while you’ve compiled your successful anecdotes? Because if you haven’t, your anecdotes are meaningless.

    One more thing, Judith: have you learned anything from interacting with the folks comment here? This is a serious question – really do want to know. Back in June and July, I thought you were worth the trouble to educate about how scientific method works. Now, it seems, you’ve dug in your heels, and I’m not sure. Can you demonstrate otherwise?

  60. #61 Chemmomo
    Land Without Preview
    December 17, 2012

    ^folks commenting
    ^I really do want to know.

  61. #62 al kimeea
    www.quackademiology.com
    December 17, 2012

    Chemmomo

    Judith and her cohorts are not only quite ignorant of science, they see no need to practice it, just prattle on aboot it to lend authenticity to their snake oil.

    Witness Judith’s website. After the bold claims of curing cancer and de rigueure Quack Miranda, it dives right into the quantum pool and emerges – quelle surprise – as beyond mere mortal medicine. Two levels beyond in factfantasy.

    Scientific method? Phhht, we’re beyond that. Trust me.

    Add a soupcon of science being just another opinion like best band, book or meal and a very large dollop of Narcisse, et voila – a snowflake.

    Reiki isn’t a humble search for knowledge that can heal, it’s a hand waving cult for self perceived masters of the universe who’ve never learned how to take any kind of criticism, much less constructive, and for whom introspection is an alien word.

    I’m likin the band names.

  62. #63 al kimeea
    www.quackademiology.com
    December 17, 2012

    if we’re lucky, we’ll be treated to a “I’m rubber, you’re glue…” comment

    Judith, at what scale do quantum events take place?

  63. #64 S
    December 17, 2012

    Given sufficient time, any internet thread will eventually turn to an exchange of cabbage recipes.
    This is Cole’s Law.</blockquote<

    Humor is good medicine. Reiki Rehab has come to RI.

  64. #65 S
    December 17, 2012

    ^I should have used the preview and drank more coffee before commenting.

  65. #66 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    December 17, 2012

    This is Cole’s Law.

    I love this place.

  66. #67 Denice Walter
    December 17, 2012

    @ Alain:

    But of course you can cook- you’re FRENCH!
    well, at any rate, you’ve got a French name..
    oh… so do I…cancel that theory out.
    No wait, mine is Franglais therefore I can’t cook.

  67. #68 Shay
    December 17, 2012

    “Kohl Rabbi.”

    Just when I think the good doctor’s puns can’t get any worse….!

    (I have coffee on my keyboard now, Doc. You owe me).

  68. #69 Denice Walter
    December 17, 2012

    @ al kimeea:

    While alties may be “ignorant about science”, they are rather good at understanding human nature and how advertising persuasion works. Reading over woo-ful websites, you’ll notice that even when it isn’t about selling a product, it’s about SELLING A PRODUCT,e.g.
    both Natural News and PRN waste a lot of electrons** telling you about politics, the economy or other disasters and you might think that they’re therefore NOT selling you a product other than perhaps a film or book,
    BUT you would be WRONG because they are selling themselves or their persona as a wise, truth telling,educator who is watching out for you and telling you about the catastrophes lurking just around the corner so you can be PREPARED. And buy their supplements.

    They are on YOUR side unlike the dastardly, greedy forces of the elite like SBM, the government and the media. They are good, down-to-earth folks JUST like you..
    who just happen to live in mansions in park-like settings with lily ponds, personal zoos and monogrammed wrought iron gates.

    ( -btw- someone should collect photos chez Burzynski, Wakefield, Null, Mercola and Adams- they’re all there on the net )

    ** although everything they do is a waste of electrons

  69. #70 Militant Agnostic
    In a house where we obey the laws of thermodynamics.
    December 17, 2012

    Denice on her name

    No wait, mine is Franglais therefore I can’t cook.

    You are lucky you don’t have a Y chromosome or you would have been named “Denephew”.

  70. #71 S
    December 17, 2012

    @Alain, You don’t need to be able to cook well, you only need to believe you can. If you will it, it will be.

  71. #72 Denice Walter
    December 17, 2012

    @ Militant Agnostic:

    Believe it or not, I’ve heard that one before.

    I always throught that if I were a woo, I should call myself *Dionysia* ( actual translation)
    either that or *Laxmi*.

  72. #73 LW
    December 17, 2012

    MO’B’s brother has a daughter. I don’t actually know her name because MO’B always referred to her as Denice.

