Stanislaw Burzynski: On the arrogance of ignorance about cancer and targeted therapies

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.

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Hubris personified.

No doubt the Burzynski Borg will appear soon to tell us how wrong you are.

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.

How can someone be so right and so wrong at the same time?
It's true that when the first antibiotics were discovered (starting with mercury salts, if one wants to go that far), they were used on many infections - but that's because there was no or few alternatives.
It's true that ideally, a antibiotic specific of the infecting bacteria should be used rather than a large-spectrum antibiotic, or worse, an antibiotic to which the germ is resistant.
But again, reality is more complex. There are reasons why the same antibiotics will be used in most infections of a specific organ. Some antibiotics are quickly excreted by the kidneys, and thus are prefered for infection of the urinary track, while others molecules tend to accumulate and are much more efficient at fighting infections of the throat or ears.

He is really good a communication, he has this nice story full of appreciated tropes and people want to hear it. He should be a politician.

By Heliantus (not verified) on 04 Dec 2012 #permalink

There's a specific example of this on the trailer for the new Burzynski movie. It mentions a patient called Betty Whyte (or possibly Wright). Her story is told on thousands of websites, for example this one, and it is claimed that Burzynski treated her Merkel cell cancer with a chemotherapy drug called Sutent (sunitinib) after "building a a molecular cancer genome" (whatever that means) on Mrs Wright/Whyte. Sutent is not usually used for Merkel cell cancer.

I can't find out anything else about Mrs Whyte/Wright or her cancer, but wondered if any oncologists might be able to comment further on this apparent off-label use of Sutent (which is an extremely expensive drug BTW).

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

Holy crap, the guy is a genuine nutter.

What next; he invented penicillin?

By Mark McAndrew (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

Krebiozen,

I should preface my remarks by saying that I am not an oncologist nor medically trained - I just have long standing (and unfortunate) family ties to cancer and its treatment.

Hasn't there been a flurry of research in the last few years looking at Sutent's efficacy for the treatment of all Neuroendocrine tumours? Perhaps the brave maverick read a paper somewhere and thought it prudent (financially if not medically) that he stock another item in his pharmacy at huge mark-ups.

Stan's scattergun approach to treatment of his patients certainly wouldn't inhibit him from throwing another ingredient into the chemical soup he sells.

Yes, he's a good communicator -- partly because he's telling stories which have a lot of surface plausibility. They make sense to the ordinary person because they sound analogous to familiar situations and common mistakes.

"I used to think an ointment to clear up a foot rash should only be used on the foot -- but it cleared up the rash on my arm, too! So I can understand how all those doctors for all those years were all getting it wrong about just treating the name of the cancer -- like a "foot" cancer or a "breast" cancer.. And I can also see how Burzynski must have had one of those ah-ha moments, like I did, where you see there's an underlying connection to things. It's so good to be able to follow along like this."

Good and easy, if you lower the standard of making sense.

When I first posted the link to this interview, I assumed Alternative Therapies was a consumer magazine, similar to the freebie hand-outs they have in every health food store touting supplements, acupuncture and homeoquackery. But I now realize this publication is aimed at the medical profession, including real medical doctors.

I understand how easy it is to fool a lot of the general public, but how many health professionals are actually going to believe the drivel in the story? Won't they all see the flaws, inconsistencies, distortions and lies like Orac did?

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

@ Marc Stephens is insane:
Agreed, it's drivel. But not all health professionals see though flaws, inconsistencies, etc. There are plenty of woo-infested health professionals. Examples: operating room Reiko or whatever it's called; nurses "healing touch". The list goes on.

I understand how easy it is to fool a lot of the general public, but how many health professionals are actually going to believe the drivel in the story? Won’t they all see the flaws, inconsistencies, distortions and lies like Orac did?

Don't forget that there are health professionals using energy readings to diagnose patients and salt water (ASEA) to treat cancer and other diseases.

Ignoring that cancer has been known to be caused by defective genes for a very, very long time, I went "WTF" at this bit:

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.

Seriously? He thinks antibiotics were *not* originally used to kill bacteria but acheived their goal by chance? That doctors who used antibiotics were unaware of germ theory originally? Wow. So he *seriously* hasn't heard the story of how antibiotics were first discovered? That it was all based on the surprising observation that penicillium colonies were making a toxin that killed bacteria?

Wow. And this guy calls himself a doctor. (Mind you, he probably isn't this stupid. He's just really bad at constructing an argument.)

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.

This is another amazing thing about Burzynski -- his ability to completely reverse himself in one sentence, without noticing. Oncologists will attack you for using Herceptin for any other cancer, except when they don't because they're busy using it against another cancer. What a genius.

Burzynski clearly doesn't spend a lot of time thinking anything through, given the poor construction of his arguments. This explains why he seems to find it too difficult to actually publish his work, why he clearly doesn't understand what the state of the art even is, and why he probably doesn't even understand the stuff he's doing. He's clearly a hack.

BTW, sometimes you do need to treat "the name of the infection" rather than the microorganism. It can take several days to grow a big enough colony to identify what the organism is sensitive to. If you wait that long, the patient will be much sicker before you start treatment -- and possibly even dead. Of course, we know from Burzynski's record that dead patients don't trouble him overmuch.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

Why don't these quacks ever invent a cure based on the consumption foie gras and Chateau Leoville-Las-Cases 2000?

Sound just as scientifically valid as baking soda/fungicides/antineoplastons and much more appetizing.to the patient.

@Calli Arcale

This is another amazing thing about Burzynski — his ability to completely reverse himself in one sentence, without noticing. Oncologists will attack you for using Herceptin for any other cancer, except when they don’t because they’re busy using it against another cancer. What a genius.

I suddenly have this image of Burzynski as The Sphynx from Mystery Men.

One of the more subtle but significant ironies here is that, to the extent that Burzynski makes any sense at all, it flies directly in the face of his own hype. It's axiomatic that the biggest flaw in the very idea of a "miracle cure" for cancer is that the condition is a very heterogeneous phenomenon. All Dr. B's talk of "personalized" and "targeted" treatment would seem only to maximize the problem: Taken to its logical conclusion, that means that the same "targeted" treatment could completely cure one person, but literally do nothing for anyone else. I recently thought up a line that seems completely applicable: "Even a magic bullet is just one bullet." Yet, Dr. B and his PR men still use the standard "magic bullet" hype...

David N. Brown
Mesa, Arizona

By David N. Brown (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Calli,
"doctors who used antibiotics were unaware of germ theory originally..."

This could be a reference to accounts of pre-modern applications of things like moldy bread to wounds. It's defensible to call this an early use of antibiotics.

By David N. Brown (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

@MarkL
You should know, if it tastes good, it can't work.

I've heard Steve Novella talk about whether quacks are true believer or charlatans, and how sometimes they can fit into both camps at the same time. Burzynski might need his own category: the megalomaniacal quack.

I understand how easy it is to fool a lot of the general public, but how many health professionals are actually going to believe the drivel in the story? Won’t they all see the flaws, inconsistencies, distortions and lies like Orac did?

For starters it depends upon what you consider a health professional. There are plenty of woo-drenched "health professionals" (naturopaths, chiropractors, homeopaths, etc.) who would lap this crap up and suspect who this "journal" is targeted towards. That said, there are quite a few credulous physicians who would also fall for this for a variety of reasons; a couple that come to mind are the "brave mavericks" and simply those who don't have the critical-thinking skills to properly evaluate this drek. Physicians =/= Scientists so not all will be possessed with the innate skill and/or education to keep them from falling victim to pseudo-science*.

*Sadly, being a scientist doesn't insulate one from being a dolt either as we have seen many examples from our esteemed host.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

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.

IIRC streptomycin was first used to target pulmonary M. tuberculosis infections. Penicillin had wider applications and was tried against streptococcus and staphylococcus (and anything else gram-positive).

The "or whatever" is the giveaway that Burzynski doesn't care what he's talking about, as well as not knowing.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

Herr Doctor,

You are correct. I remember being taught that Para Amino Salacyllic (sp? It's been a long time since I've written that) Acid and or Streptomycin were the drugs of choice in the treatment of TB. The RN were terrified of the disease and annual CXR's were compulsory right up to the mid 80's.

I also remember patients had to have an audiogram before and after being treated with streptomycin as the drug was well known for damaging the 8th Cranial Nerve.

I notice there is not peep about the patients for whom the treatment seems to be working or to have worked, e.g., Laura Hymas and Hannah Bradley. Why not?

Because any treatment, even one which does absolutely nothing (or worse), will "seem to work" for some. Cherry-picking successes means precisely nothing. Only rigorous testing - which Burzynski refuses to do - can tell whether it ACTUALLY works.

@Judith

I notice there is not one peep about the people who do not get into car accidents after drinking a glass of grapefruit juice, e.g., me. Why not?

If there was any case in history that conspiracy of the government and pharmaceutical companies is documented, this is the case.

I used our attorneys to force them to stop because we didn’t want them to kill people just to prove that the antineoplastons don’t work. So then they decided to work against me with the FDA. The doctor who worked with us at NCI suddenly went to the FDA. He became deputy commissioner of the FDA. We were the subject of numerous grand jury investigations, and finally, they wanted me to go to prison for life so that they could steal my invention.

Why is it that delusional, paranoid, egotistical, and megalomania are the words that spring to mind?
Never before have I read stuff from someone who is so far up himself he's in danger of choking.

I notice there is not peep about the patients for whom the treatment seems to be working or to have worked, e.g., Laura Hymas and Hannah Bradley. Why not?

Judith, could you please tell me what the survival rates, treatment regimes and cancer types were for Burzynski's patients as compared to those treated with standard oncological treatments? Thanks.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

Judith, regarding Hannah Bradley you are aware she underwent surgery for her cancer before becoming involved with Burzynski, right? According to the Team Hannah website ""The operation was a success and they managed to remove nearly all of the tumour." (bold for emphasis)

Despite thisl surgical intervention, however, you seem to be presuming that any success she's experiencing must be a result of antineoplaston treatment.

Why?

Judith: It's not that the scientific community is picking on Burzynski willy-nilly. When he first came to their attention in the 1990s, the NCI and others were interested in seeing what he had. He couldn't (wouldn't) pass scientific muster, using the same crazy tactics he uses today, and he has been professionally dismissed because of his own behavior: including refusal to show any results.

Can you (or he) showj definitively that his successes are not due to previous surgery or chemo, but to antineoplastins? Where are the results?

The entire scientific community is bound by rules and ethics, to protect against false claims. We all benefit from those rules. That's why there is a problem with Burzynski, who flouts them. If he were right, everyone would rejoice.

@Judith - To emphasize what's already been said, individual apparent successes or failures are not sufficient to prove the treatment is successful (or not). Discussion of individual cases provides a good, emotional face onto the situation. They don't prove anything in isolation.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

From a cancer patient perspective, it's shockingly tempting to believe in these kinds of things. Upon being diagnosed with cancer, our world is completely turned upside down and we're plunged into an entirely unfamiliar, overwhelming, and terrifying world that we have little or no experience with. We aren't doctors or scientists and we don't know who to believe. Doctors give us devastating news ("...you have cancer!) and describe the surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation they're planning, which scares us even more. We go looking for other options. Surely, there must be *something* easier, better, more natural, etc. that would work or help instead! We find ourselves online and join a cancer patient support forum, which offers us a huge sense of comfort, cameraderie, support, and helpful tips from other patients in a similar situation. Then we read about a miracle cure like this, and you can imagine how enticing it sounds, especially when it's coming from a fellow cancer patient (or so you think). We decide to look more into it, and see claims like this from Burzynski, and it's easy to see how we could fall victim:

"If we use medications like antineoplastons… we can get rid of every one of the cancer cells and they will never come back. We have patients who are now surviving over 20 years with incurable cancers and are perfectly free from cancer. "

Ack.

It's awfully convenient that Judith has forgotten a central point we've been making in our arguments for the whole time we've been dealing with her.

Anecdotes aren't good evidence. Cherry picking is a sign of and/or a cause of bias. Sometimes people get lucky, and it's other factors that are responsible for improvement and not the treatment. That's why we do blinded clinical studies with large numbers and compare against control groups. Why feign ignorance of this essential point, Judith?

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

Wow, talk about "making it up as you go along" - Orac, have you ever once set foot in the Burzynski clinic? have you met him? Have you met any of his patients? If you answered "no" to one or all of these questions—you are the biggest ignorant asshole of them all. Your readers are morons too. You know, if you call yourself a scientist, it would help "looking" at the science before blogging endlessly your cherry-picked propaganda. Anyone here also realize this guy is on the payroll of the National cancer Institute and worked for a NCI backed hospital? Put down your "Burzynski for Dummies" handbook, get on a plane, and see the fucking clinic for yourself, you fucking retard.

Has there ever been a "brave maverick" in any science who has produced a significant discovery that subsequently found its way into main-stream science? I mean specifically maverick-against-scientific-knowledge, not someone-against-religious-dogma.

Burzynski's propaganda, I suspect quite deliberately, gives the impression that his therapies repair genes and sends them forth to sin no more. The cancer goes away because the naughty genes have mended their ways. This would sit very well with the notion of fixing the root cause.
Is there such a thing as a "gene therapy" that truly acts on genes directly -"fixing" "broken" genes, or even directly destroying errant genes without destroying their environment
("...the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.")
?

@thenewme
I agree, people want so much to believe there's a cure available to them, they fall into the arms of anyone who will say they can cure them. Against all reason and all odds.

I think there's another vulnerability -- with some cancers, you can't be cured but you can keep going, sometimes for many years, using chemo to mitigate the disease and palliate the symptoms. At first glance that looks like a fate worse than death to the patient. But it's not. It's life; it's living with cancer. Burzynski's crazy chemo cocktails are worse than any chemo combination my doctor ever gave me, and they rob the patient of the months or years they might have had to lead comfortable, valuable lives. People feel they have "nothing to lose." If the patient is well enough to travel to Texas and walk into Burzynski's office, that patient does have a lot to lose, IMO.

How, pray tell, is it possible to destroy cancer cells without destroying other non-cancerous cells? Removing the mass may require removing some surrounding tissue or lymph nodes. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy may destroy other non-cancerous cells. Burczynski can't give these poor, last-hope patients his "magic" antineoplastons along with other chemotherapy and expect miracles. Some people attribute miracles to $deities$, and Burczynski certainly couldn't be considered one of those by anyone, living or dead. The only miracle here is that people are willing to give that fool money.

evilDoug -- I suppose that guy who figured out that heliobacter pylorii causes ulcers might qualify as "brave maverick". Others may know better than I.

Interestingly, one example that cranks love is Albert Einstein, who was famously working in a patent office when he had his miracle year in 1905. However, his discoveries were NOT rejected by the scientific establishment, but got traction very quickly. Also, his theory did not overturn all previous knowledge, but rather uncovered truths about the structure of physics that had eluded others (Maxwell's equations were already Lorentz-invariant, but no one had figured this out yet). He had an incredible knack for formulating his thoughts in the simplest possible manner, too, so his brilliance was apparent pretty much immediately.

I have a colleague who asserts that the crankosphere would be a very different place today if Einstein had been a University professor somewhere, because then he wouldn't have inspired so many of our "brave maverick" cranks today.

By palindrom (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Yodelady,
Yeah. Why subject ourselves to cut/burn/poison when we can just get an easy medicine from Dr. B that will fix those cancer cells right up without the bother of worrying about recurrence? I agree with you-I'd take all my chemo, surgeries, and rads over Burzynski's woo ANY DAY. It's tragic that real patients are conned into the "nothing to lose" crap.

@ bad poet:

There is something called "targeted therapy" that zeroes in on particular celluar activities- herceptin is an example used for breast cancer. There should be good general articles about these new developments.

I have unfortunately been reading a great deal about this recently because I have just learned that one of my myriad far-flung cousins has just been diagnosed with a particularly nasty cancer. You see, other family members use me as an information filter.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

Sonali Patil is a Burzynski research scientist with an interesting YouTube video discussing the Burzynski clinic goings-on. Of course she includes the requisite persecution conspiracies and maverick-ness, but the most interesting part is almost 6 minutes in, where she admits the Burzynski clinic is going about it backwards. She says most researchers do preclinical research first and then give it to patients, but they've been giving it to patients first and then they'll do the research! GAAAAHHH!

Again, I just can't fathom why the authorities allow this to happen. It's arrogance of ignorance at its very worst, and real patients continue to suffer. How is this okay?

@DeniceWalter,
So sorry to hear about your cousin! Your family is lucky to have you as an information filter. Wishing her the very best.

@ thenewme:

Thanks. It's a guy who has NSCLC; I used herceptin because it is one of the most familar examples .

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Denice,
Ah. Well then, I wish *him* the very best. Hopefully you'll be able to help fend off the woo-vultures he's likely to encounter. They're truly salt in the wound for us.

@KenDom

Here's a hint: Fluffy ad hominems don't work here. The point is that going to see only the patients who appeared to benefit while ignoring all those who didn't is cherry picking. We want results that aren't created through biased means like the one you propose, but through real research and statistical analysis of all the results, good and bad. We want Burzynski to publish the results of his clinical trials. The fact that he's been avoiding publication should raise your suspicions. Why doesn't it?

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

Why don’t these quacks ever invent a cure based on the consumption foie gras and Chateau Leoville-Las-Cases 2000?

Are you kidding? They have, but they keep it to themselves, just like Big pHARMa. The outward-facing enterprise is just to rake in the dough. No difference at all.

Wow, talk about “making it up as you go along” – Orac, have you ever once set foot in the Burzynski clinic? have you met him? Have you met any of his patients?

There's a famous line which I'm going to make even more pointed for you, Ken: one does not need to wait until one has consumed every last bite of an egg to know it's bad. Your idea that one can't judge Burzynski's science based on, y'know, the science, but must instead include such dubiously relevant factors such as what sort of personal impression Burzynski makes when you meet him, is even more ridiculous; it's like insisting that you can't tell if an egg is bad even by eating the whole egg, but must have a personal interview with the chef first.

You know, if you call yourself a scientist, it would help “looking” at the science

Funny; from what I'm seeing, Orac's the one discussing the science and you're the one trying to drag the subject onto irrelevancies such as "has Orac ever met Burzynski?" I notice you don't have any answer for "Why does Burzynski erroneously refer to herceptin as the first drug that works on the genes when it doesn't work on the genes? If he means 'works on a gene product' why does he refer to herceptin as the first when tamixofen preceded it?"

before blogging endlessly your cherry-picked propaganda.

