Respectful Insolence

Over the weekend, as I was contemplating what to write about for today, I received a rather odd and unexpected e-mail. Indeed, it was with great surprise that I read this e-mail on Saturday morning, sent to the Burzynski Movie mailing list:

Dear Burzynski Movie Subscribers:

Major International Distribution Deal For
Burzynski: Cancer Is Serious Business, Part II:

We are pleased to announce that Burzynski: Cancer Is Serious Business, Part II has landed a major international distribution deal with one of America’s top distribution companies.

We can’t give out any specific details until everything is finalized, but promise to keep you informed. All we can say is, if you live in North America and own a television set, you will be likely able to see this new documentary by summer. However, the distribution deal stretches beyond just television.

Given this new development, we had to halt all pre-sales for the DVD to follow the protocols required of us by the distribution company. We are re-opening pre-sales now, with the new ship date being July 1, 2013 (instead of March 5, 2013).

The rest of the e-mail consisted of explanations of how those who had already preordered the movie for March 5 shipping would get a bonus if they kept their orders active and waited until July to receive their DVD.

On the surface, this would appear to be a horrible development, if Merola has indeed managed to secure some sort of international distribution deal. However, I’m not quite so sure that it is, given this post, which I recommend that you read. What I’d like to concentrate on here is another highly distressing aspect of this e-mail that I noticed as I scrolled down the e-mail. There, near the bottom, I found this banner:

pbs_cpt12

If you click on the link in the banner above, you’ll be taken to a web page in which the first Burzynski movie is listed. Apparently, the Denver affiliate of Colorado Public Television, CPT12, will be showing this infomercial to its viewers during pledge week. Indeed, on the page above there is this description:

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION:
This award-winning documentary tells the story of Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, a pioneering medical doctor and PhD biochemist who won the largest – and possibly the most convoluted – legal battle against the Food and Drug Administration in American history. Burzynski’s battles were centered on his belief in Antineoplastons, a gene-targeting cancer therapy he discovered in the 1970s.

The ultimate approval of Antineoplastons would mark the first time in history a single scientist, not a pharmaceutical company, would hold the exclusive patent and distribution rights on a paradigm-shifting, life-saving medical breakthrough.

Directed by Eric Merola, BURZYNKSI provides first-person testimonials of cancer patients who chose his treatment instead of surgery, chemotherapy or radiation – with full disclosure of original medical records to support their diagnosis and recovery.

IN-STUDIO GUESTS:
During its CPT12 premiere, Director Eric Merola and Houston’s Burzynski Clinic spokesperson Azad Rastegar will join CPT12 Membership Director Shari Bernson and journalist Rebecca Stevens live in the studio to discuss the film.

So, it turns out, this is more than just an airing of the movie. CPT12 is going all out to promote Stanislaw Burzynski as a means of bringing in donor dollars, complete with an appearance by Eric Merola, a shill for the Burzynski Clinic, and the membership director of the station. There’s even a link to stream the live broadcast on Thursday evening.

All of this is really frustrating, for a number of reasons. First, although I’m under no illusion that PBS should be nothing but serious science and serious programming, I do think that it, more than most networks, should have an obligation not to promote a man like Stanislaw Burzynski. That’s what Eric Merola is doing, and by promoting Merola’s Burzynski infomercial, CPT12 is promoting Burzynski as well. As I discussed before, the movie is a massive exaggeration, full of cherry-picked anecdotes of “miracle cures” that aren’t, while Burzynski’s “personalized gene-targeted cancer therapy” is neither personalized, targeted, nor demonstrated to be effective. It’s making it up as you go along, a veritable “personalized cancer therapy for dummies,” as I like to put it. So basically, CPT12 is shilling for Burzynski and his cult of personality. Meanwhile, Burzynski has slithered away from justice yet again, getting off on a technicality and throwing the doctors who work for him under the buss. While the FDA has repeatedly slapped him down, both for inadequate human subjects protections and for promoting his “antineoplastons” without their having been approved by the FDA, but somehow Burzynski keeps on keepin’ on, as they say. Even now the FDA is auditing Burzynski and might well shut him down; yet CPT12 sees no problem promoting him in order to try to make money for itself.