  73. #74 Bronze Dog
    December 17, 2012

    Took a break from RI for a while. It’s looking like Judith hasn’t learned any new tricks, unsurprisingly.

  74. #75 flip
    December 17, 2012

    “Cole’s Law” – ah, my sides are aching from the laughter!

    How come Judith hasn’t come back? Man, maybe I scared her off…

  75. #76 JGC
    December 17, 2012

    <blockquote.So on to energy healing. I don’t know how much of it is placebo.

    Don’t you think it’s important you do know this, before you begin insisting it can cure poison ivy, back injuries, cancer, etc., and lining up clients (paid or unpaid)?

    Those would be the testimonials your lot calls lies.

    We’re not calling them lies–we’re calling them testimonial, and noting that due to concerns re: personal bias, regression to the mean, etc. they represent something other than evidence.

    I think I have had tushie reiki, and must admit it did make me feel much better. If I recall correctly the practicioner called it a lap dance…

  76. #77 Calli Arcale
    December 17, 2012

    I very very very much like Cole’s Law, and will henceforth propagate the concept. 😉

  77. #78 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    December 17, 2012

    LW – some years ago when my brother’s daughter was in elementary school, I went to pick her up. She explained to her friend riding with us that I called her Deniece and exactly why I did so.

    I was so proud.

  78. #79 S
    December 17, 2012

    My favorites so far,

    Cole’s Law
    Feeling a bit itchy.
    Reiki Sex

  79. #80 Denice Walter
    December 17, 2012

    Thank you very much. So I suppose now I’ll have to change my ‘nym to the original “Walter Howard**” or “Howard Walter’ or whatever the fr!ck my last name actually is.
    Doesn’t *he* sound like fun!

    ** or suchlike

  80. #81 LW
    December 17, 2012

    If we want to hit 1000 comments, we should lure DJT over here. Just responding to its historical ignorance ought to be good for a few comments.

  81. #82 JGC
    December 17, 2012

    Function improves with my people.

    What hard endpoints are you measuring to evalute function?

  82. #83 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    December 17, 2012

    Cole’s Law
    Feeling a bit itchy.
    Reiki Sex

    Yes and may I add to that:

    I think I have had tushie reiki, and must admit it did make me feel much better. If I recall correctly the practicioner called it a lap dance…
    And
    Purse-snatchers of science

  83. #84 Edith Prickly
    December 17, 2012

    @MSII

    Ginger snap this time….having laptop issues.

    Try these – they’re a Yule favourite chez Prickly: http://www.thestar.com/living/food/recipes/article/736564–scandinavian-ginger-citron-cookies

  84. #85 Denice Walter
    December 17, 2012

    @ LW:

    We can get to 1000 all by OURSELVES.
    e.g. I will ask readers if they think that energy healing ( * a la* reiki) is truly the worst woo or if that distinction is reserved for ANOTHER form of alt med? And why is that?

    I think that attributing all illnesses/ conditions ( as well as their cures) to diet is the worst woo. Because it negates what SB physiology has taught us and can harm everyone who suffers from ANY illness or condition.

  85. #86 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    December 17, 2012

    @Denice Walter,

    Any woo where you can accidentally poison yourself on your own supplements is pretty bad.

    The same goes for any that require inducing diarrhea and, possibly, vomiting for multiple days. Which reminds me, I need to schedule my colonoscopy.

  86. #87 Calli Arcale
    December 17, 2012

    It’s so difficult to rank the “badness” of woo. Energy healing is nebulous, and comes in so many forms. Do we count faith healing? How about acupuncture, which involves inserting needles into the body but which ostensibly redirects energy? Even dietary regimes are said to redirect energy at times. It truly is a pervasive thing. But in general, I don’t think it’s the worst woo. It can cause people to delay treatment, it can cause people to discard things that they depend upon, it can drive people into poverty, but it doesn’t usually kill them directly. And there is woo that does that.