No, "cherry-picked propaganda" is when Burzynski and his PR reps both paid and self-appointed take the cases of people who had tumor-removing surgery and then followed it up by Burzynski's "antineoplastons" and promote it as if it means that the positive outcome proves the antineoplastons did something; THAT'S cherry-picked propaganda.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

Your readers are morons too.

Before KenDom can call us morons, I believe that he is morally obligated to get on a plane and visit each of us face-to-face.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

Your readers are morons too.

You sound oddly similar to another recent commenter, FemDom ("Joe"? Not finding it.). I guess being completely ignored here didn't cut it.

Hey KenDom,

I am sure Orac and all his moronic readers would be delighted to read the science behind the brave maverick's lucrative enterprise. Would you show us said evidence? The man you are defending won't (or is it can't?).

Wow, talk about “making it up as you go along” – Orac, have you ever once set foot in the Burzynski clinic? have you met him? Have you met any of his patients? If you answered “no” to one or all of these questions—you are the biggest ignorant asshole of them all.

This, just by the by, is a variant of the magic three questions suggested by Merola in the movie "FAQ".

Hey There, KenDom,

You should know that everyone here is being way too polite to you. I can't post my response because it would be edited.

You should know that everyone here is being way too polite to you. I can’t post my response because it would be edited.

Nah, just held in moderation for a spell.
Do eet.

This, just by the by, is a variant of the magic three questions suggested by Merola in the movie “FAQ”.

Wouldn't you think Burzynski would have the wherewithal to get himself a better class of "PR" people. You'd think after the Mark Stephens fiasco ("snort my taint" is ingrained into my brain forever) he'd have learned a bit.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

JGC,

Hannah Bradley also had radiation post-surgery. But yeah, it was Stan.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

@ KenDom,

quote: you fucking retard

Who are you treating fucking retard?

Alain

Hey KenDom you effin' ignorant asshole retard...

I am an expert in my particular field. University degrees, 25 years professional experience, I have taught, and have a local reputation as an expert. If I read in one of my industry's trade journals an interview with someone else who does what I do, I can easily recognize truth from lies, and can tell if that person knows what he is talking about. I don't need to see his office, meet him or talk to his clients. I can judge by his own words in an interview if he's full of it or not.

That's what Orac was doing in this thread: a professional critique of an interview done by someone in the same line of business (well, sort of...) Orac is eminently qualified to recognize the truth from the lies in the "science" Burzynski himself discusses in the interview. There is nothing subjective here, and even if Orac and Stan were best friends Orac would still be able to recognize the good science from the bad.

What can you contribute to a discussion about the science in the interview?

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

Something tells me KenDom is like those big fat smelly annoying seagulls that drop turds and then fly away, never to be seen or heard from again. By the time you wipe yourself off, the big smelly bird is long gone.

At least people like Didy, Judith, Marge et al stick around to engage in discussion. They make an effort. KenDom just drops turds and flies off. A lazy, ignorant, asshole moron retard. And I never use the "r" word except in this very special case. I don't mean to seen insensitive but I am angry at the comments aimed at Orac and the lack of respect for his knowledge, experience and commitment. Call me anything you want, but Orac saves lives. KenDom is like pus here.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

@MSII - I know you're responding in kind, and I know I'll be accused of being a tone troll, but I'm informed that the term "retard" is not considered to be in good taste.

Otherwise, carry on.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

I realized that and felt horrible. I followed up with an explanation and apology. I never, ever use that word. I've chastised others for doing so. It was hypocritical of me, but I was so angry that I was being juvenile and turning KenDom's words back on himself (or herself).

Not that it makes it right, but KenDom used the word in his post, so I figured I throw it back in his face. Sorry everyone. Back to our regularly scheduled programme.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

Besides relieving his patients and their families of money by the truckload, Burzynski also seems at least sometimes to imbue these folks with his own arrogant disdain for the medical profession. Doing a spot of googling after Orac's last Burzynski post led me to the blog of a parent whose child was being treated with "antineoplaston therapy in a hospital away from Burzynski's clinic. It was easy to tell that the parents did not have a lot of medical knowledge; notwithstanding, they spent precious time arguing with their child's doctors and blogging very unfavorably about them. Sadly if predictably their child died.

To me, if you've persuaded someone to use your invention as part of a trial--I'm being generous about motive here--and that someone is working with actual professionals who are allowing the trial, you should play nice. Not arrogant.

Terri,

I think that disdain partially starts even before Burzynski enters the picture; it begins when "conventional medicine" gives a negative prognosis. That leads patients to Dr. B, who then reinforces the "us against them" mentality.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

Terri,

This is the same guy who said in an interview I posted somewhere else, "To hell with them" when commenting on why a reputable journal wouldn't publish one of his bogus studies.

Diplomacy is not in his vocabulary. "Listen your little brain" and "In three years maybe I'll win the Nobel Prize and you'll look like a shit" are two quotes from a 2008 Houston Press interview with a less-than-believing reporter.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

Terri,

From The New York Times in 1996:

Most researchers who find a promising treatment publish their results in a prestigious medical journal. Dr. Burzynski said he had submitted a paper to The New England Journal of Medicine, but that it had been rejected. “So to hell with them,” he said.

Dr. Burzynski said that as with Einstein and Pasteur, history will prove him right. Cures like his, he said, “have never happened before in medical history, so if The New England Journal of Medicine refuses to publish my paper, why should I waste my time with these fools?”

The F.D.A. has not approved antineoplastons because Dr. Burzynski has never completed clinical trials, controlled tests involving patients taking a new drug intended to prove whether a drug works and is safe.

Google the 2008 interview in the Houston Press to read the other glimpse into the deranged mind of a lone, brave, persecuted maverick doctor who "came to this country with only $15 in his pocket."
"

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

[off-topic]

Is it just me, but is Respectful Insolence returned—aka comments—showing stuff that's way out of date?

You need to post a comment (which you just did) to update your cookies. I have no idea why it happens but it always reverts to about two weeks ago if my computer crashes or I lose cookies. That's why you'll often see a comment that says "need a cookie please" or something similar.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Denice Walter
I'm sorry about your cousin's situation.

The "targeted therapies" are different from the old-style chemos, but they're not innocuous by any means. I'm being treated with Avastin in combination with an older chemo which is a topoisomerase inhibitor. My oncologist is thinking "out of the box" -- Avastin is not registered for my cancer, but it has gone through extensive testing for it. Many but not all oncologists are using it off-label, but cautiously.. Avastin can cause extremely high blood pressure, stroke, pulmonary embolisms, bowel perforations, fistulas, and internal bleeding. I'm monitored carefully.

Burzynski's combinations are something else again. In the Texas Medical Board's lawsuit, Burzinski was treating "Patient A" with capecitabine (an older chemo), phenylbutyrate (his antineoplastin precursor), and four "targeted" therapies -- erlotinib, dasatinib, verinostate, and sorafenib. I haven't been able to find out what dosages he was using, but that sounds like an awful lot of stuff.

A woman on a message board for my type of cancer reported Burzynski was giving her Avastin, Herceptin, Zolinza, Nexavar, and Sodium Phenylbutyrate simultaneously -- again all off-label. She believed she was nearly cured after two months. She continued on the treatments for about five months longer, remarked that she was having "horrible" gastrointestinal symptoms throughout that time, and then stopped posting. I doubt very much that she's alive.

That patient said instead of stopping one cancer pathway at a time, the strategy was to stop all of the cancer pathways at once. I see that there's an appealing logic to that. But the art of the oncologist is to damage the cancer without killing the patient, and that's a fine balance.

The only one of those drugs I'm familiar with personally is Avasitn. It prevents the growth of new capillaries. That slows the cancer down because to grow bigger, tumors need to attract a bigger blood supply. But it also prevents the body from growing the new capillaries it needs to heal wounds and to do things like grow new blood vessels near the heart if the major arteries start to narrow. There's real risk involved. If a bleed starts in the brain or the lung or if the bowel perforates, the Avastin interferes with the body's attempts to stop the damage. And Avastin has a half-life of about 20 days, so every treatment stays in the body for a long time. If my doctor suggested adding any other chemicals to the mix, I would sure be asking a lot of questions about how they would affect the things the healthy parts of my body need. I trust my oncologist to suggest these things only if she's quite sure she knows the answer to those questions.

Denice, I hope you've found the cancergrace.org website -- a group of mainstream oncologists there answer questions specifically about lung cancers. They're very generous with their information and talk a lot about how they balance treatment with the patient's quality of life and ability to tolerate specific side effects.

Best of luck to your cousin!

Marc Stephens Is Insane - Figured that out immediately afterwards! :-) Weird I haven't noticed before, but then maybe it's not an issue in some of the other browsers (I juggle between them for different tasks).

Yodelady,

Sounds like Richard Saunders might want to try visit cancergrace.org. Not sure he's still following comments at the older threads, but worth a try? (He wrote in comments a few days ago; Orac has since put up a post based around his comment.)

Wondering about the physicans who would work for Burzynski. The Burzynski site describes 4 Senior Physicians on staff. A quick google search shows Jose Valladares, MD, has 8 office locations; none of which are the Burzynski clinic:
http://www.vitals.com/doctors/Dr_Jose_L_Valladares.html.

The second, Zan Yi, is nowhere to be found on google or PubMed (Burz praises his many basic research papers). Maybe confusion with the Chinese name.

The third is Gregory Burzynski. Enough said.

The fourth is Alejandro A. Marquis, not an oncologist (family practice) who had a little trouble with the TMB himself in 2008, 2 years after joining Burz.
http://www.i-dineout.com/pages2008/tmb.2.15.08.html.

Grant,
Firefox just installed an inept update that wiped out my cookies, I suspect you suffered something similar.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 05 Dec 2012 #permalink

Dr. Burzynski said that as with Einstein and Pasteur

I hope Dr Burzynski has installed large doors for his office, his head may be too large for standard doors.

Both Einstein and Pasteur published their research.
Einstein's first public presentation of his ideas about the peculiar effects of gravity on space and light was indeed not well received, which, like any extraordinary scientific claim, is as it should, (although, according to a biography I read, the reactions of his German colleagues were tainted with antisemitism)
However, Einstein did propose a soon-to-come solar eclipse (IIRC) as a perfect opportunity for his colleagues to check on his theory on their own. Which they did.

Dr Burzynski, I knew Dr Louis Pasteur.
Dr Louis Pasteur was a friend.
You, sir, are no Dr Pasteur.

By Heliantus (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

Krebiozen,

My thinking too, but they might have to clear out cookies for some types of security updates (perhaps).

Heliantus,

I recall reading that Eddington championed Einstein's work, which would have helped too.

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.

What now?

I have no clues as to antibiotics and even this sounds wrong to me. It's also kind of a reverse 'argument from antiquity', as if to say "those guys over there are stuck in the dark ages and I'm not". All the while creating smoke and mirrors from the fact that he hasn't published anything recently and real scientists have.

I have been attacked by the Texas Medical Board for going overboard and using a logical, scientific approach toward treatment of the genes.

Or perhaps they and the rest of the world would appreciate some evidence that those medications work for those cancers, instead of just scatter-shotting your way and hoping you hit the target.

... Burzyinski is very good at playing the lone Galileo card. One wonders at what point he stopped keeping up with medical literature and new advancements. It seems like he was 'cutting edge' a few decades ago, and never managed to stay there.

His lawyers should teach him to keep himself out of the press though. By not saying anything, and not doing any marketing, he's made a fortune out of the human shield of his followers. By opening his mouth he continues to show he's deserving of criticism.

@Heliantus

He should be a politician.

Please don't give him any ideas.

@Sastra

“I used to think an ointment to clear up a foot rash should only be used on the foot — but it cleared up the rash on my arm, too! So I can understand how all those doctors for all those years were all getting it wrong about just treating the name of the cancer — like a “foot” cancer or a “breast” cancer.. And I can also see how Burzynski must have had one of those ah-ha moments, like I did, where you see there’s an underlying connection to things. It’s so good to be able to follow along like this.”

It's a very subtle nod to the concept that science isn't holistic. You can tell right away from the language he uses who he's promoting himself to: the noble warrior moms and freedom advocates, and people who like to go against the grain. He's saying "those mean doctors will only give you labels; I give you cures". No wonder his fans defend him, he indoctrinates them with how he portrays himself vs others.

@Judith

I notice there is not peep about the patients for whom the treatment seems to be working or to have worked, e.g., Laura Hymas and Hannah Bradley. Why not?

Perhaps, as has been explained ad naseum, because those are just anecdotes? Two people does not a good clinical trial make.

Where's your clinical trials of reiki, huh?

@dingo199

We were the subject of numerous grand jury investigations, and finally, they wanted me to go to prison for life so that they could steal my invention.

Why is it that the conspiracy is always trying to 'suppress the truth', up until they want to 'steal' the inventions? Sheesh, they need to make up their minds...

@Thenewme

Surely, there must be *something* easier, better, more natural, etc. that would work or help instead!

Whilst I kind of get this type of thinking, what worries me is that 'easier, better, more natural' is wanted, but 'proven to work better and is safer' isn't necessarily included in that least; let alone being put before the other two. The problem is that people overestimate their ability to judge what works, because they're not educated in medicine and presume their 'research' is good enough or equal to whatever a doctor can find out.

I don't like the steroid inhaler I'm currently on; but I prefer it to trying vitamins and sitting on my ass hoping it works.

@Kendom

Orac, have you ever once set foot in the Burzynski clinic? have you met him? Have you met any of his patients? If you answered “no” to one or all of these questions—you are the biggest ignorant asshole of them all. Your readers are morons too.

One doesn't need to walk into the clinic to read published results from his trials: unless of course, the only place those results are available to read are in his office, at which point it still shows that he's unwilling to publish them for peer review.

You know, if you call yourself a scientist, it would help “looking” at the science before blogging endlessly your cherry-picked propaganda.

And yet you post no links to this science. Quelle surprise!

Anyone here also realize this guy is on the payroll of the National cancer Institute and worked for a NCI backed hospital? Put down your “Burzynski for Dummies” handbook, get on a plane, and see the fucking clinic for yourself, you fucking retard.

Pharma shill gambit. Sigh... one wonders if Burzyinski offers a 'debate the critics' handbook. You all come up with the same boring crap.

Oh, and by the way, that was real convincing. No evidence AND ad hominems. Yep, that's really going to change people's minds. *rolls eyes

@HDB

Before KenDom can call us morons, I believe that he is morally obligated to get on a plane and visit each of us face-to-face.

Touche! (Hmm, need to learn the html to that accent...)

@Terri C

To me, if you’ve persuaded someone to use your invention as part of a trial–I’m being generous about motive here–and that someone is working with actual professionals who are allowing the trial, you should play nice. Not arrogant.

Having recently discovered via another thread and website many files on signing with Burzyinski for 'treatment', I believe that most of the parents/patients don't actually think they're part of a trial. B's clinic goes out of its way to gloss over the fact that antineoplastons aren't a new treatment, but very very experimental; they also gloss over the fact that treatments are part of a trial. I suspect that the arrogance is ignored because of this misconception, mainly created by the clinic's own antics. -- I also agree with MSII that the idea is already in their head and subtle language like the above interview reinforces it.

@Ism

Regarding the backgrounds of some of the other doctors, it's interesting that Burzyinski is practically throwing people under the bus, who also happen to be dubious themselves...

Burzynski comes off as fantastically defensive and arrogant in interviews. There was an interview in a Houston paper where he immodestly suggested he might be down of a Nobel prize in medicine without 3 years. That was 4 years ago.

Of course if he released actual evidence that proved beyond doubt and in a reproducible fashion that his treatment worked better than other treatments, or at all, he might actually get it. I don't think there is any fear of that.

What I find outright bizarre is how this man has managed to assemble a defence force. I don't know the mechanics behind cognitive dissonance but these are people who are asserting his treatment works seem to be experts at it.

- Asserting his treatment works but making excuses whenever people ask where the evidence is. They usually provide a link to some pitiful Youtube video.
- Railing against big pharma and its profits while defending a man who makes obscene profits.
- Proclaiming the man as a healer while he fails to disclose evidence which could see more lives saved through widespread adoption of his treatment.
- Railing against chemo and other drugs when Burzynski is really doing no different.

It goes on and on.

@ Yodelady:

Thanks for your kind wishes.
I actually have some knowledge about how the therapies work. In my cousin's case, it appears that he may be getting one of them already. However I am very pessimistic because he seems to be quite far along- diagnosed late in the game, possibly due to a physician not checking into symptoms earlier. At any rate, that disease often is not suspected until a late stage from what I understand. We'll see what happens.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

(Largely) off topic:

I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this, but we’ve had a case of a mother running off with child, in the UK to avoid him having treatment for cancer, in favour of “natural” therapies:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2243542/Neon-Luca-Roberts-Mothe…

Poor child. I suppose the mother thinks she wants the best for her child, like most of these kind of mothers do.

I don't understand why the newspaperarticle ends with a list of negative consequences of radiation therapy. I don't think this is doing any good.

(Completely unreleated) In the Netherlands a moviemaker did two documentaries about a mother and her son. The mother is into raw food and drags her son into this as well. According to doctors, the kid is undernourished. The mother now is homeschooling the boy, to avoid him getting in touch with food, she thinks is unhealthy.
I wonder

Judith,

I notice there is not peep about the patients for whom the treatment seems to be working or to have worked, e.g., Laura Hymas and Hannah Bradley. Why not?

I'm sure I have mentioned my mother-in-law here before. She was diagnosed with breast cancer but despite advice to the contrary she refused surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and would only consent to taking an estrogen-blocking drug. Instead she self-medicated with scotch and cigarettes. Her tumor shrank and disappeared and she is still alive, coming up for the third Christmas she wasn't expected to see (she has been under home hospice care all that time). Am I promoting whiskey and tobacco as miracle cures for cancer? Of course not. Do you understand why?

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

Renate,

I don’t understand why the newspaperarticle ends with a list of negative consequences of radiation therapy. I don’t think this is doing any good.