One has to wonder: Does CPT12 know or care that Stanislaw Burzynski charges patients huge sums of money to take part in his clinical trials, whose results he doesn’t publish? Does Shari Bernson care that the Burzynski Research Institute is currently being investigated by the FDA? Do they care that patient after patient after patient have died while under Burzynski’s care, despite his promises to cure them? Is she aware of how only a little more than a year ago the Burzynski Clinic unleashed a legal thug on skeptical bloggers who had the temerity to criticize his science (or, more appropriately, the lack thereof) whom it was ultimately forced to disavow.

Is this really the sort of thing that CPT12 wants to associate itself with?

Apparently it is. I started perusing the CPT12 website, and what to my unfortunately wondering eyes should appear but a whole boatload of quackery and pseudoscience? For instance, CPT12 is giving away a whole collection of Gary Null videos as “thank you” gifts to donors, including:

There’s also Dr. Fuhrman’s Immunity Solution, which trots out the same old nonsense about “boosting” the immune system. Then there’s The Quantum Activist, which clearly uses and abuses quantum theory in the same way that quantum quacks everywhere. Don’t believe me? Check out the description:

For quantum physicist Amit Goswami, medicine is a timely area of application for the new science based on the primacy of consciousness. This new science has a spectacular ability to integrate conventional science, spirituality, and healing. If any field needs integration, says Goswami, it is medicine and healing.

Goswami boldly reinterprets the leading methods of alternative medicine–homeopathy, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, Ayurveda, and conventional medicine in this new edition of his popular book. He shows how these seemingly different models can be combined into a new system of integrative medicine and offers profound insights into the relationship between physics and consciousness.

This approach offers physicians and patients a whole new way of applying healthcare with a greater potential for healing and could be the basis for a major paradigm shift in medicine.

Oh, dear.

I don’t know what’s happened to PBS in Colorado, but it’s bad. It’s real bad. CPT12 has turned into a wretched hive of scum and quackery on par with NaturalNews.com or Mercola.com, and it appears to be doing it all to try to suck in dollars from the woo-prone. If you live in Colorado (or even if you don’t), use this form to send the management at CPT12 a comment about their choice of pledge drive material.

Comments

  1. #1 Sebastian Jackson
    Tampere, Finland
    March 4, 2013

    This isn’t the first time Colorado Public Television, or KBDI, has aired questionable material. In March 2010, it broadcast a conspiracy-theory documentary called “Camp FEMA: American Lockdown”, which featured lunatic radio host Alex Jones and a couple of lumunaries of the so-called “Patriot” movement. Like the Null crockumentaries, KBDI sold “Camp FEMA” as part of its fundraising drive. The station has also aired conspiracy-theory films about 9/11 and income taxes. More information can be found at the SPLC’s Hatewatch.org: http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2010/03/11/the-unlikeliest-conspiracy-monger-colorado-public-tv/

  2. #2 Sebastian Jackson
    March 4, 2013

    ADDENDUM: Here is a video on YouTube showing 9/11 Truth activists taking part in a KBDI pledge drive while the on-air hosts pitch a 9/11 Truth crockumentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxWMDTuhxdI

  3. #3 Sebastian Jackson
    united kingdom
    March 4, 2013

    this is all a conspiracy! 9/11, aliens, new world ordered a big mac – all of it! it’s illumiatti mixed with ferrarris and the reptile shape shifters!

  4. #4 Sebastian Jackson
    March 4, 2013

    ^^^^^^^

    Ignore the jerk using my name at #3. I didn’t write that.

  5. #5 Lily
    The Bitey Part of Down Under
    March 4, 2013

    The only conspiracy here is how did Merola get the film voted people’s choice awards several times over? I just have this image of him sitting there on the interwebs repeatedly voting for himself.