    I tend to think of John Brinkley, the “goat gland doctor” as the sin qua non of woo. He got this idea into his head that impotence and possibly many other ailments could be treated by implanting goat testicles (and sometimes goat ovaries, or at least what he claimed was tissue from those organs) into patients. He was not a trained surgeon, and only technically a doctor, but he operated on people anyway. I suppose in way it was energy woo; it was said to restore people’s vitality. (Except, of course, for the ones who died of horrible infections; as you might guess, his infection control protocols sucked, even by the standards of the day. He was even known to perform surgery in kitchens.) Eventually he progressed into vitamin sales and dispensing medical “advice” over a talk radio program. His efforts to elude regulation drove considerable changes in the medical regulatory framework of the day — and even contributed to the formation of the FCC, and, ultimately, an international treaty (after his war reached the point of creating “border blaster” radio stations in Mexico that were so powerful you could sometimes pick them up in Canada).

    I guess, then, shady back-alley surgeons who are not qualified as such are my worst form of woo. Brinkley was decades ago; nowadays we seem to mostly hear about back-alley cosmetic surgeons, and the tragic results. Maybe that’s not exactly woo, like the gal who was injecting caulk into her “patient’s” backsides in hotel rooms, with predictably horrid results. But it’s horrible, that’s for sure.

  87. #88 LW
    December 17, 2012

    @Denice Walter:

    I don’t think Reiki is the worst woo. Since it doesn’t actually do anything, the only harm it can cause is discouraging medical treatment and then blaming the victim when s/he suffers or dies from lack of treatment, and all woo does that.

    I’m not sure what is the worst woo though. There are a number of very strong contenders.

  88. #89 Pareidolius
    And my vote goes to SBQ . . .
    December 17, 2012

    Denice, I have to vote for Scientist Based Quackery (SBQ) as the World’s Worst Woo. By that I mean Simoncini, Burzynski, Montanier, Duesberg and their ilk. These Formerly Science Based (FSB) woosters have the science-y cloak of Brave Maverick Doctor (BMD) in which to wrap themselves when their nonsense is challenged. I have seen them kill first-hand. They are, in my opinion, the World’s Worst Woo.

  89. #90 Shay
    December 17, 2012

    I would nominate any “therapy” for autism (or any other condition) that involves either enemas or chemical castration.

    I still can’t think about bleach enemas without wanting to find a big stick and start hitting those responsible.

    Keep going, people. I actually found a pattern for a Connemara pony in cashmere. Not that I’m going to use cashmere unless Lord Draconis coughs* up some of my Big Pharma money.

    (*I was going to use the phrase ponies up but I’m leaving the bad puns to the Doktor).

  90. #91 LW
    December 17, 2012

    @Shay: “I would nominate any “therapy” for autism (or any other condition) that involves either enemas or chemical castration.”

    Or chelation, or injecting unknown substances, supposedly stem cells, into the spine.

  91. #92 JGC
    December 17, 2012

    Worst woo? MMS for autism, in my opinion. Hard to get much worse than routinely forcing beach enemas on children who already suffer from sensory issues.

  92. #93 Denice Walter
    December 17, 2012

    One of the reasons I think that dietary woo is the worst is because the whimsy-based material DOES at some point shade off into reality-based information on diet ( both for cause/ cure) which will certainly allow the woo-meisters to utilise that respectability to fool more reasonable people as they confabulate, expand and jump to unwarranted conclusions: it is difficult to know where to draw the dividing line so it makes the entire topic slipperier and squirmier thus prime bait for woo.

    Obviously dietary woo engenders a set of intrinsically opportune categories like cancer woo, autism woo, SMI woo, anti-aging woo- ad nauseum AND nutrition encompasses supplement woo. They loves them those supplements.

  93. #94 MarkL
    London
    December 17, 2012

    Excuse the coarseness of my language,but…..

    Ranking woo by “badness” is akin to ranking which animal turds are the worst to step in.
    To continue the fecal nature of my comments, all woo is sh*t, and all its proponents are either foolish or dishonest or both.

  94. #95 Todd W.
    harpocratesspeaks.com
    December 17, 2012

    @Judith

    Just a quick question for you regarding the Randi Million Dollar Challenge. Rather than taking the word of that commenter you copied, or even taking the word of any of the commenters here, have you actually read the Challenge rules for yourself?

  95. #96 Denice Walter
    December 17, 2012

    @ MarkL,

    * Au contraire*, would you prefer to walk through mouse poo or elephant poo? You might not even notice the former but the latter might stop you in your tracks.
    I have excellent rubber boots but even I might be taken aback by the really big game** woo-meisters, i.e. elephant or rhinosaurus poo.