It's the Daily Mail, that's why. It's a notoriously unreliable source of information on health.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

Oh lookie lookie:

Some misguided fool has decided to make the Burzynski Clinic her "holiday charity of the year" and is trying to raise donations for Stan on Yelp:

Dr. Burzinsky has a cure for cancer! If you are interested keep, reading.
Every year I review a charity for holiday donations. This is a cancer clinic and they have a cure for cancer and need donations!
If you wait until you have enough you will never give! The Burzinsky clinic is in need of donations because insurance will not pay for the treatment! ...Burzynski had tried to get the FDA to review and approve antineoplastons since 1977, to no avail. To make sure he would not get into trouble for using the experimental therapy in his practice, his legal team confirmed that he was acting within the law and could use antineoplastons in his own practice "to meet the immediate needs of patients." But in the 1980s the Texas Medical Board (TMB) charged him with breaking a law that didn't actually exist and tried to revoke his medical license...The Burzynski cancer clinic operated with the approval of the FDA and was rather successful with a cancer remedy DR Burzinsky paid for with his own money! Nevertheless the clinic was raided several times and Dr Burzynski brought before four federal grand juries. Each time he was acquitted. A committee of the US Congress is investigating the FDA on charges of abusing the grand jury process in order to harass and persecute Dr Burzynski...I am not a fan of the FDA. They tried to shut down cherry farms! It is all about money with the FDA. They can't benefit from cherry farms and people with arthritis might get better so they wanted to shut down cherry farms of all things!...I found out about Dr. Burzinsky through friends in online cancer support groups who were cured by him and one has a grandson who was cured by him! There are blogs about him being a scam which I believe are set ups to sue him. The persecution of him is evil and something I can relate to because I went through something similar. I only saved the lives of 2 people but Dr Burzinsky has saved the lives of hundreds and has the potential to save the lives of millions in the future if his cancer cure was approved by the FDA and was used in hospitals treating cancer patients...
I wouldn't be surprised if he gets cancer from all the stress they are putting him through! I do believe stress from unjust persecution contributed to me getting cancer that and genetics. I won't make this review too long I want to get to the point. If you know someone who has an incurable cancer you have nothing to lose by looking into this clinic...
Because Dr. Burzinsky uses his own money the clinic needs donations.

Lots of links to Merola commercial and other woo sites.

http://www.yelp.ca/biz/burzynski-clinic-houston

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

The second, Zan Yi, is nowhere to be found on google or PubMed (Burz praises his many basic research papers). Maybe confusion with the Chinese name.

It's Zanhua.

Most people read one information or two and run with it as if their life depended on it. I dislike loud discourses as most people involved in it are the ones not too well informed. They may think they are. I read an average of 65 books a year. I read anything I can get my hands on as I always maintain that not looking at both sides of an equation makes for an incomplete view of anything. I also keep myself open to changing my mind over anything should I later find out new information to the contrary. So far, I am on the side of Dr. Burzynski , Dr. Simoncini, Nikola Tesla....and more. What we narrow-mindedly see as our only reality is not. Get a clue from the movie "Thrive". I used to give chemotherapy and take care of patients with radium implants. I regret it to this day. I saw the coldness of the medical practitioners I was involved with and was virtually helpless to do anything about a lot of things my heart was against. I also saw those who actually believed in what they were doing and were pouring their heart out in trying to help people, but everyone should wake up to the fact that the mainstream science which I think I wasted too much time studying, is not what it is made out to be. If you are too lazy to research this any further, you would be akin to a charlatan misinforming those around you. Most often these days, I bite my tongue. Everyone is sinking in disinformation for the benefit of the negative cabal who is controlling virtually everything in our lives. Our lives are changing soon enough and I am looking forward to letting out that big sigh of relief. What I would never be part of is the group bashing those who are trying to wake up the rest of us who are wallowing in ignorance. And yes....ignorance is not bliss.

By Cecille Chan (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

@MSII

Using the various state medical license lookup pages would be a better resource, I think. I have links to all 50 here. Zanhua Yi is licensed in Texas, with a practice address for the Burzynski Clinic.

From the WebMD page I linked to above:

Sheryll Acelar, MD , Internal Medicine
Shah Alam, MD , Internal Medicine
Gregory Burzynski, MD , Internal Medicine
Stanislaw Burzynski, MD , Internal Medicine , Medical Oncology
Lourdes Deleon, MD , Internal Medicine
Kathy Ford, ,
Armgan Khan, MD , Internal Medicine
Arslan Khan, MD , Internal Medicine
Muhammad Khan, MD , Internal Medicine
Eva Kubove, MD , Internal Medicine
Alejandro Marquis, MD , Internal Medicine
Madhavi Raju, , Medical Oncology
Tolib Rakhamov, MD , Internal Medicine
Anita Shrout, ,
Barbara Szymkowski, MD , Internal Medicine
Jose Valladares, MD , Internal Medicine , Medical Oncology

How can Stand call himself a "medical oncologist"? He has no training nor certification. Is there some legal or ethical prohibition behind this?

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

Also weird that Barbara Burzynski, Stan's wife, uses her maiden name Szymkowski on the listing. Is she trying to distance herself from the Burzynski name? :-)

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

If you are too lazy to research this any further, you would be akin to a charlatan misinforming those around you.

If you're on the side of Simoncini, you really don't want to be popping off about the research abilities of other people.

And yes….ignorance is not bliss.

Well then Cecille, you must be a long way from blissful.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

What happened to my italics? Cecille's quote should have been italicized...

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

I read anything I can get my hands on as I always maintain that not looking at both sides of an equation makes for an incomplete view of anything. I also keep myself open to changing my mind over anything should I later find out new information to the contrary.

You just described just about everyone here.

So far, I am on the side of Dr. Burzynski

Oh, good. Then perhaps you can post a link to some of Dr. Burzynski's published clinical trial results showing that his treatment regimen is at least as safe and effective as conventional treatment. None of the other Burzynski supporters has yet been able to do so. But you seem like a person who takes the time to really make sure of things before making a decision, so perhaps you can succeed where they have failed.

How about it?

Cecille Chan:

I read an average of 65 books a year. I read anything I can get my hands on as I always maintain that not looking at both sides of an equation makes for an incomplete view of anything.

Have you read The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee?

Isn't it fun to Google to names of the commenters who use their real names? Cecille is into David Icke, Area 51, Bill Maher the anti-science guy, anti-GMO, anti-Obama, etc.

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPVXSlLI-CJiiUgL_T1DTXg

She also posted this on the "Team Hannah" (Burzynski patient) YouTube page:
Dear Hannah,
My love around you. And thank you for spreading the word about Dr. Burzynski, a man who is trying to do a lot of good despite the rogue FDA being a thorn on his side.
Cecille Chan

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

So far, I am on the side of Dr. Burzynski ...

What exactly have you read that placed you on the side of Dr. Burzynski? Be specific.

In fact, let's make it as simple as possible: what do you believe to be the single most convincing piece of evidence arguing that antineoplastins are effective effective at treating advanced stage cancers?

Hanna,

So far, I am on the side of Dr. Burzynski , Dr. Simoncini, Nikola Tesla….and more.

Simoncini?! Simoncini is even less credible than Burzynski. How can anyone with a medical education take him seriously for a moment? You badly need to learn some critical thinking skills. Some people make terrible mistakes and end up believing nonsense, and others simply lie to line their own pockets. You need to be able to tell the nonsense from the truth, or you will end up in the first category (it looks like it may be too late).

As for Tesla, coming to a science blog and putting him in the same category as a couple of charlatans is simply asking for trouble.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

When I wrote "Hanna" I meant "Cecille", obviously.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

Anyone got any croutons for Cecille's word salad? Needs more crunch.

have you ever once set foot in the Burzynski clinic? have you met him? Have you met any of his patients? If you answered “no” to one or all of these questions—you are the biggest ignorant asshole of them all. Your readers are morons too.

I've never met the following people:

Rose West, Nicolai Ceaucescu, Mao Tze Dong, Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Beverley Allitt, Harold Shipman, Andrew Wakefield, Ken Ham, Rush Limbaugh, Professor Sir Roy Meadow, Jimmy Savile, George Osborne, Peter Tobin, Peter Sutcliffe, or Hulda Clark.

Are you honestly saying that we may not judge people we haven't met, regardless of the agony, fear, and death that they're responsible for?

I judge the hell out of every single person on my list. Every one. If that makes me a "moron" then I can live with that. I just wonder how much anoxia you suffered, in order to achieve such staggering mental prowess.

I mean, I have a fair bit of brain damage, I'm practically a Muppet, direct from the Creature Workshop, but you've taken the hollow head thing to new heights, haven't ya?

Cecille: "So far, I am on the side of Dr. Burzynski , Dr. Simoncini, Nikola Tesla….and more."

Cecille supports Burzynski - and in the same breath assures us she's on the side of Simoncini, a man who thinks "cancer is a fungus" and recommends bicarbonate to treat it.

While it's revelatory that Cecille apparently ranks both Burzynski and Simoncini as Brave Martyrs of the System, it is depressing that she apparently has or had a role in health care.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

That quoted bit was KenDim, btw.

I also saw those who actually believed in what they were doing and were pouring their heart out in trying to help people, but everyone should wake up to the fact that the mainstream science which I think I wasted too much time studying, is not what it is made out to be.

There needs to a rehab facility established to help people overcome being so fucking angry at people making comments which inevitably mislead unsuspecting, vulnerable and desperate patients into some fucking crooked quacks office to be medically raped, robbed and otherwise exploited.

Cecille,

MR. Simoncini is no longer a doctor. He does not have the right to call himself a doctor anywhere on the planet.

And he only escaped manslaughter charges on an Italian court technicality, which to this day I still don't understand.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

Cecille,

Can you explain how Simoncini can be correct that "cancer is fungus" and Burzynski also be treating cancer effectively, as he does not claim to treat a fungal infection? How can you be on the side of both?

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

That's what I don't understand about people who read Suzanne Somers' book, for example. She showcases a number of cancer quacks (including, and most prominently Stan) who all have conflicting "theories" and modalities of treatment per those theories. How can they all be correct? Does anyone ever question that?

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

And he only escaped manslaughter charges on an Italian court technicality, which to this day I still don’t understand.

Oh, no, he was convicted and sentenced, but he didn't have to serve the sentence by virtue of Italy's 2006 general clemency.

Oh, that's even better. I knew he escaped on some technicality. So he has no criminal record, the lucky bastard?

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

So he has no criminal record, the lucky bastard?

No, the conviction stands. They just needed to free up prison space.

So it's convicted criminal Mr. Simoncini.

Ex-cel-lent.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

flip:

You wrote: ‘Touche! (Hmm, need to learn the html to that accent…)’

It's not HTML, but a Unicode character - you should just be able to type it at the keyboard. On a Mac option-e followed by 'e' gives me: é

Cecille,

Your post is so choc a bloc full of air-headed conspiracy theories melded with vacuous crap that it is hard to make any sense of it. The one thing it DOES have in spades is to be totally fact and evidence free.

You may have well just posted :
"Saint Burzynski = good. Baelzebub Big Pharma = bad"............................... because you have a bad case of religion there sister. Faith without evidence.

Cecille Chan,

You wrote: ‘I read an average of 65 books a year.’

Leaving aside that what those books are would matters (you'd want them to be textbooks, not novels, thrillers, etc!) some of us read a lot of scientific papers.

A problem with book is that they're not peer-reviewed so they have a mix of the truly awful and relatively few really good works.

Chris suggested earlier The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

My own choice of book is The biology of cancer by Robert Weinberg. My copy is now a few years old (2007) - there is likely to be a newer edition out now. My copy come with a DVD and a poster, too.

flip: should add, there are HTML character entities for the various accented characters, but my experience is that blog comment form processing tends to strip those out. The again, I'm just lazy and just type the things in from the keyboard :-)

So it’s convicted criminal Mr. Simoncini.

He has left a trail of blood across Europe. Unlike Burzynski he doesn't only prey on terminal cancer patients, but persuades people who stand a very good chance of being treated successfully to reject conventional treatment. There used to be a hidden camera video on YouTube of Simoncini illegally diagnosing and agreeing to treat a man's prostate cancer, and giving a discount if the patient didn't demand a receipt for the cash, just like a dodgy used car salesman. Unfortunately the video is no longer available.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

AND...since Burzynski uses conventional meds, some of his patients have a fighting chance. Baking soda, on the other hand, is useless and dangerous.

NOT defending Stan in any way, shape or form, but I agree there's a world of difference in practice between what Tulio did (does?) and what Stan does. They're both equally evil though, driven by greed and ego.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

@MSII

Some misguided fool has decided to make the Burzynski Clinic her “holiday charity of the year” and is trying to raise donations for Stan on Yelp:

It's a wonder that the the person didn't ask Burzyinksi to sell his multi-million dollar home. I guess his money is not allowed.

To make sure he would not get into trouble for using the experimental therapy in his practice, his legal team confirmed that he was acting within the law and could use antineoplastons in his own practice “to meet the immediate needs of patients.”

I doubt his lawyers are that stupid. He has a good knack of walking a fine balance of being just within the law, and yet not quite enough.

The Burzynski cancer clinic operated with the approval of the FDA and was rather successful with a cancer remedy DR Burzinsky paid for with his own money!

Mm, yeah the money he takes from the people who aren't supposed to pay for being in clinical trials.

They can’t benefit from cherry farms and people with arthritis might get better so they wanted to shut down cherry farms of all things!

The woo is strong with this one.

I only saved the lives of 2 people but Dr Burzinsky has saved the lives of hundreds and has the potential to save the lives of millions in the future if his cancer cure was approved by the FDA and was used in hospitals treating cancer patients…

Pity there's no actual verifiable evidence of this.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets cancer from all the stress they are putting him through!

Ah, of course - the 'stress causes disease' proponents fit right in with Burzyinski's claims and vagueness.

If you know someone who has an incurable cancer you have nothing to lose by looking into this clinic…

Aptly reflecting the "nothing to lose" comments previously made on this site.

By the way, isn't Yelp a review site? Couldn't people go and respond by posting 'reviews' in the form of links to newspapers of patient deaths?

@Cecille Chan

So basically your assessment is "be open minded because postmodernism"? Or "read everything, but ignore the absence of evidence and side with the guy who has a baseless assertion"? Or "a movie is absolutely 100% representative of life"?

Perhaps it is "I don't care that the guy is charging heaps of money for participation in clinical trials".

The rest is just logical fallacy twaddle about Big Pharma conspiracies. Yawn...

@Elburto

I’m practically a Muppet, direct from the Creature Workshop

Muppets are from the Jim Henson Company, the Creature Workshop made/makes animatronics and non-muppety things. /end pedant

@Dangerous Bacon

While it’s revelatory that Cecille apparently ranks both Burzynski and Simoncini as Brave Martyrs of the System, it is depressing that she apparently has or had a role in health care.

From the way she phrased it, I would guess that she has made up her mind based on old treatments that were used at the time, and assumes that the treatments have no improved since then.

@Grant

flip: should add, there are HTML character entities for the various accented characters, but my experience is that blog comment form processing tends to strip those out. The again, I’m just lazy and just type the things in from the keyboard

I was literally just about to correct you. At the time I posted my comment I couldn't be bothered finding the html code for it, although I do have a cheat sheet bookmarked. Let's see if this works: é
I use a PC anyway, so keyboard's not an option.

I only saved the lives of 2 people but Dr Burzinsky has saved the lives of hundreds and has the potential to save the lives of millions in the future if his cancer cure was approved by the FDA and was used in hospitals treating cancer patients…

Of course, the reason that the FDA can't even consider whether or not it chould approve Burzynski's 'cancer cure' for use in hopsital's treating cancer patients is because he refuses to release the results of any of the clinical trials he's supposedly been conducting for the past couple of decades.

Using the html &#233 with a semi-colon on the end works fine for creating accented characters.

Where did Didy and KenDom go? Did they realize they were out their league? Nothing intelligent to post?

Crickets...

I was looking forward to seeing some of their responses to some of our responses. I made popcorn.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

Flip, I may come away from this mit Fuß in mouth, but on many blogs all you have to do is insert the appropriate character (in Windows, use Character Map, usually in System Tools)

Oh, bébé, it is über easy. Þ

The comment about should contain an eszet, e with accent acute, u with umlaut and a thorne. Or the accents may be dumped.

Everything looks OK on my computer. Others?

Elihphile:
Largely) off topic:

I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this, but we’ve had a case of a mother running off with child, in the UK to avoid him having treatment for cancer, in favour of “natural” therapies.
Not surprised; we've had at least two cases in the States like that. Both involved leukemia. One was a mother kidnapping her daughter in Arizona- just this week. The other one was a teenage boy from MN who was also kidnapped by his mother. That happened a couple of years ago- I forgot what happened to him. The mother and daughter are still on the run, as far as I know.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

Politicalguineapig, Activists are using the excuse of 'parental rights' to enforce their religious conservative right wing values onto the rest of society, all under the guise of parental and constitutional rights. They are trying to take as much power as possible away from the United States federal government and give it to the individual states. It is in this manner that the same activists (constitutional lawyers, alternative medicine doctors) are attempting to pass the health freedom laws. Health freedom, religious freedom, parental rights, but all in attempt to force others into their factions - the opposite of freedom.

http://www.parentalrights.org/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={C9F22266-3A2E-4BBE-A087-BFD53580E2F9}

I was so glad that Michigan’s Parental Rights Law of 1994 (that I had a hand in writing) was on the books when I was litigating for the Stieler family who were being prosecuted because they dared to make independent medical decisions for their son, Jacob.

About that quote regarding Jacob, that stunt by the Parental Right's activists totally backfired for Jacob. Orac blogged about Jacob a long time ago. May I mention again that Orac was right and the parental rights activists were wrong, again.

Here's one follow-up story about Jacob. The parental rights lawyers conveniently forgot to mention that Jacob's cancer returned, and they should have followed the advice of the medical experts, just as Orac stated. Eventually, they had to drop their 'landmark' case; it was no success for them and their misguided antics will likely prove fatal for innocent Jacob. They neglected to adequately treat his cancer against medical advise, and it has returned.

Renate: The mother is into raw food and drags her son into this as well. According to doctors, the kid is undernourished. The mother now is homeschooling the boy, to avoid him getting in touch with food, she thinks is unhealthy.

@Renate, The parental rights activists are the same group as the Home School Legal Defense Association activists. Constitutional lawyer, extreme right wing religious activist Michael Farris was Jacob's attorney. Farris is now trying to stop the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, because he believes that the treaty is incompatible with American constitutional law.

That should read advice, not advise.

That should read advice, not advise.

That correction of word usage is for my comment being held for review. This should make sense once the comments are released.