  6. #6 Ellie
    March 4, 2013

    It’s not just Colorado. This year, here in Western New York, I will not be supporting public television or NPR. This was a difficult decision to make as I have been a supporter in one form or another, for 53 years. But, for example, this past Saturday, we had six solid hours of woo, including JJ Virgin (DON’T EAT GLUTEN!), Dr. Daniel Amen and his brain scans, and Not a Doctor Brenda Watson. In the past, we’ve had Fuhrman and many others. This has become SOP for WNED TV.

    Used to be that people selling their products via infomercials had to pay for time on network or cable TV, but not on Public Television. Oh, no. on Public Television, we get to pay them to sell us snake oil. Well, not me. Not any more.

  7. #7 Bob
    United States
    March 4, 2013

    Becoming?

  8. #8 Mu
    March 4, 2013

    Well, it’s pledge week, so call them to let them know you WON’T be donating this year because of the schmutz they’re airing.

  9. #9 lmachintelligence
    March 4, 2013

    There are two PBS outlets in Colorado, and this is the smaller (and apparently the less reputable) one. I am a regular contributor to Rocky Mountain PBS and to the best of my knowledge they have never fallen for this sort of woo. Please do not confuse them.

  10. #10 Denice Walter
    March 4, 2013

    re woo and quackery on public media:

    The Null-meister himself brags about the popularity of his work on American pubic television: his pledge drives raise the most money etc. He manufactures films ( “over 100″ of them to date- see Gary Null.com) to air and shill; I am not entirely sure of how he directly profits from his involvement – which includes appearances, supplying ‘gifts’ for donors – films or products- but a while back there was a bit of a scandal when he made a Pacifica radio station pay a great deal of money for his ‘gifts’ which made some subscribers angry. Obviously the films and broadcasts are publicity for him and his products.

    He appears only in smaller markets because ( he relates) when he appeared in NYC, the Rockefellar family, who had a member on the “sugar council” forced him off the air because his message “told the truth” about sugar ( I can envision it now: “Sugar: the OTHER white powder”). Other larger cities’ stations fell into line with Ms Rockefellar’s orders. Obviously the scions of Big Pharma, Big Media and Big Candy are plotting against him.

    Noting the titles Orac has provided above- you’ll see that his woo knows no boundaries- woo *sans frontieres”.

  11. #11 Denice Walter
    March 4, 2013

    OT but is self promotion whilst shilling alt med treatment plans EVER truly OT @ RI?
    I should think not.

    TMR relates its plans for the future today in a message by Ms Goddess:
    their book “Thinking Moms’ Revolution: Autism Beyond the Spectrum” is now in pre-order, to be released in April:
    they hope to run out of the initial first print of 2500 in the first week ( or in pre-order) necessitating a quick re-print.

    TMR sells merchandise ( shirts and magnets) and is in the process of setting up a not-for-profit which will be funded by the book sales et al:
    their aim is to provide funding for financially strapped families to acquire treatment ( i.e. woo) which they currently can’t afford. TMR outlines parents’ successes with the many forms of alt med dietary, supplemental and other ( far worse) treatments that the woo-esphere currently offers.

    Their blog is most popular in Rio de Janeiro and Chicago; their Facebook has nearly 8K ( as of today). They will appear at the AutismOne conference in order to sell the book and their own sparkling, raucous and diverse, warrior mother personae. Preface by Dr Sears.

  12. #12 Michael Brady
    Minneapolis, MN
    March 4, 2013

    The Right has its denialism and the Left has its woo. Magical thinking and pledge week go together like sustainably harvested Oolong and free-range honey.

  13. #13 MHO
    March 4, 2013

    Ask them to interview another doctor or scientist for a rebuttal and look at http://theotherburzynskipatientgroup.wordpress.com/about/
    I don’t have them but are their links to the stories of Dr. Stan’s harassment of his critics that they should also know about?

    Shari Bernson
    Director of Development
    sbernson@cpt12.org

    Willard “Wick” D. Rowland, Jr
    President & CEO
    wrowland@cpt12.org

  14. #14 MHO
    March 4, 2013

    edit: there not their

  15. #15 MHO
    March 4, 2013

    This is the “reporter” who’ll be on the show. Per google, there are several Rebecca Stevens–perhaps someone signed up on linkedin or a similar show could find the email for the correct one?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXgK_MAD31g

  16. #16 bad poet
    March 4, 2013

    On a beautiful Kasimir Pulaski Day here in Chicago, I’m trying to think what we have in common with Rio, other than failed Olympics bids and large slum areas. It’s not the weather! As for Unthinking Moms Devolution, I have no charitable words for them.