    ** double entendre.

  96. #97 Denice Walter
    December 17, 2012

    RHINOCEROS

  97. #98 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    December 17, 2012

    Denice Walter – if we’re going to discuss sauropods, may I suggest apatosaurus?

    🙂

  98. #99 S
    December 17, 2012

    I have to vote for Scientist Based Quackery (SBQ) as the World’s Worst Woo. By that I mean Simoncini, Burzynski, Montanier, Duesberg and their ilk.

    Do you instead mean Luc Montagnier, the Lyme-Autism doctor?

  99. #100 Militant Agnostic
    December 17, 2012

    would you prefer to walk through mouse poo or elephant poo

    Hantavirus

  100. #101 Denice Walter
    December 17, 2012

    @ Mephistopheles O’Brien:

    Shhh… we have to be careful tossing the saur- or -saurus around here because you-know-who might think we’re referring to him.

  101. #102 herr doktor bimler
    December 17, 2012

    ranking which animal turds are the worst to step in.

    Dairy farm. Cold winter morning, still dark, frost on the grass, cold creeping in through the gumboots.
    You too would be seeking a fresh steaming cow-pat to step in.

  102. #103 Denice Walter
    December 17, 2012

    @ Militant Agnostic:

    What do you think the boots are for? Not just miasmal swamps.

  103. #104 MarkL
    December 17, 2012

    @Denice

    What do you think the boots are for?

    For stamping on woo of course!

  104. #105 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    December 17, 2012

    @Denice Walter – seeing as you are you-know-who’s darling and Dark Lady, I suspect you have little to fear. I, however, as a shill 4th class (with cluster) and minimal chance for advancement am far beneath His Lordship’s notice. Considering my current share of Philthy Pharma Lucre™, I feel I’m in the title role of the song Me and Bobby McGee.

  105. #106 Militant Agnostic
    December 17, 2012

    These boots are made for walking and that’s just what they’ll do.
    One of these days these boots are going to walk all over woo.

  106. #107 THS
    Oh - brief sunshine
    December 17, 2012

    Worst woo thread, now? Denice, you never fail us! Me, anyway, since my overt interest in woo/quackery is recent and it helps to have these pithy contributions.
    Be careful with those boots if you enter miasmal swamps. We have a problem with New Zealand Mud Snails in Western Oregon, for example. They are spread by contaminated boats, boots, etc. Watershed-savvy folks treat the boots with detergent solutions (1/2X 409 is good) after we tromp through a riparian or marsh/swamp site. You can take that as a metaphor if you wish.
    So far as what kind of poo is least objectionable, bears that have eaten apples quickly pass an applesauce-like “offering”. Not so bad if you have boots & not low-cut shoes.
    Worst woo? There are categories, aren’t there? I was shocked by bleach enemas inflicted on autistic children. That was a recent topic when I found RI. Pseudoscience/medicine-based quackery by credential (quacks) is its own pernicious brand. We could list those that are most currently irritating and a marg or judith will surely slither by to bring us more.
    And is it against the rules to go to Quackwatch to bring inflate our own contributions?

  107. #108 THS
    typo
    December 17, 2012

    Better be careful or judith’ll get me. In that last sentence, strike “bring” so my bias can conform.

  108. #109 flip
    December 17, 2012

    @DW

    e.g. I will ask readers if they think that energy healing ( * a la* reiki) is truly the worst woo or if that distinction is reserved for ANOTHER form of alt med? And why is that?

    I think the worst woo is something akin to what Burzyinski does. There are things that will seem completely out there to most people – ie faith healing – but there are other things which so closely resemble real science that it sucks more people in. Medical frauds such as Wakefield, and those who clearly divert themselves around the scientific method, are far more dangerous because they have a better veneer of believability to them.

    @JGC

    Hard to get much worse than routinely forcing beach enemas on children who already suffer from sensory issues.

    Typos conjured up people taking their kids to the beach and making them enjoy the sand in their shorts. Either way, not a pleasant image.

  109. #110 Denice Walter
    December 17, 2012

    @THS:

    Quackwatch is an inspiration to us all.

    @ flip:

    AJW is such a master fraud that he gets called a truth-teller by frauds for calling truth-tellers frauds.
    Believe me that sentence works!

    Excusez-moi, now I have to venture out into the chill, dark, rainy night to drive someone somewhere. Lucky me!