@EvilDoug, it's beautiful! I never new the names of those characters.

You çan dø speciål charactërs on ÿour Android phoñe, too.

Simoncini?! Simoncini is even less credible than Burzynski. How can anyone with a medical education take him seriously for a moment?

I take it you haven't heard of the Patriot Nurse?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

In continuing my comment from above, the same political action committees and organizations alleging to defend parental rights, which include ParentalRights.org and the Home School Legal Defense Association, are also supporting the anti-vaccine movement. Right-wing religious conservative constitutional lawyer Michael Farris is featured on the Natural News "Constitutional Literacy Series". http://programs.naturalnews.com/Constitutional_Literacy_Complete_25-Par…

S: Perhaps you misunderstood me. I support neither case; I stated that I wasn't surprised because I have a very low opinion of my fellow humans.I do remember the Jacob case, but the one I was referring to involved a fifteen-year-old, who was also illiterate due to bad homeschooling/parental idiocy. I can't really get behind blanket bans on homeschooling, because sometimes it's neccessary because of learning difficulties (which are rarely addressed in public school) or bullying, or both. Sadly, in most cases it's a way to isolate a child from the world or as a way to hide abuse.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

Everything looks OK on my computer. Others?

If you want to be thorough, a lynx 2.8.7rel.1 test failed on the uppercase thorn and Esszet, although this is probably a matter of what the terminal knew what to do with. Not that ISO 8859-1 was well considered in the first place, mind you.

It appears that your doctor’s drug salesman now has a first amendment right to sell him or her drugs for off-label uses never proven by double-blind studies.

Did you just totally miss the fact that the most recent blog entry is on this very topic? Do you have anything intelligent to say about it?

Actually, let me be more succinct, Marg: Would you happily subject your energy-healing magic to the same standard that you are now ignorantly carping about laxity in?

@Marg

Yet another tour of distractions away from the fact that MARG, the contemptible purse-snatcher of science, HAS NO EVIDENCE THAT ENERGY HEALING WORKS.

Your tu quoque was fun for the first 2000 comments, but now it's just old hat. Come back when you've completed your clinical trial into energy healing. Not that you will, because you certainly don't seem to give a rats about anything other than logical fallacies, postmodernism and circular arguments.

@evilDoug

Yes, I could copy and paste the character too... either way it would have required me to find the character, and at that moment I couldn't be bothered.

The characters you posted looked fine to me.

Politicalguineapig

I can’t really get behind blanket bans on homeschooling, because sometimes it’s necessary because of learning difficulties (which are rarely addressed in public school)

I'm sorry, but how are parents who have absolutely no training in education or child development even going to recognize that their homeschool-ee has a learning difficulty? The public schools are much better at identifying those cases and getting children the help they need than you seem to believe.

MESSAGE BEGINS-------------------------

Shills and Minions,

I'm taking a moment away from the task of getting the new PharmaCOM digs set up here on Mars. Actually we've taken over the old Fifth Invader Force Base and Implant Station and let me tell you, some Brunschwig wall coverings and some Thassos Marble can make even dreary Marcabian penal colonies feel homey, but I digress . . .

What's all this I'm hearing about cherries? Do they do something "natural" or "healing" that might interfere with our profits and campaign of planetary subjugation? The hive queen of the Kthraakxx eats them by the kilogram, but, of course, she's a bug. We prefer delicacies of a . . . meatier nature. In any case, do let me know what's up with the whole prunus avium thing.

And now onto other business: Obsidian Team 7, you are to pick up and "handle" the dreaded rebel Cecille Chan at once. She clearly knows too much about us and our nefarious cabal of off-worlders, as well as the identities of our human turncoats. She has seen Thrive and now knows about our Sooper Seekrit™ Power Torus©® Thingy that we keep locked away with the Sooper Seekrit™ Kancer Kure-all. These two simple, clean and natural devices would turn your world into a magical fairyland of pure bliss and hand holding almost overnight (except for your troublesome chimp DNA and the whole Malthus thing).

Shills and Minions, this must not occur! Our profits depend on our pharmaceuticals being dispensed and consumed, thereby creating an army of drooling, subservient monkeys to do our evil bidding! Our terraforming depends on pumping ever more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere to warm the planet so that we can live on this rock without heat lamps (those things cost a fortune to run).

So continue your mockery and disinformation campaign against Burzikini, but let's look into this cherry business as well, and by K'throbey's ventral spines, get that Chan woman under control, she's done enough damage for now!

Stay evil, my Minions, stay evil . . .

Lord Draconis Zeneca, VH7ihL
Foreward Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Grand Vitara of Hapatcong, Still Doesn't "Get" Cheese

Glaxxon PharmaCOM Cydonia Planitia
00000011101011010101110101010011001010101011

--------------------------------MESSAGE ENDS

By Glaxxon Pharma… (not verified) on 06 Dec 2012 #permalink

To hell in a handbasket, children; to hell in a handbasket. That’s where medicine is headed. - the blatherer's blatherer

Why you call us children? You promote childish ideas and foolish nostrums as solution to real world problem using arguments any mature six year old can see through.

By al kimeea (not verified) on 07 Dec 2012 #permalink

"What I would never be part of is the group bashing those who are trying to wake up [b] the rest of us who are wallowing in ignorance."[/b]

You certainly are...

To Hell in an energy basket! #morons

By Mark McAndrew (not verified) on 07 Dec 2012 #permalink

Since you missed it, Marg: Big Pharma wins a battle on off-label prescribing, posted right here with a lot of regular commentators being worried about the consequences alongside Orac.

And you don't even realize that I consider you to be on the same side as Big Pharma in this. Try using your brain, not the guru's playbook, to guess why.

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 07 Dec 2012 #permalink

I notice that Cecille writes:

Our lives are changing soon enough and I am looking forward to letting out that big sigh of relief.

Oh yes, of course, December 2012 is upon us, and (as the eternal cry goes) salvation is just around the corner. With luck Cecille will be one of those enlightened ones who, any day now, will let out that big sigh of relief as they dematerialize, are picked up in a spaceship, are physically taken up to heaven in The Rapture or whatever.

How foolish we will all feel when January comes along and all the True Believers have disappeared. What a sad world it will be, populated solely by people who don't believe in idiotic nonsense. [/sarcasm]

Sadly the True Believers will still be with us in 2013, like it or not. [/realism]

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 07 Dec 2012 #permalink

Don't you know, @Krebiozen, that it's supposed to be a dimensional shift, and that if you don't notice anything changing, it just means you missed it?

@Narad
Orac doesn't seem to like this ruling much either.

@Bronze Dog
Well, I guess energy healers now also have free speech rights that trump the FDA. Is that what you are getting at?

It appears that your doctor’s drug salesman now has a first amendment right to sell him or her drugs for off-label uses never proven by double-blind studies.

So your position is that people should not be allowed to promote and/or sell a medical intervention for an illness or injury unless double blind studies have shown it can effectively treat that ilness or injury?

Wonderful! I trust that having arrived at this position you've immediately ceased promoting or providing energy healing treatments to anyone, for anything, until such time as double blinded studies demonstrate efficacy.

What? You haven't....?.

Marg,

Don’t you know, @Krebiozen, that it’s supposed to be a dimensional shift, and that if you don’t notice anything changing, it just means you missed it?

Since you are conversant in these matters, and rub shoulders with physicists, perhaps you could explain precisely what "a dimensional shift" actually is supposed to be. Is it another one of those mysterious things that cannot be detected by science?

You would think some scientists would have noticed a dimensional shift (whatever it is). Wouldn't it interfere with particle accelerators or something? Is that what has happened when I perceive the world as being somehow flat? I was attributing that to seasonal affective disorder.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 07 Dec 2012 #permalink

Actually, we've got dimensional shifts around here ALL the time- you just have to be *sensitive* to notice it.

Everybody, c'mon- sing along with Mr Newman:
"Oh, it's lonely at the top."

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 07 Dec 2012 #permalink

Well, I guess energy healers now also have free speech rights that trump the FDA.

Did you even try to imbue this collection of words with some sort of semantic payload? If you want to say incredibly stupid things about Caronia, go do it in the freaking comments about Caronia.

Wouldn’t it interfere with particle accelerators or something?

Clocks will run backwards when viewed in a mirror if you hold a 9 V battery to your tongue, I'm pretty sure.

"Supposed to be a dimensional shift", Marg? Supposed by whom exactly, and for what reason?

“Supposed to be a dimensional shift”, Marg? Supposed by whom exactly, and for what reason?

It's string theory, man. And people say that it makes no testable predictions. Sheesh. Anybody who can channel healing energy from the Multiverse knows better, let me tell you.

String theory, huh? Me, I'm still tangled up in blue.

Chemmomo: In my experience, public schools are balls at identifying learning disabilities and providing help for same. And bullying? Do not get me started on the half-assed policies that dominate the schools. The only thing I learned at public school from the ages of five to eight was how to underperform and lie so the pack animals masquerading as my classmates would leave me alone. I learned more at home during that time then I ever did at school, thanks to geography games, a library card, and a copious collection of books. I do support the public schools, but I recognize that in America, they will always be a flawed system and they will fail many children. But that's what the public wants.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 07 Dec 2012 #permalink

Marg, it's simple. Quacks depend on medical regulations being too weak to protect consumers from fraud and malpractice. Anything that weakens regulation for pharmaceutical companies is going to provide the same benefit to alties as well as shift the culture towards more quack-friendliness.

If pharmaceutical companies don't need to prove their product is beneficial for a particular medical condition in order to advertise the product for that medical condition, what incentive does anyone have for seeking approval for any condition? What incentive do they have for proving their product is safe and effective?

I have no interest in living in Rapture from Bioshock.

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 07 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Bronze Dog
So do the pharmaceutical companies. They count far more on regulations being too weak to protect consumers than the alt-med folks do.

Don’t you know, @Krebiozen, that it’s supposed to be a dimensional shift, and that if you don’t notice anything changing, it just means you missed it?

Left behind by the Rapture. AGAIN.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 07 Dec 2012 #permalink

Anything that weakens regulation for pharmaceutical companies is going to provide the same benefit to alties as well as shift the culture towards more quack-friendliness.

Well, except for Marg's favored modality, which is subject to the same regulation as before: unlicensed practice of medicine. Whether she is actually so thick as to think this decision somehow lends legitimacy to her own hornswaggling, I've yet to fathom. Perhaps she should petition the FDA to have "magic hands" regulated as Class III medical devices.

@Denice Walter
Generally I find things like pens, half pairs of socks, and the occasional key or pair of glasses disappearing into dimensional shifts. Sometimes they even return.

@ herr doktor bimler:

I am very glad to be left behind again: all of the interesting people are here.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 07 Dec 2012 #permalink

She's already given a cultural free pass, and from my point of view, adding more free passes to the world will make it harder to get hers rescinded.

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 07 Dec 2012 #permalink

And bullying? Do not get me started on the half-assed policies that dominate the schools.

Speaking of bullying tactics at school, the same Michael Farris as mentioned above, who is a leader in the home school, parental rights, religious freedom, and now the health freedom movement seems to think that freedom only applies to his actions, and not that of his students. He attempted to sue bloggers who opposed his views under the guise of breach of copyright. The bloggers being his own students!

http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/12/patrick-henry-gay-queer-farris.html

By Not a Farris Fan (not verified) on 07 Dec 2012 #permalink

When I first saw the teaser for this story about a little girl with DIPG whose parents were taking an "unconventional" approach, I was afraid I was going to read another story about Burzynski. Instead, this is completely the opposite of what I expected. It's a heartbreaking story but worth reading. Basically, the parents are making the maximum of the little time the girl has left, andthey're not fighting anything.

It's part one of three, so I'll follow the other two parts to see if the parents were ever tempted or lured by woo.

Surprisingly, in the few comments posted so far no one has suggested any kind of alternative therapy or criticized them for stopping any further attempts at treatment. I'm sure those will pop up as the story ages.

Have some Kleenex ready:

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/1298845--given-3-months-to-live…

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 07 Dec 2012 #permalink

Thanks to Marc.

A lovely story and unusually, well written by a journalist.

Cath Ennis on the subject of cancer conspiracies over at the Guardian:

Some entertaining nutcases emerging from the woodwork in the comment thread there. "It is unfair to call us Conspiracy Theorists just because we have a theory about a conspiracy!"

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 07 Dec 2012 #permalink

hdb,

“It is unfair to call us Conspiracy Theorists just because we have a theory about a conspiracy!”

Isn't that priceless :-)

Grant -- I was recently informed that the fact that there are no reported deaths among seniors from vaccine-induced influenza is proof that flu vaccines are giving seniors fatal cases of flu. 'Strewth.

I paraphrase. The actual complaint was that the author was using the hateful phrase "smear your detractors".

Within the comment thread there is also agitation that the author's failure to mention the Curcumin cure made her part of the conspiracy to suppress it, and that she is part of the conspiracy to promote the HPV vaccine, and P.S. we are not conspiracy theorists.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 07 Dec 2012 #permalink

Feck. Should read using the hateful phrase to “smear your detractors”.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 07 Dec 2012 #permalink

Within the comment thread there is also agitation that the author’s failure to mention the Curcumin cure made her part of the conspiracy to suppress it

Hell, one of my mom's doctors (whether primary or oncologist I don't recall) was perfectly willing to suggest curcumin when she tried pressing for dietary adjuncts to her actual treatment, which she's mostly compliant with. I remained far calmer in explaining the quantity issue on this one than when she mentioned Suzanne Somers's volume.

Hilariously, I've heard lots about curcumin as a cancer cure or preventive, courtesy of Gary Null. He even goes as far as to suggest that people who consume spices ( curcumin, cayenne, ginger) heavily have much lower rates of cancer. He used to sell 1 g capsules of the stuff at his web store.

Now I might be a bit premature but I suspect that if this were true, we'd already see lower rates in certain countries vs others based on diet. Somehow I think that this is not the only factor involved.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 07 Dec 2012 #permalink

Politicalguineapig

In my experience, public schools are balls at identifying learning disabilities and providing help for same. And bullying? Do not get me started on the half-assed policies that dominate the schools.

I’m basing my comments on many conversations I’ve had with multiple individuals in several different US states, some of whom are public school teachers, including specialists in (for lack of a better yet still simple term) special ed — not my own personal experiences. That’s my bias: I know people who do/did this (teach!) for a living. I also know people involved, past and present, in home schooling.

There’s no doubt that bullying continues to be a problem at just about any at any school, but that’s not the subject of my question to you.

Would you care to look beyond your own experience and explain to me why you would suggest home schooling parents would be better at identifying and dealing with learning disabilities than the trained public school teachers who failed you?

Now, as a former denizen of Wooville, I am well versed in "dimensional shifts" that never actually happen. This failure to materialize, of course, requires re-setting the goalposts of said shift and then shifting them when said shift takes a shit and doesn't show. It's akin to the alties who make big claims about energy healing, but whenever the Evil Cold Scientists™ try to test them they invariably fail because of "negative vibrations" from the aforementioned ECSs make it impossible for them to perform. What you get is more hand waving and wishful word salad from the Axis of Me-ville.™

Marg, you've got to know, deep down that this stuff doesn't work. I've been there, I know the mental gymnastics it takes to keep the rainbows shiny and unicorns fed while reason and logic are hog tied and locked in the basement. The problem was that pesky kernel of reality that I always tried to cover up with positive thoughts and confirmation bias (those blinders are so uncomfortable). The damn thing just wouldn't go away, and the whole, "how can I be right and 99.99% of the scientists in the world be wrong" thing lurked in the shadows just beyond the flickering circle of pink fairyglow. How do you deal with that one? What mental gymnastics do you find keeps reality at bay most effectively? For me it was selective avoidance, a habit I still have to watch out for, even without magical thinking.

By Pareidolius (not verified) on 07 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Pariodoloius
Sorry, luv, but deep down I do know that the stuff does work. And there are scientists out there who agree. No mental gymnastics are necessary. The ones doing the mental gymnastics are your lot.

Here is the Mayo clinic on curcumin:

"Laboratory and animal research suggests that curcumin may prevent cancer, slow the spread of cancer, make chemotherapy more effective and protect healthy cells from damage by radiation therapy. Curcumin is being studied for use in many types of cancer.

Studies of curcumin in people are still in the early stages. Clinical trials are under way to investigate curcumin as a way to prevent cancer in people with precancerous conditions, as a cancer treatment, and as a remedy for signs and symptoms caused by cancer treatments.

Research is ongoing, and there isn't enough evidence to recommend curcumin at this time. As always, talk with your doctor before using any herbal supplement."

They can't recommend it because there haven't been human studies, but it does look promising, does it not?

Marg,

Name them, please.

Thanks.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Chemmomo,

Would parents be better at identifying learning disabilities? Probably not. Would they be better at dealing with them? Perhaps, depending on the nature of the disability.

Home schooling can provide more individualized instruction than a standard classroom setting, making sure to keep the student's attention. The structure of the lesson can be as rigid or flexible as needed. The points of the lesson can be repeated (with additional examples if appropriate) as needed to ensure that the one pupil understands the material. The student would not be distracted by the other students in the class, and would not serve as a distraction to the class as a whole. They can also access technology on demand that might help with learning.

Of course, a professional teacher in a one-on-one (or one to few) basis would likely do better. However, this becomes a question of affordability. Given a choice of an affordable classroom setting, affordable home schooling, or unaffordable private tutoring, home schooling performed by the parents might provide better results.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

All the scientists involved in the SSE, which you guys love to slag. http://www.scientificexploration.org/about_sse.html Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see all the PhDs involved in the running of this organization. Also, scientists involved in the Noetic Institute, the scientists interviewed in What the Bleep Do We Know, and the scientists Lynn McTaggart writes about in The Field.

And now see this recent announcement from the American Psychological Association, of particular interest to @Denice Walter:

http://acepblog.org/2012/11/19/apa-approves-acep-to-provide-ce-credits-…

Marg,

Curcumin may have potential against cancer, but the concentrations that have been shown to have benefits are much higher than those achievable using turmeric as a spice, and higher than those achievable taking curcumin itself. Curcumin comprises approximately 2-5% of turmeric.

Curcumin is very poorly absorbed from the gut, and doses of as much as 2 grams of curcumin (equivalent to 40-100 grams turmeric) result in very low levels in the blood. If given with bioperine, which inhibits metabolism of curcumin in the intestinal wall, absorption is greater. Doses of 30 mg/kg (2.1 grams in a 70 kg person) with bioperine in humans produced maximal serum concentrations of 0.2 µg/ml.