  17. #17 kruuth
    March 4, 2013

    Just spoke with the folks there…they are getting TONS of mail about this, none is pro-Burzynsky. Apparently this is the choice of their programs director.

  18. #18 Denice Walter
    March 4, 2013

    Addendum:

    Another ‘wretched hive of scum and quackery” in the making?… ( sorry I leave it out)

    i.e. Skyhorse- who will publish the TMR book: other authors there are AJW ( ‘Callous Disregard’) and LKH & Holland ( ‘Autism Epidemic’) and the new imprint, Gary Null Publishing, featuring himself et compagnie with 12 releases ( book plus film, perhaps) forthcoming.

  19. #19 Liz Ditz
    March 4, 2013

    At this morning’s Voices for Vaccines: Laura Calise on becoming an effective lay advocate for vaccines

    http://www.voicesforvaccines.org/a-visceral-overwhelming-empathy/

    The anti-vaccine crowd has an appeal for everyone in my circles: Distrust of government for the conservative Republicans. Aversion to the “unnatural” for the California crunchies. Philosophical aversion to “nanny state” mandates for the Libertarians. Appealing to a God-given role in the stewardship of their children’s lives for Christians. Distaste and disdain for the mainstream for the homeschoolers. Counter-cultural appeal for the Catholics. And when you have “skeptics” conflating all sorts of (opposing) political, philosophical, and religious arguments with science, scientific truth becomes just another objectionable opinion.

  20. #20 Annonymous27
    March 4, 2013

    Brad Haug
    Director of Programming
    Colorado Public Television
    303.296.1212

  21. #21 weirdnoise
    March 4, 2013

    Even KQED here in the SF Bay Area has done detox, gluten-free, and other woo infomercials during pledge drives.

  22. #22 Dangerous Bacon
    March 4, 2013

    Funny, I thought of Burzynski and his enablers just yesterday when I caught a radio infomercial for a line of “toxin-free” cosmetics.

    They were interviewing an “investigative reporter” who supposedly had worked for a number of East Coast media outlets. She reported that while she was “skeptical” of the company’s claims at first, she had become convinced of all the harm that “toxins” were doing to people’s skin and how wonderful the company’s products were.

    Investigative reporting in the U.S. really seems to be going down the tubes these days.

  23. #23 Melissa G
    March 4, 2013

    What the hell are they teaching kids in journalism school these days?

  24. #24 Tom Herling
    March 4, 2013

    I forwarded the link to this post to PBS’s Ombudsman at the network level, Michael Getler, who states his function is to “address significant issues related to how PBS upholds its own standards of editorial integrity.”

    http://www.pbs.org/ombudsman/feedback.html

  25. #25 Politicalguineapig
    March 4, 2013

    Micheal Brady: What sort of barbarian are you? oolong and greens should always be drunk straight.

  26. #26 Glaxxon PharmaCOM Terrabase DIA
    Deep below the tarmac . . .
    March 5, 2013

    MESSAGE BEGINS——————–

    Shills and Minions, Cadre Leader DW, PBS Members

    This is an unfortunate situation, and right above our noses, so to speak. I’m here at Terrabase DIA and while we certainly don’t watch your tell a vision thing, we do try to keep claw on the pulse of local going’s on. This Bursnitsky film business is really beginning to chap my cloaca. We need to make our own heart-tugging films to bring people to our side. The films we produce currently seem awfully short, bland and then for some reason, the director insists on putting a long list of unpleasant side effects at the end.

    As for Big Sugar, well that’s the Rockefellers alright. Of course, they’re not Glaxxon, they’re Vi’ixinioctori, yet another tiresome, self-important, insectoid species in fierce competition with the Kthrakxx and their Big Corn products. Our consortium members meet with the “Rockefellers” from time to time, at least the Rothschilds and the Windsors do, since they seem to get along with them. I can’t stand the stench of chiton. No amount of shapeshifting can hide that smell.