  110. #111 flip
    December 17, 2012

    Yes, AJW certainly has some “cobols” on him 😉

  111. #112 Glaxxon PharmaCOM
    Subjugation Fleet Imperial Yacht "Revenge of the Fallen" IFY2294
    December 17, 2012

    MESSAGE BEGINS——————————-

    Minion 4th Class O’Brien,

    Are we feeling a bit . . . left out? You could certainly be our darling if you made a Veau avec des grillons sur le riz with as much flair as Cadre Leader Walter. What diversions and talents (aside from your considerable skill in rounding up and disposing of the odd peddler of magic beans) have you been hiding from us? We Glaxxon do so love a story well told, especially with hand puppets and small explosive devices. We want to keep our Shills and Minions, whatever their class, happy and ready to carry out our orders du jour.

    So in that spirit I hereby promote you to Shill, Class II, with clusters and, of course, the Ceremonial, Great Echidna of Office. Of course, the Great Echidna is a substitution for the Schleha’ich Gleev’cich Mook (Great Mook of Office), whose mere presence would most likely cause you to soil your britches. Be glad we have assigned a less . . . fearsome creature as your constant companion.

    Instructions on caring for the Ceremonial Echidna of Office are to be found in the case on the side of it’s presentation palanquin, or just ask Cadre Leader Walter who has grown quite fond of hers if I recall. As Cadre Leader she, of course, accompanied by the far more fearsome Ceremonial Tall Cat of Office.

    In any case she will fill you in on the traditional Wall of Teeth induction ceremony and you new pay grade. Hopefully this will help pacify this “Bobby McGee” character who plagues you so.

    We’re off to inspect the Rim Colonies and attend Xenu and Todd’s anniversary party with the usual suspects. Prince Charles will studiously avoid Camilla and drone on about magic water while Serena de Rothschild will no doubt make a fuss over the firmness of the mattresses again. That woman never stops complaining except to talk about horses. The things I endure . . .

    Good thinking using that Reiki-B-Gon spray. Worked like a charm, didn’t it? I told you.

    Congratulations, etc., etc.
    Lord Draconis Zeneca, VH7ihL

    Forward Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Pharmaca Magna of Terra, Avenger of the Egg Mother

    IFY229 In Transit
    000111010110111010111011111111101110

  112. #113 Glaxxon PharmaCOM
    Glaxxon PharmaCOM Orbital
    December 17, 2012

    MESSAGE BEGINS——————

    OMG! I told that big dummy not to try to use HTML. Total Bold Fail! LOL!:)

    He means well. Well, if you all need anything, you have my transpoder code . . . . see ya o.O

    Cindy Flinders HU7trX8
    Personal Assistant to His Lordship, Combat Cadre Leader First Class, Gravatic Artillery Specialist Level 7, Dance Dance Revolution Extreme Oni Challence Champion

    Glaxxon PharmaCOM Orbital
    0001011111101010111010101000101

    ———————————MESSAGE ENDS

  113. #114 Alain
    December 17, 2012

    @ Alain:

    But of course you can cook- you’re FRENCH!
    well, at any rate, you’ve got a French name..
    oh… so do I…cancel that theory out.
    No wait, mine is Franglais therefore I can’t cook.

    Sure, I made spaghetti tonight (with mom’s sauce) but last year, I have been schooled by a 13 years old girl to help make super for 3 peoples (including myself) so perhaps I’ll need a girlfriend to help me regain my skills in cuisine 🙂

    @Alain, You don’t need to be able to cook well, you only need to believe you can. If you will it, it will be.

    Thanks. I lost my skills due to a very severe depression but I seem to be regaining them one by one but it’s a long process.

    If we want to hit 1000 comments, we should lure DJT over here. Just responding to its historical ignorance ought to be good for a few comments.

    please don’t, we can hit it by ourselves.

    In the meantime, to forget that I could have made 4 comments with these quotes, have some music:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJJsoquu70o

    Alain

  114. #115 LW
    December 17, 2012

    @Alain: “please don’t, we can hit it by ourselves.”

    I won’t. After getting a good look at DJT’s attempts at reasoning, I just pity him/her and will not mock him/her any further.