One study in mice reported that the concentrations of curcumin that induced apoptosis in cancer cells was in the region of 25 micromolar. The molecular mass of curcumin is 368.38 g/mol, so 25 µmol is about 9.2 µg/ml. This is more than 40 times higher than the peak serum concentration achieved after ingestion of about 2 grams of curcumin with bioperine.

Another study reported that 4 µg/ml curcumin induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in human osteosarcoma cells. This is 20 times higher than the peak serum concentration achieved after ingestion of about 2 grams of curcumin with bioperine.

It seems unlikely that it is possible to achieve therapeutic levels of curcumin by ingestion, and even if you could, we have no idea what the adverse effects of this might be.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

I thought hand waving was all you needed.

Marg,

All the scientists involved in the SSE, which you guys love to slag.

Personally I love the SSE, it ranges from fascinating to hilarious to infuriating; I have read almost all the on-line issues of Edge Science, and enjoyed them in the same way I enjoy Medical Hypotheses, or Fortean Times.

However I do remember to turn my suspended disbelief back on afterwards, and reexamine what I have read with a critical eye. Please don't mistake SSE for a serious scientific society; it isn't.

When I looked for SSE articles by people who believe in energy healing, the first name I found was Daniel P. Wirth, a convicted fraudster and all round dodgy character. You couldn't find a less reliable source of information if you tried.

Then there's Bengston, who we have discussed ad nauseam, and a paper by some Dutch authors which looked at rats with cancer which had to really squeeze the data to find anything even barely statistically significant.

There's also Bruce Greyson's 'Distance Healing of Patients With Major Depression' which found no statistically significant results at all, which doesn't stop him from commenting on how "favorable outcomes were significantly correlated with number of healing sessions received and with healers' ratings of the "strength" of the healing sessions".

At this point I gave up. This is very thin gruel indeed to support the claim that there are any serious, reputable scientists who believe in energy healing.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

Seriously Marg: credits are not a measure of reality. Nurses can get them for woo IIRC, EBCALA gives them to lawyers for vaccines-cause-autism courses and I'm sure that Orac and other physicians can fill us in about what nonsense available for them.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

Why do none of these arcane, magical essences of nature I keep hearing about- year in, year out - ever seem to pan out?

A few examples:
I've been hearing about curcumin for many years YET has it ever been transformed into a SBM cancer treatment? Similarly, reishi ( as well as other mushrooms- turkey tail, meitake, shitake), cited by commenter PRN here- where has that gone? Yet these elixirs of life have acquired a reputation by continuous repetition and dispersal throughout woo-world. Gary Null often recites their merits; I have a mid-1990s encyclopaedia of woo ( written by an ND)
that talks of their great promise. There is also- supposedly- an alternative arthritis treatment that alleviates pain/ restores damged tissue without pharmaceuticals based upon red fruit ( especially cherries).

These are promises that are never delivered- like Dr B's cancer cure. They're enough to keep hope alive for consumers who are wishing for an alternative to reality-based treatments which can be harsh, uncomfortable and NOT 100% guaranteed.

Promises of a nature-based treatment for a serious illness suggests that paradigm-shift ( is that a sort of dimensuonal shift, I wonder?) is on its way: you can be ahead of others by stocking up NOW on books, videos and highly desirable products that other folks are hardly aware of. Lucky you.
Promises are part of the sales pitch.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

There was one of those quack alternative cancer clinic seminars offered last year that also offered CE credits. I remember reading about it here. The kind of seminar where they take patients on a bus trip of various "clinics" in Mexico.And where the speakers have names like Gonzalez and Gerson.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

Credentials are a shortcut for people who don't have time to spare. It's a quick, dirty, and easy route to a conclusion. We're more interested in the scenic route. We want the experiments, not authorities.

Oh, and fun referring to the scientists in What the Bleep. You might want to ask them what they think of the movie. David Albert was pretty unhappy:

I was edited in such a way as to completely suppress my actual views about the matters the movie discusses. I am, indeed, profoundly unsympathetic to attempts at linking quantum mechanics with consciousness. Moreover, I explained all that, at great length, on camera, to the producers of the film ... Had I known that I would have been so radically misrepresented in the movie, I would certainly not have agreed to be filmed.

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

As for the "scientists who agree" from McTaggart's tome (love her promo photo with the inexplicable equation floating next to her and seemingly Khan-inspired tunic), from the acknowledgments:

Jacques Benveniste, William Braud, Brenda Dunne, Bernhard [sic] Haisch, Basil Hiley, Robert Jahn, Ed May, Peter Marcer, Edgar Mitchell, Roger Nelson, Fritz-Albert Popp, Karl Pribram, Hal Puthoff, Dean Radin, Alfonso Rueda, Walter Schempp, Marilyn Schlitz, Helmut Schmidt, Elisabeth Targ, Russell Targ, Charles Tart and Mae Wan-Ho [sic]

A decidedly mixed bunch. The Marcer–Schempp collaborative papers are highly recommended.

Oh, and fun referring to the scientists in What the Bleep. You might want to ask them what they think of the movie.

Indeed, this attempt at coattail-riding screamed out not bothering to think about how to handle the petard.

I'm trying to find the schedule and list of speakers from that alternative Mexican cancer clinic seminar. If I remember, it was a multi-day event and CE credits for nurses increased the more days one attended. I remember at the time several of the health professionals here posted to express their outrage that this event was being legitimized with CE credits.

I believe it was run by these charlatans:

http://www.cancure.org/links.htm

By the way, if Orac is ever stuck for inspiration for subject matter, the "links" here could provide fodder for several posts, especially the Supplements, Herbs and Immune Support category which lists tools to combat EMF, a special coffee blend endorsed by Gerson to squirt up you-know-where, and a psychologist who uses her Siamese cat to help cancer patients.

Although Burzynski isn't part of this merry little gang, one day when he's banished from the US he might have to set up next to Hulda Clark's and the Gersons' little shops of horrors in Tijuana.

This Cancure site was one of the first I discovered when I fell into the world of quack-watching, and it's still one of the worst examples of scumbaggery. You can spend a couple of hours there getting more and more angry and frustrated. It's like a general clearing house, or portal, into dozens of useless, dangerous, expensive "treatments" being sold to desperate and unwitting people.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

Oh what do you know! I am currently being moderated for a non-ultralong post ( no links, no verboten language) about the so-called promise of curcumin, anti-cancer mushrooms and red fruits for arthritis. At any rate, I've been hearing and reading about these for a LONG time and so far, no real results. I guess that this being discussed in a post about Dr B is apropo.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

Fritz Albert Popp is finding some support at MIT for his theories on biophotons.

Heh. Marg, the "MIT Technology Review" in its current form is not exactly a house organ of MIT.

Speaking as a conference organizer, getting continuing education credits for RNs involves paying a whacking big fee to the accreditation agency and making sure that all your paperwork is submitted on time. Our last attempt was awarded 6.25 RN credits. And EMT, Social Worker, CHES and LPC/LCPC's as well, for the same workshops.

I taught one of them and it was most definitely not rocket science.

MD credits are more expensive and a little more complicated, but not much.

This kind of listing is an example of what's on that CanCure website. There are dozens of listings under "Directory of Clinics".

This ND (NOT a doctor) offers a Costco approach to cancer, and it's not even the prime focus of his clinic!

It's also nice to know he believes in the scientology sauna crap for detoxification. That's what the reference to Hubbard is at the end. I wouldn't be surprised if this crackpot is a scientologist himself. A lot of chiropractors, alternative healers and dentists are drawn to the cult and are in fact targeted.

The First Resort in Green Valley, AZ is run by Bryan McConnell, ND. It is mostly a general practice, but he does treat cancer using a variety of approaches. He uses IV vit C, IPT, diet, exercise, colon hydrotherapy, detox, cleansing, chelation, EDTA, trained in Gerson and other diet programs, juicing, classical homeopathy, darkfield microscope, hoxsey, essiac, bio-oxidative therapies, constitutional hydrotherapy, hydrazine sulfate, Poly MVA for cancer cytotoxic action, DMSO, and dry sauna similar to Hubbard protocol. Call 877- 399-9212 or 520 399-9212. http://www.thefirstresortaz.com/

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

Fritz Albert Popp is finding some support at MIT for his theories on biophotons.

Did you read the blog post? it talked about a single set of experiments performed by Sergey Mayburov at the Lebedev Institute of Physics in Moscow and his interpretation of said results. The notion that cells can emit photons is not outrageous - cells produce all kinds of chemical reactions, some of these can emit energy in the form of photons or heat. We certainly know of cells that react to photons and produce an effect (such as tanning, vision, or photosynthesis). I find the notion that photons emitted and received by cells are a form of intercellular communications is speculative at best, but if there's sufficient evidence then it would be an interesting finding.

Still doesn't mean that there's evidence that someone can control their emissions of photons, direct them to an individual, and use them to communicate with that individual's cells in order to heal. But if you've got evidence, it's something to consider.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

Personally I love the SSE, it ranges from fascinating to hilarious to infuriating; I have read almost all the on-line issues of Edge Science, and enjoyed them in the same way I enjoy Medical Hypotheses, or Fortean Times.

Did you ever read "The Scientist Speculates", I. J. Good's compilation of what he called "partly-baked ideas"? It was part of my adolescent introduction to the fact that playing with concepts is both legal and fun.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

Hey, Marg, quick, what's the effective distance scale and flux reported by Mayburov in this conference presentation? Hint: Seriously fails to help Bengston.

Fritz Albert Popp is finding some support at MIT for his theories on biophotons.

Michael Persinger has moved on from experiments with magenetic-field cerebral stimulation that no-one can replicate, to researching the "hypothesis that photons released from chemical processes within the brain produce biophysical pictures during visual imagery".
http://5mp.eu/fajlok2/bokkon-brain-imagery/dotta_et_al_2012_www.5mp.eu_…

Last I heard, he had moved on again (non-replication might have been an issue) and was exploring the parallel between nerve axons and lightning strikes.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

Just an aside, but is anyone having problems accessing The 21st Floor site? It's been gone for close to a week, at least on my computer.All I get is a message that says "no site configured at this address".The URL is fine and I get the message no matterhow I try to access.

I've become hooked on The 21st Floor along with RI. Keir Liddle does a great job keeping the magnifying glass on Burzynski and his adventures. He also covers a lot of cult-related woo: Steiner, Hubbard, exorcists, messianic doomsday cults, all that stuff.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

HDB,

Did you ever read “The Scientist Speculates”, I. J. Good’s compilation of what he called “partly-baked ideas”?

No, but I shall make a point of seeking out a copy, thanks.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Narad
Different animal.

Thanks Marg. Nothing you can do to distance heal the website? :)

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Marc Stephens

No :) But do you want me to ask them on Facebook what the heck is going on?

Sure, if you don't mind. I don't do Facebook.

See, even if we diasgree us Canadians can be polite and cordial...

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Marg

And there are scientists out there who agree

And naturally you'll post their data/studies proving it? Nah, Marg never does that!

Marg has such low standards of evidence that it doesn't matter anyway. Argument from authority was pointed out *how* many comments ago?

@MSII

darkfield microscope

Two questions: WTF is that, and do I want to know?

flip,

I think it might be related to living blood analysis. I didn't look it up yet, but it appears on other wellness and healing clinics' menus.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

@MSII

I did a little sleuthing and it looks like the site is having a DNS error. Someone should post this on Facebook: I don't do it either.

flip,

Maybe the scientologists, Steinerists and exorcists got the site shut down.

Conspiracy theory, anyone? Maybe it was chemtrails. Or monkey pus.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

flip,

Not to go off topic (this deserves a thread of its own) but have you ever heard of Errol Denton? He passes himself off as a physician and when skeptics criticize him, he cries racism and Nazi-ism. I think Josephine Jones, as always, has written plenty about him and his counterattacks.

He's the exclusive live blood tester for Nick Gonzales, if I recall.

http://www.livebloodtest.com/about/meet-the-consultants/errol-denton.ht…

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

flip,

Sorry, it was Robert O. Young who Denton was involved with. Young "taught" him about LBA.

And Denton is also a iridologist and is studying NLP.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Narad
Different animal.

Ah, goody, a definitive statement: biophotons have nothing to do with Bengston's energy healing. Why, then, do you suppose that he himself invokes them in perfectly analogous "geomagnetic probe" fashion?

After Konstantin Korotkov, a Russian physicist, developed sophisticated equipment for measuring Popp's bioenergy fields, Russian doctors began using his tests to diagnose illnesses such as cancer. When Korotkov measured the coronas of healers while they transmitted energy, he discovered remarkable changes in the intensity of their emissions, consistent with what Ben Mayrick and I discovered while working with a crudely constructed Kirlian photography device.

Darkfield live blood analysis is utter nonsense. I showed a hematologist friend of mine a live blood analysis website, and he was close to apoplectic.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

Marg,

And then of course there’s my buddy Sheldrake:

I did laugh at the irony of Sheldrake complaining that "bad science is like bad religion". As I have pointed out here before, Sheldrake is a religious fanatic who has mistaken his own mystical visions for reality and is upset that no one else can see them. Let's not forget that Sheldrake denies that DNA contains a blueprint of morphological development (which will come as a surprise to Drosophila researchers, amongst others).

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

Kreb,

Of course it's nonsense. Spend a few minutes at Denton's website and it's obvious he's another scam artist. What I noticed is there's no reference to cancer, as he's in the UK and is covered under the Cancer Act. If he were in Arizona, for instance, his website would be full of cancer-cure claims.

Just check the websites and videos (I love when people use YouTube to post "evidence") you get when you Google "darkfield microscope cancer". This one, for example, called "Cancer Is Curable Now". Here's their page on LBA, under "treatment options":

http://maxawareness.com/members/treatment-options/medical-treatments/la…

I love this paragraph on their "recommended products" page. Way to slither around the law, a-holes:

We are not allowed to offer you products other than educational books and DVD’s on this website.

That’s why we have merged with many suppliers and created a shopping cart which is separate from this website.

This shopping cart contains everything we recommend to you. You will find many products which we found very helpful. All of them are used with great success in clinics around the world. All products here have been tested and researched and discussed with many doctors and health practitioners to be very effective.

It's all useless detox crap (pardon the pun) and supplements.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Marc Stephens
Okay, I posted a query on their FB site. Someone else did likewise earlier this week, but there was no response.

Let’s not forget that Sheldrake denies that DNA contains a blueprint of morphological development

That's just silly. Everybody knows that DNA is the busiest little beaver in town (PDF).

There's something screwy with the 21st Floor's DNS. The domain registration (Dreamhost) is good, but it's resolving to OpenDNS space for me.

I can't resist posting a link to Robert O. Young's hilarious guide to live blood analysis. It really requires little comment, since pretty much everything he says is wrong. What you are seeing is a drop of blood slowly drying out under the hot darkfield lights, not red blood cells fermenting like a rotten banana, as he claims. And 'diabetes mellitus' means 'sweet urine', not 'to melt into sugar'. Laughable.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

I generally hear Darkfield microscopy as being used to diagnose infectious diseases like Lyme. Mark Crislip discussed it on Science-Based Medicine. Quite the funny article, on the other hand, should one laugh at other people's misfortunes in following bad medical advice? Umm, sometimes, yes. Pointing out the absurdity can be a real attention getter for some patients, maybe even save someone's life.

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/live-blood-analysis-the-m…

One of the adjunctive treatments that physician's around here recommend are (I kid you not) colonics. Not your average colonic, but 35 gallon's each, 3 to 5 times a week. My question is this, can someone drown from the inside out, or perhaps better stated, from their bottom up?

Further running down the Different Animal, I was wondering whether Marg could bother herself to quit endlessly pretending to change the subject (it doesn't really matter whose shoes you're horking on) and address this item, which would appear to be some sort of zorse (not to be confused with zenergy [PDF]) by her collisionlessly emitted standard.

(Passing slogo winner, Quantrek: "BESt POSSiBlE FUtURE tHROUGH FRONtiER SCiENCE," I kid you not.)

Narad -- that slogan reminds me inexorably of Robert E McElwaine.....

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

that slogan reminds me inexorably of Robert E McElwaine…..

Ah, yes, how time flies. A classic, with the benefit that RADIONICS intersects with the de la Warr* camera, which naturally circles right back to authoritative scientist Marcer and QuantaGraphy®.**

* Apparently a very challenging phase phrase in the vibrational lexicon.
** Does not appear to actually be a registered trademark.

@Narad, Unless I am misinterpreting something, those German biophysical experiments that prove the reality of Reiki have some tough requirements for their evidence,

“It is imperative to show modern society not only the efforts of the healer in scientific research. It is also essential to prove the anticipated medical effects on people.

All it takes is a little effort and anticipation, but on the condition that you are attuned to the "take" energy mode and thus able to accept the energy. I must have flunked Attunement 101.

(And now I'm getting all nostalgic about the Monster Truck Neutopians.)

If I may go on in this reverie, Lib Hubbard (long ago stalker of Dorion Yes-That-Sagan, BTW) now appears to be trying to emulate the late, inimitable Jack Horkheimer but hasn't quite figured out that blue-screen thing yet. I hope this doesn't slow down the implementation of the Moontopia biosphere.

Narad - You really shouldn't wear blue clothes when you sit in front of a blue screen, though the stars in her scarf are pretty trippy.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

Mephistopheles O'Brien, and Politicalguineapig

Would parents be better at identifying learning disabilities? Probably not. Would they be better at dealing with them? Perhaps, depending on the nature of the disability.

Well, that actually depends not only on the disability, but also on the parents, and their circumstances.

But if you missed the first part, the rest doesn’t matter.

Kreb,

A bit more on Robert O. Young. Josephine Jones referred to this page from his blog written this past summer, where he addresses his critics.

http://articlesofhealth.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/a-message-to-my-critics-…

From this blog post, we "learn" the following things:

He couldn't afford to go to good schools. He's been called the Martin Luther King of the 21st century. A "noted scientist" is using his work without giving him credit. No one can prove HIV causes AIDS. Diabetes can be cured overnight by giving up meat. All animal proteins are acidic and cause degenerative disease. Eggs cause diabetes. He's a visionary like Jobs, Gates and Zuckerberg. It goes on and on.

This guy is certifiable.