    In any case, I’m all hearing organs as to how to make more effective films to keep the monkey masses from straying away from PharmaCOM products. As for the tiresome squabbling among the sugar-promoting species, I don’t really care who wins that battle, but I have learned to enjoy a lovely layer cake from time to time, with cricket sprinkles, of course.

    Back to your merciless harassment of those dreadful tell a vision monkeys,

    Lord Draconis Zeneca, VH7ihL
    Foreward Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Pharmaca Magna of Terra, Betty Crocker Interspecies Bake-Off, Senior Judge

    Glaxxon PharmaCOM Terrabase DIA
    0000010001010110101101000010101011

    ————————–MESSAGE ENDS

  27. #27 Narad
    March 5, 2013

    What the hell are they teaching kids in journalism school these days?

    PBS stations, in the modern day, traditionally run garbage during pledge drives. The variety of the garbage varies by location. (It wasn’t always this way; the WTTW pledge auction was famously popular in the ’70s.)

    As far as I can tell, it’s some sort of mutant variety of the public-radio strategy of irritating people into pledging. (Unfortunately for the local station, these spots are better than the usual programming, as they’re live and local.)

  28. #28 Narad
    March 5, 2013

    ^ “local radio station”

  29. [...] today I wrote about how Colorado Public TV (channel 12) has betrayed its public trust by airing movies promoting quackery and/or pseudoscience. The most recent example is its upcoming [...]

  30. #30 LindaRosaRN
    http://www.scienceinmedicine.org
    March 5, 2013

    A clarification. Local public television stations are not PBS. PBS certifies local stations to carry their programming and collects an annual fee from them. PBS has long refused to take any responsibility for what local stations air, even when it appears obvious that the local station has violated the pledge to be non-commerical, non-sectarian and non-political.

    Writing the PBS Ombudsmans, Michael Getler, is a useless effort, except that your letter will likely be published on the PBS website, along with Getler’s comments. http://www.pbs.org/ombudsman/

  31. #31 LWS
    Loveland, Colorado
    March 5, 2013

    Unfortunately, lmachintelligence (#9) got it wrong about the Other PBS Station in (Denver) Colorado, Rocky Mountain PBS. It pioneered Woo infomercials in Colorado. They are not now as thoroughgoingly bad as CPT, but still have their unparalleled moments. Last night, it was Daniel Amen and Wayne Dyer back-to-back in prime time.

  32. #32 LWS
    Loveland, Colorado
    March 5, 2013

    PS. In the wee hours of this morning, RMPBS had vegan Neal Barnard (Reversing Diabetes), advertised as Himself being live in-studio.

  33. #33 Eliza
    March 16, 2013

    There are some people out there who disagree with the Great Orac.

    Here is one:

    http://bit.ly/XQAltH

  34. #34 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 16, 2013

    Eliza,

    1. I’m sure there are any number of people who disagree with Orac on various topics. That in and of itself says nothing about the quality of their views.

    2. It will take a braver person than I to click on a shortened link like that one.

  35. #35 lilady
    March 16, 2013

    Gee Eliza…thanks for pointing out the obvious. Here we were thinking that we had identified just about all the people who disagree with Orac.

    Have you any er, comments to add to the subject of this thread?

  36. #36 Chris
    March 16, 2013

    The tinyurl is just some lazy dude who found lots of blog posts (some dating to 2005) by people who don’t like Orac. Like AoA posts by Young Master Crosby, and JB Handley (who used to brag how he was chelating his kid with a special cream from Rashid Buttar, or as I like to call it “Buttar Cream”).

    That blog merits a big lazy whoop, eh! (it has “.ca” in the URL).

  37. #37 lilady
    March 16, 2013

    @ Chris: That “lazy dude” refers to himself as the “dad of a child damaged by vaccines”.

  38. #38 Chris
    March 16, 2013

    lilady, and that is an excuse for stealing content from other writers?

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