  115. #116 Alain
    December 17, 2012

    To make a more substantial post:

    @ S,

    With my ex-doctor (who hired me), there’s been a lot of thing we could have done differently with hindsight but at the time, I was in the difficult position of trying to save my life and the doctor held the keys to that because I couldn’t do it by myself (move to Montreal) so the first meeting which lasted about 20 minutes was with my doctor as well as the doctoral student taking notes for the doctor (and the doctoral student wasn’t in a clinical position nor she had any clinical training); I set out to say the cause of my troubles but was interrupted by both the doctor and the doctoral student because they weren’t ready for what I wanted to say and in the end, they offered to help me regarding my financial matters at the time but keep in mind, I was already suffering from PTSD & depression at the time and they did nothing to alleviate that which lead to despair.

    The second meeting lasted 30 minutes and it was during March 2008 (the first one being in the last few days of October 2007) where the doctor promised me a career in research. I don’t recall what we discuss but it’s certainly not my issues (depression & PTSD). This time, I was alone with the doctor and I was probably in a fine mood (not too good but not too bad) but school’s work took a dive as I couldn’t focus at all on my course. I don’t know how I passed school but I passed at 50% my course and I think I was helped. All I did learn about anatomy was my surgery skills with the scalpel in the anatomy lab (which would have landed me an A if it was in the marking criteria).

    Last meeting (while I was working for the doctor, this was in august 2008) was a short meeting at the hospital were I was speaking about my stress issues and was offered medication (he did not tell me which medication and neither the diagnostic) for my cause; I declined, not knowing the medication or the DX but I didn’t think to ask (in restrospect, the DX was bipolar disorder, maybe with psychotic element because he didn’t believe I was harassed, and the medication was Epival).

    Only later during November 2008 that the doctor did move me to his clinic with regular staff (social worker, psychologist, nurses, etc…) but at the time, I was laid off from work because I have caused a huge ruckus (is that a word) in the lab regarding the situation with the doctoral student I was working for and her boyfriend who didn’t like me.

    Alain

  116. #117 THS
    near a purring cat
    December 17, 2012

    @flip: your comment regarding medical fraud woo (and/or quackery) is well taken. These shady medical clinics target people who are desperately ill and bilk them shamelessly. Alt woo and whacky quantum stuff, homeopathy, chiropractic, etc. are despicable enough. They are always ripoffs, but, at least, many of the marks are the “worried well”. The faux medical cancer “clinics” target the frantic families of very sick to terminally ill families. Maybe we can agree to determine the worst woo on the basis of current astrological circumstances or sign or house or phase or whatever the hell they call it, such that each woo and every quackery gets to bask in infamy.

  117. #118 S
    December 18, 2012

    When Dr. B is investigated by the medical board, who pays for his legal expenses? Does he pay, or does he manipulate his other patients into paying for his defense, in addition their own medical expenses?

  118. #119 S
    December 18, 2012

    The worst of the medical fraudsters are those who have their other patients pay for their legal defense expenses.

  119. #120 Glaxxon PharmaCOM
    December 18, 2012

    Montagnier it is. Poor Luc seems to have fallen from his heights as one of the first to isolate HIV into the quantum woo singularity trying to prove homeopathy broadcasts radio frequencies. I wasn’t aware of his Lyme quackery. I’m shocked I tell you, shocked. If only there were a cure for Nobel Disease . . .

  120. #121 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    December 18, 2012

    Your most generous and fearsome lordship,

    I am overwhelmed by your kind words and this totally unexpected promotion. We are building a force of extraordinary magnitude. We forge our tradition in the spirit of our ancestors. You have my gratitude.

    As a side note, the Great Echidna of Office arrived this morning and once unshackled from its palanquin, has already begun establishing its dominance over the other life forms in the O’Brien hovel, as well as decimating the closer insect life forms.

  121. #122 S
    December 18, 2012

    I wasn’t aware of his Lyme quackery. I’m shocked I tell you, shocked. If only there were a cure for Nobel Disease . . .

    Interviews with Prof. Montagnier by Lilou of Juicy Living Tours is posted on YouTube. He says multiple sclerosis can be cured by using antibiotics at the onset the the disease. MS is due to a dysfunctioning immune system, primarily resulting from bacteria in the gut, he claims.

    En Francais: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LRQ-NhEkLXU

    En Englais: http://www.youtube.com/embed/ubSnxCr7kz8

    trying to prove homeopathy broadcasts radio frequencies.

    IIRC, he claims that it is the bacteria that emit the radio frequencies, and thus can be treated and eradicated through the use of countering frequencies, such as PEMF and RIFE.

  122. #123 S
    December 18, 2012

    ^ are posted on YouTube.