But perhaps the biggest gem here is his own explanation, toward the bottom of the comments, for why Kim Tinkham died. Of course it was her own fault, she went off the Miracle pH regimen. And he claims she called him to apologize for that right before she died.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

"No mental gymnastics are necessary."

no thinking required at all really

By al kimeea (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

Narad:
not to be confused with zenergy [PDF]
I am going to assume that the PDF was constructed with one of those gibberish-generating programs, because the thought that someone actually took some trouble to string together that random collection of symbols is just too depressing to entertain.
I have not seen such an abundance of non-secateurs outside of a gardening shop.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 08 Dec 2012 #permalink

@MSII

Not to go off topic (this deserves a thread of its own) but have you ever heard of Errol Denton?

No, I haven't - that biography screams "woo". "I was a tennis player, then I got interested in health so I learned TCM"... I'm all for back up careers and career changes, but that just sounded... weird. If you're a legitimate health professional, who cares if you were previously a tennis player? Why mention it at all except to say "hey once I was like you and found SBM to be lacking"?

@Narad

while working with a crudely constructed Kirlian photography device

Hilarious, you should have highlighted that bit instead.

I remember reading an impressive debunk of Kirlian photography back in the early 80s (it was in 'The Unexplained' magazine as I recall). Some researchers had figured out a way to control humidity and the effect disappeared. That was it for Kirlian photography, I thought. It's a bit depressing to see it is alive and well 30 years later.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Chemommo,

But if you missed the first part, the rest doesn’t matter.

True enough. However, parents typically get all kinds of assistance in determining whether their child has a learning disability, so they don't need to do it alone. I agree the effectiveness of home schooling - particularly for children who have issues learning in a conventional classroom environment - depends on the parents. I have seen it done effectively.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

@ Kreb:

Those who believe in auras often use Kirlian as 'proof' of their authenticity.
About 10 years ago, I attended a presentation by a yoga teacher I knew who was the opening act for an aura-reader, medium, sensitive and healer ( she also had some material on Christian saints and roses IIRC). She discussed Kirlian photography, showing images.

For her grand finale, she put up a movie screen and had several audience members stand in front of it- including yours truly ( I always get picked).
Seems I have a very nice blue and lavender aura ( I have a scarf like that actually).Looking up what that is supposed to *mean* ( courtesy of a reiki site), I should be very happy about my good fortune. Unfortunately, I dont believe in auras.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

You should all be reading Dr. Marty Makary's book "Unaccountable" about what really goes on behind the scenes in SBM and hospitals. It will make your hair curl. It makes the sins of alt med pale in comparison.

E.g., organs transplanted from an HIV/Hep C positive donor into four different people, all of whom became infected. E.g., surgeons allowed to practice who everyone in the hospital knows are incompetent and no one is willing to call out, including one whose nickname was "Dr. Hodad", for "Hands of Death and Destruction". Complications benefit hospitals to the tune of about $10,000 per case. When in a surgical conference with an audience of thousands the speaker asked if anyone knew a surgeon who was unsafe, ALL THE HANDS went up. Studies cited: 1 in 4 patients harmed in hospital through medical error; 50% of cancer patients are receiving chemotherapy the week of their death; 50 per cent of stents placed in angioplasty unnecessary. Dr. Makary works with pancreatic cancer; he says that chemo for pancreatic cancer adds 1 month of life with wretched side effects and if he himself were diagnosed, he'd certainly not have it. But hospitals and doctors make money from chemotherapy drugs and are profit driven in prescribing chemotherapy. He says the real life complication rate for surgery is about 7 times higher than in the studies because only the best case scenarios are reported. And so on and so on. He even quotes a memo sent to surgeons telling them that the end of fiscal year was nigh and they should be upping their number of operations because their bonus would be performance driven. Unbelievable. It's really time for you all to drop those rose-coloured glasses: this is real medicine.

while working with a crudely constructed Kirlian photography device

Hilarious, you should have highlighted that bit instead.

It actually manages to implicitly tie together reiki and homeopathy.

It makes the sins of alt med pale in comparison.

Not generally, and especially not what you do, which is simple fraud.

@Narad
A lot of what they do is simple fraud, my friend. What I do is not.

Judith,

Every word of what you wrote may or may not be true. But what does an of it have to do with whether Burzynski knows what he's talking about in the interview Orac is discussing? The man passes himself off as an expert in a particular field but his own words in the interview betray him.

That's the subject of this post. Not the sins of the medical profession. All you are doing, again, is deflecting the discussion.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

What I do is not.

Every penny earned through "energy healing" is ill gotten. At least we can agree that what you do most certainly is not, as you sign off with, "real medicine."

Judith, you still haven't grasped the fact that tu quoque doesn't work here, have you? It doesn't *matter* what happens in hospitals, or how doctors are paid, or what Big Pharmacy does. You need to prove that you -- you personally, Judith -- can do what you claim you can do. Otherwise we will not believe you.

By the way, in case you are not aware, The Amazing Randi offers a million dollars to anyone who can prove a psychic ability. Being able to instantly cure a documented case of poison oak would probably qualify. You should look into it. That million dollars would relieve you of the need to ask for donations while spreading the joys of Rejoin.

Reiki, not rejoin. I love autocorrect. It was also determined to turn the word into reining.

@Narad
Is unnecessary back surgery not fraud? Is angioplasty that is not warranted by the patient's condition likewise not fraud? Allowing a surgeon who lost six patients in a row during routine by-pass surgery, who routinely takes hours longer to complete the operation than his fellows, to operate on a seventh patient is worse than fraud: it's reckless endangerment. It's being an accessory to someone's untimely and unnatural death. In effect, it's licensed manslaughter.

But what does an of it have to do with whether Burzynski knows what he’s talking about in the interview Orac is discussing?

Well, it is tangentially related in that Burzynski, like Judith, won't publish any results (ironically, the same sort of lack of transparency that Makary advocates against).

Makary's book is intended to help people make better and more informed health care choices, not to run off to a hand-waving magical woo-salesman instead of using real medicine.

Makary is also a TV star (a la Oz) who likes to drum up controversy and publicity for himself. PLUS he's married to a Fox news celebrity.

I'm not saying that negates anything he claims as a physician: by all accounts he's a good doctor. But he's got another agenda and all the publicity this book generates furthers that agenda. He's also campaigning to be named Surgeon General.

And almost all of Judith's points are irrelevant in mnay parts of the wortld with socialized medicine. Hate to tell you, Judith, but the US is NOT the center of universe. Doctors in Canada don't get "end of year bonuses" based on the number of surgeries they perform.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Is unnecessary back surgery not fraud?

"Unnecessary"? Nobody has back surgery for the hell of it. Can PT and painkillers be just as effective disk disease? Sometimes, sure. That's not "fraud," though.

Is angioplasty that is not warranted by the patient’s condition likewise not fraud?

You are again trying to proceed post hoc (presumably from this) and pretending that patient choices do not at all factor into whether PCI is performed. But no, a need for better dissemination of more up-to-date guidance is not fraud.

Allowing a surgeon who lost six patients in a row during routine by-pass surgery, who routinely takes hours longer to complete the operation than his fellows, to operate on a seventh patient is worse than fraud: it’s reckless endangerment. It’s being an accessory to someone’s untimely and unnatural death. In effect, it’s licensed manslaughter.

You here cite a single anecdote and even manage to do it badly, as though, again, people are having coronary bypasses for fun. It is indeed irresponsible and an example of what lack of transparency can lead to. Unfortunately, you again find yourself squarely in the crosshairs on both these fronts.

^ "effective for degenerative"

But hospitals and doctors make money from chemotherapy drugs and are profit driven in prescribing chemotherapy.

Not in my corner of the world.

Dr. Makary works with pancreatic cancer; he says that chemo for pancreatic cancer adds 1 month of life with wretched side effects and if he himself were diagnosed, he’d certainly not have it

What in the name of Beelzebub do Dr Makary's hypothetical health decisions have to do with anyone else?

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

One way to put it: The sins of the pharmaceutical industry are more than likely much smaller than the unrecorded sins of the old days. Crimes don't get recorded in lawless areas. We know about the sins of pharmaceutical companies because we have the FDA, scientists, doctors, and various watchdog organizations keeping a close eye on them. Alties generally work under the radar, and their lobbyists have been generally more successful in providing them with loopholes that allow them to work without regulatory oversight.

Early "medicine" did stuff the old guard anecdotalist way, which is why bloodletting was so popular despite being dangerous, not merely useless. They so deluded themselves via natural human cognitive biases that they thought they were helping more than they were hurting.

Then science came along and provided ways to minimize the influence of human biases. Science forced us to acknowledge our shortcomings as humans so that we could gain more accurate methods for determining causation in complex systems, instead of simply allowing ourselves to assume good outcomes were attributable to our interventions instead of other potential factors. We had to face the idea that we're naturally bad at establishing causation in complex systems like the human body. We also started recording bad outcomes along with the good, instead of instinctively and naturally handwaving them away for the sake of softening wounds to our egos.

The old guard, however, didn't get the message and continue to push for deregulated anecdotalism as the method of discovery where practitioners can and will delude themselves because, in their hubris, they think their biased human nature (and lack of imagination mixed with ignorance of well-known confounding placebo factors) can't lead them to misinterpret causation in anecdotes. They just want to go back to the good old days of blind trust, easy outs, and worship of the doctor as an Absolute Authority.

The scientific way means doing things the hard way so that you can reasonably know that you're helping people before you reward yourself with self-esteem. The old way involves ignoring all the red flags and warning signs a humble, self-critical person observes. It's the quick and easy path to inflate one's ego. That way leads to the dark side.

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Judith,

Much as I am sure everyone is delighted to welcome you back to the thread today, the argument you are using fails on so many levels.

This thread is about Burzynski, his evident lack of knowledge and his arrogance in assuming that, in lieu of real evidence of efficacy, that his "word" is an acceptable substitute.

Your hatred of Big Pharma is irrelevant. Your belief in hand waving and wishing really hard as treatments is irrelevant. Your discovery that some human beings are capable of being incompetent or dishonest (wow, what an original observation that is) is irrelevant.

What do you actually want to add to the subject at hand?

Dr. Makary works with pancreatic cancer; he says that chemo for pancreatic cancer adds 1 month of life with wretched side effects and if he himself were diagnosed, he’d certainly not have it...

My father died of pancreatic cancer. This is exactly what his doctor us--chemo would be of no use in his late stages and the benefits of the few extra days or weeks would not outweigh the agony my dad would be in during that time.

Of course this is in Canada where doctors don't have "quotas" to fulfill to earn bonuses, or earn commissions peddling chemo. The ORs are backlogged for months and the system can't keep up as it is. Why would anyone encourage a doctor to perform more surgeries?

And if handwaving worked, countries with socialized medicine would pick it up in a heartbeat to take the stress off the hospitals. Cheap, fast, effective: when the government is paying, that's exactly what they are looking for.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Of course this is in Canada

So is Judith.

Krebiozen

Some researchers had figured out a way to control humidity and the effect disappeared. That was it for Kirlian photography, I thought.

Ah, the naivety of youth. Is there any bull$hit that has not been resurrected after it was debunked?

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

@MarkL
I submit that the persecution of Burzynski is not on any kind of ethical grounds but chiefly because he takes revenue from "legitimate" doctors. The patients he treats could spend their money on chemotherapy in a regular hospital as easily as at his clinic and likely not obtain better results. It would seem, at least anecdotally, that at least some patients obtain better results at the Burzynski clinic.

Dr. Makary points out in his book that once a doctor is licensed he can legally do anything - brain-surgery, electro-shock therapy, even chiropractic. So it would seem that Burzynski is not in violation of any law for using his own method of chemotherapy. I guess that's why they try to get him on technicalities like mail fraud.

@Narad
Studies have shown that pain management and PT are better than back surgery. Makary also quotes a study that showed that half of all angioplasties are unnecessary, and he has his own story about a relative who he did not think should have one who did, and died during the operation. As to the anecdote about the surgeon who lost six consecutive patients in routine by-pass operations, that comes from the book as well, straight as told, and the issue is not whether the seventh patient should have had the surgery but that the surgeon, under whose hand six people in a row have died, should not have been allowed to operate on a seventh.

So people in the GTA turn down free real medical care to go pay Judith with their precious after-tax loonies for no treatment?

OK, let's spin it from Judith's side, to save her the trouble:

As I said myself, the hospitals up here are backlogged and the system is clogged. So Canadians really have no choice but to seek out alternatives because the government is failing them. And these alternatives are so effective people are willing to pay for them.

Did I come close?

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

The patients he treats could spend their money on chemotherapy in a regular hospital as easily as at his clinic and likely not obtain better results.

Perhaps someone from the UK commentariat could address Judith's wrongness about the finances of Burzynski's UK-sourced patients.

No, wait, they already have but Judith ignores them.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

I submit that the persecution of Burzynski is not on any kind of ethical grounds but chiefly because he takes revenue from “legitimate” doctors. The patients he treats could spend their money on chemotherapy in a regular hospital as easily as at his clinic and likely not obtain better results. It would seem, at least anecdotally, that at least some patients obtain better results at the Burzynski clinic.

Judith, you keep ignoring the fact that many clients of Stan's choose to pay for his services rather than use the free socialized medicine available to them. How many Burzynski clients have we read about recently from the UK, Australia and even here in Canada. Our doctors don't get paid per patient, so in many parts of the world your argument is hockey pucks. Doctors persecute Burzynski because he's never shown that his stuff works.

Did you happen to read the three-part story on the little girl in the Toronto Star dying of a brain tumour--a DIPG which is exactly what Burzynski claims to specialize in. Rather than fight it and make her last few months miserable, the parents are taking her to the farm every day (she loves farm animals) and giving her birthday parties every few days to make up for all the birthday parties she'll miss in the future. (I'm tearing up even as I type this.) Her oncologist gave her a year to live and that seems to be accurate. She'll probably die in a few weeks.

Had she gone to Burzynski a year ago, he would have said he might be able to give her a year. She got that same year without him.

It was heartwarming to read the story and the comments and NOT see any plugs for alternative quackery or any negativity toward the parents for not trying anything further once the doctors in Toronto said it was hopeless.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Herr Dok,

Once again, great minds etc. etc.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Makary also quotes a study that showed that half of all angioplasties are unnecessary

No, Judith. I already provided you with the full text of what he's citing. (It is not "quoted," and it sure as hell isn't "half of all angioplasties.") Try not to bumble your own damn sources.

I see Judith is totally OK with the basic dishonesty of charging people to participate in clinical trials, and of claiming to conduct clinical and never publishing the results.

As for anecdotal evidence, there is more anecdotal evidence that aliens are traveling dozens of light years in order to probe people's butts and steal cow anuses than there is for Burzynski curing people of cancer.

I assume from there lack of response form either Judith or Marge to my thermodynamic calculations indicating that cloud busting requires an energy expenditure on the order of burning a railcar load of high grade coal, that Bengston's cloud busting antics are fictional.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

About that "unregulated anecdotalism" ( Bronze Dog):
I'd like to add- "selective reportage".
One of the idiots I survey tells spectacular tales of all of the 'cures' he has effected through getting people to change their diet, lifestyle, spirituality and laying-on-of-hands.

OK. I have NEVER heard him admit of a failure UNLESS the other person somehow 'brought it on' her- or him-self by not following through, losing the faith, quitting or ((shudder)) going over to the dark side, i.e. taking meds, seeing real doctors etc. Including his tales about his own family.

Just step back a bit and take a look at this:
if the person gets well, it's due to woo ( or the woo-meister);
if the person stays ill or dies, it's attributable to SBM or that person's actions/ beliefs.

Doesn't that all-or-none dividing line look just a little suspicious? Doesn't it seem unlikely that one person should have such perfect results and that the enitre field of SBM should fail so terribly?
Then, isn't it just oddly, incredibly co-incidental that the person who reports this should also be the person who succeeds AND just happens to make money on anti-SBM media and products?
And just happens to be un-regulated by governmental agencies- unlike SBM?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Isn't it ironic how the only people who do speak out on behalf of Burzynski are the other quacks for whom Burzynski truly is the competition?

People or representatives from Gonzalez, Young, Gerson, Clark, Simoncini etc. all seem to support each other in a kind of unholy alliance. And yet if someone goes to Burzynski they probably won't also go to Gerson, for example. You'd think they'd all be fighting for same piece of the pie.

Not to mention the oft-repeated statement here that if one of those people is right, all the others are wrong. You can't believe in Gerson, and Burzynski, and Simoncini at the same time. Their theories contradict each other.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Ah, the naivety of youth. Is there any bull$hit that has not been resurrected after it was debunked?

It's not as though Kirlian photography is total nonsense; corona discharges obviously exist. It just seems that the variations in what's recorded are mainly due to moisture, at least in contact images of living subjects. (I don't have access to the full text of this one to look further; there are also noncontact ways of going about this, as I understand it.)

People could get the best tested treatments pretty much for free in countries with socialized medicine, or they could sign up for experimental treatments dedicated to proper record keeping, also pretty much for free.

Instead, Burzynski, a guy who's been experimenting on patients in almost a Frankensteinian manner for thirty years without publishing any of his results, milks them for five or six figures each, even though his lack of peer reviewed, published results means that he can't promise them results. He only publishes marketing propaganda in the form of testimonials. The FDA, consumer watchdog, can't touch him because of various loopholes, and when they can touch him, they're only permitted a slap on the wrist.

How is this guy not trigger red flags in observers? I can understand cancer patients being deceived as a result of desperation, but how can non-desperate onlookers not see this?

My first guess in the case of Judith: Political convenience and identity politics. Alties see themselves as a tribe, where who you side with is more important than the truth and what's best for the patient.

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Denice,

Just step back a bit and take a look at this:
if the person gets well, it’s due to woo ( or the woo-meister);
if the person stays ill or dies, it’s attributable to SBM or that person’s actions/ beliefs.

Just yesterday I posted a response from Robert O. Young to his critics on his own blog. In the comments someone posted that he's a quack and mentioned Kim Tinkham. (I'm surprised he didn't delete the comment.) Guess what he answered: it was her fault she died! And she knew that and called him to apologize for going off the Miracle pH!

I posted the link someone here: we have three Burzynski threads going so I don't remember which one. If you didn't happen to see it I can find it again.

He actually blames her for dying!!!