  123. #124 Shay
    December 18, 2012

    MS is due to …primarily resulting from bacteria in the gut

    What is it with quacks and their obsessing over guts? *Everything* starts with the gut, it seems.

  124. #125 flip
    December 18, 2012

    @Shay

    What is it with quacks and their obsessing over guts? *Everything* starts with the gut, it seems.

    I was thinking the same thing.

  125. #126 Calli Arcale
    December 18, 2012

    What is with the obsession with guts? Well, they’re mostly thinking with their guts, and they trust their gut feelings more than anything else, so perhaps it’s appropriate.

  126. #127 Edith Prickly
    December 18, 2012

    @Shay, Flip – a sublimated purity fetish? Their obsession with internal “cleansing” suggests that to me.

  127. #128 Militant Agnostic
    In a house where we obey the laws of thermodynamics.
    December 18, 2012

    I think the obsession with the gut is a recycling of nineteenth century ideas about auto-intoxication. Add to that recent* discoveries about the the importance of gut bacteria to add an “ahead of the curve” sciency veneer and the marks are suitably impressed.

    *for a definition of recent that includes the last 50 years.

  128. #129 S
    December 18, 2012

    On the contrary, some on them are obsessed with other parts of the anatomy, but I don’t necessarily think that would be an acceptable discussion for RI.

  129. #130 S
    December 18, 2012

    I think that the obsession with the other body parts may stem from Freud and other like-minded psychiatrists, doused with a disgusting amount of personal fetishes being imposed and played out on their patients.

  130. #131 Edith Prickly
    December 18, 2012

    @S – I was using a very broad definition of “gut”, which includes the distasteful practices you’re talking about. I didn’t post on the other thread where someone asked people to name the worst kind of woo but my one of my personal woo bete noires is forcing large amounts of (often toxic) fluids in where they don’t belong. I find it baffling that the same people who dismiss the need for medical treatment for serious illnesses also insist that the body is incapable of doing simple things like digesting and eliminating food without external intervention.

  131. #132 Denice Walter
    December 18, 2012

    @ Alain:

    The more I learn about this situation, the worse it sounds.

    What’s most important NOW, is
    having a safe place to live
    having enough money to eat et al,
    being able to see a medical doctor, if need be,
    having someone to talk to about your day-to-day life
    ( hopefully, a professional, if not, a trusted relative or friend)

    then, having something to ‘work on’- school, work, hobbies.

    Because you’ve had collisions with ‘difficult people’, you need to get your confidence back- the whole world isn’t like that- there are decent people and you probably already know some. You have many friends here.

    Counselling on a regular basis is like an education wherein you learn skills about dealing with awful people- and EVERYONE has experienced this, believe me- sometimes it’s learning how to AVOID them or put out feelers when you first meet someone new in order to evaluate whether they are a risk. There is no failsafe method but you can ‘increase your odds.’

    It’s also important to realise that you’ve ALREADY come quite far and have already made progress. All of our paths have obstacles strewn across them which slow things down: everyone has to clean them up from time to time.

    Just ” keep on keeping on” as Mr Dylan wrote.

  132. #133 flip
    December 18, 2012

    @Edith

    @Shay, Flip – a sublimated purity fetish? Their obsession with internal “cleansing” suggests that to me.

    Maybe it’s a replacement for all the puritanical religious stuff, or at least, feeds into that. Constantly being told that sin is bad and one must be good would certainly link in well with being good on both the inside and outside.

    Add in a “why me?” feeling every time something bad happens and a reinforcement from health ‘providers’, and you’d have a quick psychological guilt trip. Even moreso for women, given the amount of beauty/health/perfection stuff that goes on in mainstream media.

    (Hmmm, I must have psychic abilities, I seem to be channeling DW)

  133. #134 Shay
    December 18, 2012

    @flip

    Fashion magazines used to be* big on “cleansing” weekends. Get rid of the roommate/boyfriend/husband and spend two days drinking green tea and meditating. I think spas still offer this as a female-bonding/pre-bridal package.

    (*maybe they still are. I stopped reading them about 20 years ago).

  134. #135 Denice Walter
    December 18, 2012

    @ flip:

    I find that gilding the lily is entirely worthwhile.

    @ Mephistopheles O’Brien:

    Welcome to the club.
    Although I suspect that our ancestors might have had the occasional run-in, it’s nice to be fighting on the same side – afterall, our ancestors had so much in common being war-like, white as sheets and fond of despiacble, horrible foods- as many of our relations STILL are- bless the poor creatures.