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Doesn’t that all-or-none dividing line look just a little suspicious? Doesn’t it seem unlikely that one person should have such perfect results and that the enitre field of SBM should fail so terribly?
Then, isn’t it just oddly, incredibly co-incidental that the person who reports this should also be the person who succeeds AND just happens to make money on anti-SBM media and products?
And just happens to be un-regulated by governmental agencies- unlike SBM?

Exactly the sorts of questions Judith should be asking herself, but won't because Burzynski is a fellow tribe member. Going against the tribe would be betrayal, so if her inaction leads to unnecessary suffering for the little consumers, all she can do is shrug her shoulders because loyalty to the tribe comes first.

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Ah, the naivety of youth. Is there any bull$hit that has not been resurrected after it was debunked?

I saw an ad this week for a mood ring.Only 10 $CDN.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Judith,

I submit that the persecution of Burzynski is not on any kind of ethical grounds but chiefly because he takes revenue from “legitimate” doctors.

For the sake of argument, let us suppose that your statement is to some extent true - that some people look for ways to "persecute" Burzynski because he threatens to rob him of their livelihoods. How, then, do you address the actual concerns raised?

Suppose a large pharmaceutical firm had done exactly what Burzynski did? Would it be more or less in the wrong? Would the people who spoke out against it's practices be persecuting the pharmaceutical company'?

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Judith - I'd have the exact same problem with Dr. B even if he was doing what he was doing for free, because there is no evidence that what he does is effective - that's the problem.

I think Dr. Makary has done some great work, with checklists for example, and many of the points he makes are well made and should be discussed more openly. Many of his examples are of medicine being practised badly, and against the very principles of SBM. There is no doubt that there are some big problems in medicine, many of them political and indeed financial, which I'm sure all of us would like to see put right. In point of fact a lot of these problems are being tackled, certainly in the UK where, for example, league tables of surgical outcomes and mortalities are going to be made publicly available within a couple of years. I believe similar schemes are already active in some US states.

It would be extremely foolish to allow these problems to overshadow the astounding successes of modern scientific medicine, or to think that alternative medicine of any flavor would be any sort of substitute. Of course no one wants to seen unnecessary stents and back surgeries, but it is as well to remember there are such things as necessary stents and back surgeries. Is there anything useful energy medicine can do for such situations? Is there such a thing as necessary energy healing? I really don't think so.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

I especially like this: "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."

Isaac Asimov wrote an essay in the very early 70s arguing that the breakdown of Carbon-14 is a major cause of cancer because Carbon-14 is incorporated right into the DNA and its breakdown causes genetic damage that can lead to cancer. He wasn't presenting a revolutionary idea that cancer is due to genetic damage; that was a given. So Burzynski was *at least* twenty years behind popular science understanding, much less medical science.

Besides, cancer *has* to be due to genetic damage. What else would it be? A fungus? An acidic liquid? Oh, wait...

Liver flukes. Don't you know anything?

Every time I see that Zap2It commercial I think of dear departed Hulda Clark.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Liver flukes. Of course. How could I forget (no matter how hard I try).

LW is thinking of "At Closest Range" -- collected in 1974 -- but Asimov had made the same point about Carbon-14 in his earlier essay "The Explosions Within Us", published in 1957.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Either that or it's due to trauma earlier in your life. Resolve the trauma and your cancer goes away.*

*Biologie Totale, a French offshoot of German Non-Medicine.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

@MSII
I thnk the little girl died. The article in the Star had a photo from memorial. Her two mothers made a courageous decision.

@ Bronze Dog:

You see, the reason I get to ask questions like that is because I am a finely honed product of the elitist establishment, having been educated in posh universities and 'schools' of social science. In other words, what alt med folk really don't like.

I hardly expect any of our alt med friends to be able to think that way:
a serious education gets you to doubt most of what you encounter. You try to subtract your needs and wants from the equation to understand what is REALLY going on. In the real world, things are not simple; events transpire from multiple causes; variables interact with each other. People are also complex and changeable: unpredictable. Records and statistical analysis provide brief glimpes beyond the surface- they're the equivalents of other scientific instruments, letting us see farther or closer.

Whenever I hear a woo-meister give a simplistic explanation, I immediately prick up my ears because I know that fiction is apt to follow in its wake. But there is comfort in a world that works that way- just like having black-and-white good and evil. That doesn't make it true. Just easier in the short run, until you get walloped by reality.

It would be wonderful if prayers were answered, dreams came true and wishing made it so. If that were true, we'd already know about it and it wouldn't be any great news.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

For those wondering what we're talking about, here is a link to the first two installments of the story. Part three appears Monday. Scroll down a bit and you'll see the two stories.

No paywall at the Toronto Star yet.

http://www.thestar.com/

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Thank you, herr doktor bimler. I meant to mention "At Closest Range" but forgot. I didn't know he had written about it even earlier. But it just shows even more how ludicrous Burzynski's claims are.

Judith,

Yes, you're correct. She died in early November. It's confusing because the series is written in the present tense, so it appears to be current. I guess out of consideration for the family they waited a while before publishing the series, and writing in present tense makes the narrative more compelling. The Star's writer is excellent. I can't believe the paper allowed her so much space for this.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Either that or it’s due to trauma earlier in your life. Resolve the trauma and your cancer goes away.*

*Biologie Totale, a French offshoot of German Non-Medicine.

Of course it's not just trauma from this lifetime, but also from intrauterine and past lifetimes. I see little distinction between practitioners who attribute a patient's illness to their past-life deeds, and those who inculcate false memories from the present lifetime. In fact, those that inculcate traumatic memories from both the present and past lifetimes seem to have the potential of doing much more damage to the patient.

More on German Non-Medicine, http://www.klinghardtacademy.com/Articles/The-Neurophysiology-of-Light-…

@Denice Walter
You should hear what "real" scientists say about the social sciences - I think they call them "soft", and therefore no science at all. In my humble opinion one shouldn't let a posh elitist education get in one's way in trying to figure how reality really works.

@ Judith:

And exactly how would you know what a "'real''' scientist is?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Judith, That makes no sense. An education shouldn't get in the way of understanding how reality really works? Are you saying that ignorance is bliss?

In my humble opinion one shouldn’t let a posh elitist education get in one’s way in trying to figure how reality really works.

Or having nothing but a baccalaureate and simply pretending to channel the mysteries of the universe, for that matter.

Judith,

You are crossing the line from argumentative to trolling. As usual with all the alt-med crazies you refuse to answer even the most simple questions about your particular favourite flavour of woo, yet sit in the corner throwing out condemnatory statements about Big Pharma and the Medical Establishment, all the while reassuring yourself and others that you know you are right and you dont need evidence let alone proof because you are special.

Do you know what that says to the rest of the world?That you are a batshit crazy, tin-foil hatted loon.

S,

What you posted was a link to some extreme woo, but it isn't the German New Medicine (GNM) to which I referred. GNM is the invention of Ryke Hamer, who dreamt it up after his son died. He contends there are five biological laws and that the cause of all disease is some sort of conflict or trauma. Lose your job, get a divorce, you get a disease.

Here's his premise concerning breast cancer, for instance:

We do not develop either intra-ductal or breast gland cancer without reason. The specific nature or feeling behind the conflict will determine precisely what brain location will receive the impact of the conflict-shock (DHS) and whether it will be the duct or the gland affected.

Breast gland cancer has to do with the woman’s nest in the sense that she has a "worry", "quarrel or argument" going on in her nest. The worry could be over a health concern of a loved one, or even being thrown out of the nest by her mother! The overall issue concerned however is really a separation from a loved one.

Milk duct cancer has quite specifically to do with the conflict of, "my child, mother, or partner has been torn from my breast!" Again it is a separation conflict and the rules of laterality also apply here.

Here's one of their websites, supposedly Hamer's official English site:

http://www.newmedicine.ca/german-new-medicine.php

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Forgot to mention, Hamer is another former doctor who was stripped of his license.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

MSII, It is SHOCKING to learn that there are so many nutcase doctors out there.

FORMER doctors.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

You should hear what “real” scientists say about the social sciences – I think they call them “soft”, and therefore no science at all.

Well as someone who was educated in both natural and social sciences at different (eminent and highly regarded) institutions, I have to say I have never heard any such thing. That's not to say that a lot of nonsense hasn't snuck into social sciences in recent years; it has. But I found a lot of useful stuff as well as the post-modernism. I learned a great deal about statistics, economics, psychology, psychoanalysis, psychology, law, philosophy, medicine and more I have no doubt forgotten during my 3 years studying social anthropology (BA Hons at SOAS). It was hard work, with an enormous amount of reading, different to the biomedical sciences studies I had been through previously, but nothing soft about it at all.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Judith, Is this testimonial from your website?

JoAnna D., Toronto
This is a brief note off appreciation for the help you gave my lacerated finger -- your attention and care not only relieved pain; I am convinced you also hastened the healing process. Thank you immensely.

(The laceration was an amputated fingertip that had not been healing.)

Judith, Are you attempting to use Reiki to treat an amputee who has a non-healing surgical wound?!

Clearly, that is outside the scope of Reiki - WTF! What if their wound was infected and your bogus treatments resulted in their not receiving appropriate medical care, and their condition became even worse? Don't you have ANY sense of ethics?

MSII, I could give you a list of many such doctors who are still in practice right now.

Oh I know...I just don't like to let people forget about the ones who have been disbarred. I hate when people write Dr. Wakefield, or Simoncini, or Hamer, or Lanctot...does Geier still have a licence anymore in any states?

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Judith: Dr. Makary points out in his book that once a doctor is licensed he can legally do anything – brain-surgery, electro-shock therapy, even chiropractic.
Uh, no. There are licensing boards that will discipline doctors who step outside their specialty or prescribe out-dated and dangerous methods. The only reason that Burzynski is still practicing is that Texas's medical board is apparently a legal fiction. In any other state, he'd've been shut down.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

does Geier still have a licence anymore in any states?

Hawaii is still standing, IIRC. I believe that some of the others are merely suspended but not revoked.

MSII, I think Geier still can practice in Hawaii. The Hawaii medical board website link does not appear to be working, so I can't verify it.

Uh, no. There are licensing boards that will discipline doctors who step outside their specialty or prescribe out-dated and dangerous methods.

You're grossly overstating the case. All state medical licenses allow the grantee to practice the full scope of medicine, last I heard.

Sorry, @DW, I should have put "real" in quotation marks. I would like to point out that one of the charges leveled at Bengston is that he is "merely" a sociologist trying to do real science; and that was said somewhere on this board.

@Politicalguineapig
One of Dr. Makary's points IS that those licensing boards are pretty damn useless when it comes to weaning out substandard physicians. He likens them to the Catholic Church; a really bad doctor just gets moved to another state or another "parish", maybe demoted to work in a clinic for poor people. The ones they go after are not the ones who kill and maim but the alties who don't really don't toe the line.

@S
Strange, her doctor did not seem terribly concerned. It had been that way for a while. I just treated it to see if "Reiki" would make it feel better. And you know what? Not a penny exchanged hands.

@ Politicalguineapig:

Here's food for thought:
recently, the chief woo-meister @ PRN, instructed his fervent believers to re-locate to Texas- especially Austin**- because there are "less laws" that interfere with 'health freedom' and the business of selling supplements, bad information and cures for whatever-ails-ye- as he is speaking to both woo-recipients as well as woo-meisters. He is not exactly thrilled with how his own state monitors business and taxes alt med providers.

He operates a RL and a virtual store for health products: you may call or visit to be "counselled" about ANY health issue ( including psychological and developmental problems) by his staff of nutrition "experts" ( i.e. sales reps) ; supposedly he reserves his own services for the terminally ill- however, he oftens talks about "counselling" people in bad relationships or with relatively minor ills, so his definition of "terminal" might vary from the norm. He appears to be worried that the dieticians' professional organisation is seeking to shut out nutritionists- a mainstay staffing solution in woo-topia.

** where both AJW and Mike Adams reside.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Strange, her doctor did not seem terribly concerned. It had been that way for a while. I just treated it to see if “Reiki” would make it feel better. And you know what? Not a penny exchanged hands.

Judith, Did you go to her doctor's appointment with her? If not, then you do not know what concerns her doctor expressed. She could have misinterpreted her doctor, and you would be supporting and facilitating that.

Why are you putting Reiki in quotes now, "Reiki"?

Is it not outside of the scope of Reiki to treat an infected surgery wound from an amputee? Yes or no?


And you know what? Not a penny exchanged hands.

So it is Ok to mislead people with bogus treatments as long as they are free? Let me fix your car next time. I'll do it for free, just don't complain when it doesn't work and your brakes soon fail on the freeway.

I should have put “real” in quotation marks. I would like to point out that one of the charges leveled at Bengston is that he is “merely” a sociologist trying to do real science; and that was said somewhere on this board.

Unfortunately, you're trying to stretch this into more than it is. Bengston appears to have no meaningful training in experimental science. (The dissertation is "The Relationship of Theory to Policy: A Case Study of the President's
Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice.") Indeed, he appears to have no meaningful scientific publications. Pointing this out does not in fact amount to an indictment of the whole of the social sciences that you can then trot out in some sort of sorry jujitsu attempt.

@ Judith:

What Bengston was doing with healing was not sociology - which like psych or ec- can be data-based or not: it is one of the reasons social scientists are forced- like it or not - to study tons of statistics and experimental/ research design ( which I did for both clinical and experimental psych) as well as learning to critique research. Which takes years, I should note.

Anyone can put forth a hypothesis in psych, ec or another area, in any manner, and produce data: that doesn't mean that serious people will accept it. Certain hypotheses ( e.g.AJW's/ supply side) do not seem to be related to other data we've accumulated about the subject. There is also bad stat and bad methodolog that shriek out to anyone who has been adequately introduced to problems with research.

Many anti-vaxxers talk about producing studies that are either unethical ( vaxed/unvaxxed) or fundamentally flawed ( surveys biased by self-selection). A person who has studied an area knows this already. Certain research postulates ideas that are un-falsifiable- those will get you nowhere fast.

It's late. I have to go lie down.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

A lot of what they do is simple fraud, my friend. What I do is not.

You are using testimonials to mislead patients into believing that your Reiki or "Reiki" treatments can successfully treat an amputated fingertip that had not been healing. That is FRAUD.

(The laceration was an amputated fingertip that had not been healing.)

@S
It was an amputated fingertip, not an amputated leg. But even if it had been an amputated leg, once it had been seen to by a doctor and bandaged up, I would have been happy to treat it, so long as it was monitored. It's not the same as your car analogy. It would be the same if the car was still being looked after by the mechanic. But the analogy is telling, because it shows how you think of the body.

Really, @S, you have NO way of knowing.

Judith, would you care to get back to your attempt to shuck and jive about angioplasty, or is this just going to be the same miserable crap-dance that has reduced Marg to nothing but flinging petulant, stupid one-liners every now and then?

@Narad
From now on until you learn the rules of civil discourse I will just ignore you.

From now on until you learn the rules of civil discourse I will just ignore you.

L-rd knows you're good at ignoring things, Judith. How are your calculations about the energy balance of Bengston's cloud-busting working out?

one of the charges leveled at Bengston is that he is “merely” a sociologist trying to do real science; and that was said somewhere on this board.

I think this translates into "Let's you and him fight".

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

254 Judith December 9, 2012:

So it would seem that Burzynski is not in violation of any law for using his own method of chemotherapy. I guess that’s why they try to get him on technicalities like mail fraud.

Do you inform your patients about your cavalier attitude towards telling lies in order to enrich yourself to the detriment of the person you lie to? If you don't see the significance of that sentence, go look up and understand the meaning of 'fraud'.
Most people (those not in the woo business, anyway) have a thing about telling lies — it's often called ethics; sometimes called morals. Honest folks tend to take fraud seriously — to an honest person, fraud is not a technicality. By calling fraud a technicality, you have admitted all that anyone needs to know about your personal and/or professional honesty (or lack thereof).

By Bill Price (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Let's not forget that the "technicality" was insurance fraud, not "mail fraud." Perhaps they could nail him for violations of "the rules of civil discourse."

@Judith

So that's yet more comments in the 'no peer-reviewed clinical trials that energy healing works' category then?

I wish there were some sort of comment filter that took out all the tu quoque arguments. Maybe then we could discuss something else for once.

@Narad

It actually manages to implicitly tie together reiki and homeopathy.

Oddly enough, I misread that page as saying that *mime* was included. I think actually that's an apt description of what those 'experiments' are. Miming actions over people's bodies, pretending they're doing something real.

A lot of what they do is simple fraud, my friend. What I do is not.

Yeah but we can't tell because you don't have any evidence to back you up. Post some extraordinary evidence will you?

Is unnecessary back surgery not fraud? Is angioplasty that is not warranted by the patient’s condition likewise not fraud? Allowing a surgeon who lost six patients in a row during routine by-pass surgery, who routinely takes hours longer to complete the operation than his fellows, to operate on a seventh patient is worse than fraud: it’s reckless endangerment. It’s being an accessory to someone’s untimely and unnatural death. In effect, it’s licensed manslaughter.

Let's turn this around and see if you get it:

Is unecessary reiki not fraud? Is energy healing that is not warranted by the patient's condition likewise not fraud? Is ignoring underlying conditions because you have no medical training not fraud? Allowing a reiki healer who lost six patients in a row because they never followed up and didn't keep records, who routinely takes hours to complete their hand waving, to wave over a seventh patient is worse than fraud: it's reckless endangerment. It's being an accessory to someone's untimely and unnatural death. In effect, it's unlicensed manslaughter.

And shouldn't we have evidence that BOTH surgery AND reiki work and are safe?

I submit that the persecution of Burzynski is not on any kind of ethical grounds but chiefly because he takes revenue from “legitimate” doctors.

Of course you do *rolls eyes

So you'll happily criticise Big Pharma and surgeons for doing wrong, but won't do the same when it comes to another doctor doing it? Ah yes, you're just being contrarian because we're the ones doing the criticising. Why if we're doing it, he must be right!

It would seem, at least anecdotally, that at least some patients obtain better results at the Burzynski clinic.

Do we have to re-explain every logical fallacy you use every time? Or can you just stop using them?

Dr. Makary points out in his book that once a doctor is licensed he can legally do anything – brain-surgery, electro-shock therapy, even chiropractic.

Hahahah - it's like you've never heard of law suits before!

So it would seem that Burzynski is not in violation of any law for using his own method of chemotherapy. I guess that’s why they try to get him on technicalities like mail fraud.