  135. #136 Denice Walter
    December 18, 2012

    @ Shay:

    Although I try to look as perfect as reality allows, I think that cleaniness should be restricted to the exterior surfaces of the body.

    But if people LIKE the other procedures, who am I? Seriously, I think that it has little to do with puritanism but is quite the reverse.. if you catch my drift.

  136. #137 flip
    December 18, 2012

    @Shay

    Our local paper has a weekend health section. 90% of it would be ads for “wellness” stuff (natural, supplements, herbs, workouts, you name it), with 5% editorial on same, and the rest is relaxation, spas, etc. It wouldn’t surprise me if many of the weekly women’s magazines were exactly the same – I don’t read them myself, and one of the reasons why is because they spend so much time focusing on positive thinking, beauty and being perfect.

  137. #138 Glaxxon PharmaCOM
    Rim Outpost LV334 Prime
    December 19, 2012

    MESSAGE BEGINS———————-

    Shill O’Brien, Class II, etc.

    I was reminded by Astra to tell you to keep the Ceremonial Echidna of Office away from wheat, they’re very gluten intolerant, but then again, who isn’t these days? Don’t let it eat all the bugs, keep some for yourself, after all, you deserve the extra protein Mr. Class II Shill!

    Back to following my better half around as she intimidates the Suzerain of LV334. Then another inedible banquet and off to the LV337b. Oh, well, evil never sleeps . . . or something like that.

    Lord Draconis Zeneca, VH7ihL

    Foreword Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Grand Vitara of Eminiar VII, Carrier of the Handbag

    LV334 Inspection Tour
    000110110101111011010101011100000000101011

    —————————MESSAGE ENDS

  138. #139 prn
    January 15, 2013

    Denice Walter re December 8, 2012 … Why do none of these arcane, magical essences of nature I keep hearing about- year in, year out – ever seem to pan out?…has it ever been transformed into a SBM cancer treatment? … other mushrooms- turkey tail, meitake, shitake), cited by commenter PRN here- where has that gone?
    Based on small but pronounced improvements in CBC, the mushroom extracts have gone well, thank you. One of them, PSK, I pay too much, [grumble, grumble] but its effect is of measurable benefit and allows more 5FU-LV type chemo to be used.

    Other beta glucans, developed by a group from MIT called Alpha Beta Corp in the 1990s, has interesting effects on CBC component measures that are described in papers to reflect on the success of 5FU based therapies. Characteristically, some of the CBC values rise like a projectile when 5FU chemo is most effective. Then the blood values peak, and when blood values typically fall in ca 7-11 months, the 5FU show is over.

    Most interesting, is that this beta glucan not only elevated the previous peak, finally to levels that some papers suggest are a high survival area, but has extended the peak for more than a year past typical 5FU effectiveness times. I do buy other biomodulators, so I am not claiming these “magic powders” are solely responsible for success. However, their measured effects within CBC correlate with dose or absence.

    Separately, the successor to Alpha Beta seems to still be on the EBM trial trail with its beta glucans. The Chinese may be also doing EBM trials overseas with their mushroom extracts.

    PS. I thought I used “prn” here first, rather than that other “PRN” but may have missed its prior use. Thanks for thinking of me.

  139. […] fast and loose with human subjects protections in the numerous clinical trials he runs, and his arrogance of ignorance. Basically, I view Burzynski as someone who is incompetent as an oncologist and highly unethical as […]

  140. […] just eating up the attention. Indeed, from my perspective he’s an egomaniac, full of the arrogance of ignorance about things like personalized cancer therapy, prone to contemptuously dismissing and attacking anyone who has the temerity to question the Great […]

  141. […] even the originator—of the concept of gene-targeted cancer therapy back in the 1990s. It’s utter rot, of course, but Burzynski really did make that […]

  142. […] to be more akin to “personalized gene-targeted therapy for dummies,” given his arrogance of ignorance about cancer genetics and biology. It turns out that what happens to a lot of patients at the Burzynski Clinic is truly appalling and […]

  143. […] and of the “personalized gene-targeted therapy for dummies” based on nothing but arrogance of ignorance regarding genomic medicine, is going to be lionized again in a sequel to a previous movie that lionized him. (Obviously, […]

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