No, he's allowed to use antineoplastons only in a trial setting. He hasn't been doing that, therefore yes, he's doing something fraudulent.

You seem to think that one shouldn't have to be honest in one's own marketing. I wonder how that applies with you and your reiki. It's clear you already have double standards as to who should be criticised and who shouldn't.

It would be the same if the car was still being looked after by the mechanic.

You missed the point: you assume that the mechanic knows what he's doing. S's point was that they don't know how to fix the car, and therefore shouldn't be doing it for money or for free, because whatever they do will either fix nothing, break something else, or be entirely useless either way.

Really, @S, you have NO way of knowing.

Neither do you. No studies, no records, nothing but anecdotes and bias.

@S

Don’t you have ANY sense of ethics?

Of course she does. It just only applies when it comes to medical care provided by SBM doctors, and not her.

Ah, damn it... Edit button now please...

Everything after

Oddly enough, I misread that page as saying that *mime* was included. I think actually that’s an apt description of what those ‘experiments’ are. Miming actions over people’s bodies, pretending they’re doing something real.

is directed at Judith.

DW: Doesn't surprise me at all. Texas is pretty dysfunctional as far as regulations go. I wish they'd just secede already.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

Judith & Marg , I "showed my work" on the energy balance of Bengston's cloud busting. I haven't seen yours.

The now defunct Righteous Indignation podcast interviewed a Reiki practitioner who's claims were much more modest (although still unsubstantiated and implausible). She said she always advised clients get medical help for medical conditions with Rieki as an adjunct. This seems to be in keeping with what I have seen of recommended practice. Judith is making claims well beyond this.

As others have pointed out, it is very telling that Judith considers "mail" (actually insurance) fraud to be a technicality. Also telling is the her conclusion that Burzynski is being "persecuted" out of greed. She appears to incapable of understanding that people might be concerned about people wasting money and what little time they have left on a bogus cure while enduring very unpleasant side effects.

And in a per-emptive rebuttal to Judith claiming that "anecdotally Burzinski's has cured some people", I would like to re-iterate that anecotally there is better evidence that extraterrestrials are shoving probes up people's butts and stealing cow anuses.

Judith - before you prattle on about the ineffectiveness of palliative chemotherapy, I would like to point out that thaks to palliative chemo, Jeff Healey was able to give his last live performance only 4 weeks before his death. For those of you who are wondering Jeff who? I offer this off topic YouTube example of this master of the Stratocaster.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=76lV-knCYws

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 09 Dec 2012 #permalink

It's a little late, but maybe worth pointing out that a systematic review of 'Therapeutic touch therapy for healing acute wounds' concluded:

There is no robust evidence that TT promotes healing of acute wounds.

Let's not forget that, as Marg told us, the esteemed Ben Goldacre described systematic reviews as:

an unbiased survey of all the evidence on a given question [...] the best-quality evidence that can be used

Let's also remember that when Cochrane says there is no robust evidence for something, in layman's terms it means it doesn't work. There is no robust evidence that an elephant was blundering about my back yard last night. If I have looked carefully, and found no footprints, no knocked-over garbage cans and none of my buns are missing, I can be fairly confident in saying that in this case, absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

BTW, S's car analogy amused me since a few years ago the end of my finger was amputated by a car while I was trying to fix it. There's a moral in there somewhere.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Judith,
Do you have some sort of mental disability or other emotional challenges that are effecting your judgement? If so, you should not be in practice. Otherwise, you are clearly a fraudulent practitioner, a con artist, and should be investigated as such.

Just to summarize things a bit,

1.) You are actively dissuading patients from seeking appropriate medical care: "suggesting that thyroid malignancies be preferentially “treated” with her own psychic specialty."

http://i.imgur.com/crOKF.png

2.) You are failing to provide patients with enough evidence so they can make informed decisions about their healthcare. Before you object to this comment, you have failed to provide us with any evidence; I seriously doubt you do otherwise with your clients. Treating patients from a distance using Reiki energy does not allow for a proper clinical exam and resultant findings to allow for fully informed decisions.

3.) You are exploiting and manipulating patients' vulnerabilities and ignorance by employing clearly false testimonials so as to further the success of your business.

4.) You are ignoring the fact that the information you post online is available to everyone and has the potential to be misconstrued. As such, you should not be giving medical advice online, especially in regards to treating possible malignancies and infections. Other patients could read your claims and misconstrue Reiki as if it of were a valid medical treatment. Your use of disclaimers are a technicality and for your protection, not that of the patient and they only serve to assist you in weaseling out of being held responsible for your actions. False claims are just that, false, regardless of whether there is a disclaimer suggesting the patient seek other medical advice or not.

@S
"Clearly false testimonials"? You are aware that that is libelous statement, are you not? Every one of those people are real, and every one of them could attest to the testimonial they gave.

People don't need to read my testimonials to "misconstrue" Reiki as a valid treatment; all they need to do is watch the endorsement by Dr. Oz, who has far more clout than I do with the masses. I believe he said that every American owed it to themselves to try Reiki, and if they had a condition doctors could not handle, they should see a Reiki practitioner. That's very strong endorsement.

You all are getting out of hand again. Civility, ladies and gentlemen. Civility.

Dr. Oz is married to a reiki salewoman. He's hardly an impartial, objective observer in this. And Oz has embraced all kinds of nonsense on his show, as has his creator Oprah. Oz has now become a laughing stock in real medical circles.

I heard that some doctors are putting up signs in their examining rooms stating "I don't care what you heard on Dr. Oz."

Green coffe extract, anyone? One of the biggest weight loss scams of this century, and Oz featured it on his show.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Texas is pretty dysfunctional as far as regulations go. I wish they’d just secede already.

Thankfully, they've been patient enough for me to get my MS, so I'll be able to get a decent job once I make the mad emigration dash.

---

As for Judith, why do you keep using anecdotes? Why haven't you learned to feel shame when trying to make a scientific case based primarily on anecdotes?

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

I was looking for a place to post this, and since Judith has derailed the thread yet again and brought up Dr. Oz, I just found my opportmunity.

PalMD is a doctor who runs a blog called White Coat Underground. He attended a seminar last week where Oz spoke, and wrote an account of both the speech and his chance to shake hands with Oz afterward.

Not only did Oz make a very tasteless joke at the end of his speech, but he told PalMD he was was doing no harm with the misinformation on his show because he "doesn't sell any products".

Orac has posted about Oz here, reinforcing that Oz has been losing credibility ever since he started his TV show. Does he even practice medicine anymore? At least he finally stopped wearing those idiotic scrubs on TV.

It's a short, entertaining read:

http://whitecoatunderground.com/

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

“Clearly false testimonials”? You are aware that that is libelous statement, are you not? Every one of those people are real, and every one of them could attest to the testimonial they gave.

Oh put your big girl panties on Judith. You are relying upon biased, regression-to-the-mean testimonials and giving medical advice via Twitter. You're hardly in a position to be whining about libel.

People don’t need to read my testimonials to “misconstrue” Reiki as a valid treatment; all they need to do is watch the endorsement by Dr. Oz, who has far more clout than I do with the masses. I believe he said that every American owed it to themselves to try Reiki, and if they had a condition doctors could not handle, they should see a Reiki practitioner. That’s very strong endorsement.

Anyone who has to rely upon a television doctor known for endorsing rubbish and not taken seriously by his peers any longer, is clearly out of their league. Reiki efficacy is falsifiable with testing so show the proof it works above and beyond placebo effect.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Here's a cut-and-paste of the salient points for those who won't click over:

The surprise of the evening was an appearance by Dr. Mehmet Oz, one of the most disruptive forces in medicine, and someone who in my opinion, confounds sideshow barker nonsense with real medical science. He gave what was supposed to be an inspirational talk, but really, he just rambled from topic to topic, often contradicting himself. And everyone was starstruck.

It seems famous people like other famous people for being famous. I cannot think of a thing Dr. Oz has to offer American health care, other than his retirement from public life. But they flocked to him in the low-ceilinged gallery, jostling each other in the close space as if fighting for a New York cab, the kind that’s never around when you need it.

I nudged slowly through the crowd of admirers and introduced myself, as a “fan and a critic.” I told him I was a fan of his ability to communicate, but that my patients don’t bring to me the message he thinks he’s delivering. They would rather find some raspberry ketone than exercise and eat better.

“I don’t sell any products. People use my image. Blah blah.”

I thanked him for his time and nudged my way back out of the crowd.

The telling moment for me was during his speech. He closed with a joke, about a patient who had made use of a ton of “complementary medicine” during her hospital stay. When confronted with the bill, she replied, “but it’s complementary!

That’s not funny. Health care is expensive, people struggle to pay their bills and are terrified for their lives. To joke about billing them for services that are worse than useless, like reiki and acupuncture, is cruel and shows a lack of compassion.

Oz is one thin wafer away from turning into Mercola.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

MSII, I read PalMD and I highly recommend his blog.

As for Dr. Oz, he is a joke, and he IS doing harm to patients. Both he and his Reiki wife. They may not sell products, but the people they 'educate' do sell those products and Reiki services to patients. Furthermore, Judith, if you get Dr. Oz to provide some evidence that Reiki is a suitable and effective treatment for an infectious disease or an infected amputation site, I will go on television and tell him that I think he is full of shit. Why does Columbia University Hospital employ him? Seriously, why?

PalMD on Oz, from earlier this summer:

Take Dr. Oz, the cardiovascular surgeon who has risen to prominence through his appearances on Oprah and now has his own show. Many of us in practice dread his name. It’s hard to find a doctor who hasn’t had to debunk Oz’s wild claims which often waste our time and our patients’ money. One of the latest wild, unfounded claims from Oz (“claims from Oz”; I’ve got to remember that one) is “Raspberry Ketone: Fat Burner in a Bottle“. His unbridled enthusiasm for this product is embarrassing.

His video makes him look like a sideshow barker, with the hyperbolic language, grandiose gestures, and distracting tricks (the balloons and liquid nitrogen—liquid N2 is always cool). But the content is far worse.

Raspberry ketone (RK) is a chemical compound which gives raspberries their characteristic aroma. Some have hypothesized that it may have a role in fat metabolism and potential as an aid to weight loss. This hypothesis has been tested—a little bit. A study in rats found that RK, when fed to rats getting a high-fat diet, may mitigate their weight gain. Another study found that certain kinds fat cells in the lab behaved differently (expressed different cytokines, accumulated fat differently) when exposed to RK.

There are a couple more similar articles—and not one study of the affects of obesity in humans, the one claim exuberantly advertised by Oz.

This is unconscionable behavior from a physician. His show is an infomercial in all but name. People suffering from obesity deserve better than a doctor who shills for the latest patent medicine.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Oh put your big girl panties on Judith. You are relying upon biased, regression-to-the-mean testimonials and giving medical advice via Twitter. You’re hardly in a position to be whining about libel.

Watch out, you'll be haled into Energy Court and wind up being assessed punitive vibrations for lack of civility.

Watch out, you’ll be haled into Energy Court and wind up being assessed punitive vibrations for lack of civility.

Too late, my comment is being held in moderation - something about Dr. Oz being full of somethin'-or-other. I'll blame the lack of civility on the bad energy from next full moon or my missing out on the ascension to wherever.

Judith:

Is unnecessary back surgery not fraud? Is angioplasty that is not warranted by the patient’s condition likewise not fraud? Allowing a surgeon who lost six patients in a row during routine by-pass surgery, who routinely takes hours longer to complete the operation than his fellows, to operate on a seventh patient is worse than fraud: it’s reckless endangerment. It’s being an accessory to someone’s untimely and unnatural death.

Yes, yes, and yes.

So what's your excuse for doing something unfounded and claiming it'll help people? That reiki can't kill anybody directly, therefore it's okay to do it without evidence? Therefore it's not fraud to represent it as something that works when you don't actually really know that? You are confident that it works. But you don't really know. There's a difference.

STS-112. The Space Shuttle Atlantis roared into space in October of 2002 on a mission to the ISS. It carried the first "rocketcam" of any Shuttle mission, which failed to record an event on the other side of the External Tank -- a piece of foam separating from the bipod ramp area. This was later observed during review of the post-separation photography of the discarded ET, and found to be responsible for the large dent observed on one of the recovered SRBs. The dent was near the lower SRB-ET attach ring -- roughly a foot away from the SRB's flight computer. Had that foam struck just a little bit over, and the SRB would have completely lost control, which likely would've given us another Challenger-style accident.

But it didn't. It was a very lucky escape. However, at the time, nobody seriously believed that foam could cause that much damage -- even after seeing the SRB from STS-112. They *knew* the foam was light and fluffy, and hey, here a big impact didn't kill them. So it wasn't classified as the anomaly it should've been. There had been other concerns during processing and launch of Atlantis, and these took precedence. Concerns about part of the main engine plumbing, and concerns about the pyrotechnics on the pad, which themselves had nearly cost the mission when not all of them fired. (SRBs igniting and not being released would be extremely bad. Loss of vehicle, personnel, and probably the entire pad structure.) They *knew* the foam wasn't as big of a problem. Foam can't kill anybody. Right?

A few months later, they learned that what they *knew* was wrong. Foam shed from the External Tank on STS-107, the last flight of Columbia, and punched a hole in a wing leading edge. They thought they knew how much force foam could exert; they thought they knew how tough the panels were. They were wrong, and seven people died. The space program nearly died. It was certainly instrumental in the decree shortly thereafter that Shuttle would terminate no later than 2010.

You *know* reiki works. You *know* that since you're not working with something dangerous, you can't be causing harm. You're wrong. If reiki works, it stands to reason it can work incorrectly. And if it doesn't work, it also stands to reason that your promotion of it delays people getting effective treatment. Treat a person's cancer with reiki for two months, and that's two more months of it getting bigger and more entrenched. Something that could be cut out safely may now require chemo. Or worse.

If nothing else, it drains their wallets. Bogus devices such as stickers you put on your cell phone to improve reception, or markers you use to color the edges of your CDs to improve sound quality, or many of the devices sold to improve your fuel economy, really do nothing except enrich the seller. They are frauds, but not ones easily prosecuted, as there is really no law against being mistaken. Go ahead, keep practicing reiki. But know that if you don't produce evidence (not just testimonials), a lot of us will put you in the same bucket as the hucksters who sell lunar real estate, which also is not what the buyers really expect to be getting.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Dr Oz has now had gay conversion therapy quacks on his show.

http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/2012/12/03/dr-oz-is-an-increasingly-d…

This is bullShit that leads to depression and suicide. It seems that it is harmful nonsense, Dr. Oz will promote it. Judith's argument appears to be that because the lizard of Oz has much wider reach than she does, what she does is OK.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Dr Oz has now had gay conversion therapy quacks on his show.

http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/2012/12/03/dr-oz-is-an-increasingly-d…

This is bull$hit that leads to depression and suicide. It seems that it is harmful nonsense, Dr. Oz will promote it. Judith’s argument appears to be that because the lizard of Oz has much wider reach than she does, what she does is OK.

Orac - please delete my comment that is in moderation - it is redundant

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

If reiki works, it stands to reason it can work incorrectly.

Moreover, unless reiki is in fact nothing,* Judith is in violation of section 27 of the Regulated Health Professions Act. Can't have it both ways.

* Including being in the nature of prayer or "spiritual" healing; actually being a form of delivery of electromagnetic or acoustic energy is right out.

Watch out, you’ll be haled into Energy Court and wind up being assessed punitive vibrations for lack of civility.

You mean I'm a bad, bad girl? That could be fun. :D

By Science Mom (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Interestingly enough, Militant Agnostic, the woo-meisters are scurrying away from him as well as sane SB people.

A week ago, Gary Null wrote to Oz ( Letter to Dr Oz; prn.fm/ also appears, courtesy of Mike Adams @ Natural News) mentioning that Oz once appeared on Null's public TV fundraisers but now has gone over to the dark side because he wrote ( in Time) that organic and GMO free foods are not all that they're hyped up to be.

The true woo instructs the semi-woo to "set aside your ego and any special interests that will have propagandized you, and that you will seek the truth, speak out and write a rebuttal". He is awaiting a response.

Ms Oz apparently used Null's studios** recently to record anti-GMO poppycock with Jeffery Smith: Null advises that the TV doc listen to her: "Certainly your own wife, a dedicated, conscientious and highly educated activist would be a great resource for you".

I see. Of course. Right.

** supposedly he maintains state-of-the-art studios from which he broadcasts his tripe and tripe created by others for both land-based and internet radio as well as piecing together barely comprehensible snippets from hardly knowledgable advocates into so-called "ground-breaking" documentaries.which are often used to raise money for non-commercial media as well as his own scrawny arse.

I guess I'm not civil either.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

@MSII

I heard that some doctors are putting up signs in their examining rooms stating “I don’t care what you heard on Dr. Oz.”

I need a T-shirt with that on it.

By Edith Prickly (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

I find it very hypocritical of Judith, who has shown her utter contempt for doctors and the medical industry here and in other threads, trots out Dr. Oz, a member of that same medical industry, when it suits her.

There's more nonsense coming up later this month on The Oz show: an episode dedicated to integrative medicine and nutrition. His guests: a nutritionist from Canada and some guy named Dr. Soram Khalsa "who is one of the leading practitioners of integrative medicine in the United States, and author of The Vitamin D Revolution".

http://www.orleansonline.ca/pages/N2012121001.htm

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Another sidebar question, but it does concern Oz. I was recording a show that comes on immediately after Oz, so my tape included the last few seconds of an Oz show last week.

The credits were already running but it looked like Oz and a female assistant on stage were snorting tea out of Chinese-looking teapots. Squat, round teapots with long thin spouts. Almost like watering cans for plants, but much smaller.

Anyone have any idea what they were doing and why? Is it some new weight loss scam? Inhale your tea, don't drink it. You save 50 calories a day this way...

I tried Googling "snorting tea" but that took me to a whole 'different place.

I wouldn't subject myself to the wonderful land of Oz by visiting his website either.

Maybe one day, like the Wizard of Oz, he'll be exposed as a phony hiding behind a curtain pulling strings.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

@ Marc Stephesn Is Insane:

from your cited article:
Ms Smart succinctly summarises Oz's major appeal to viewers: he's "good-looking"
Seriously, I'm entirely as superficial as the next person but don't the woo-meisters ( and semi-woo-meisters, like Oz) seem to depend on their looks a little too much?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

I'm guessing they were using a neti or netti pot (I've seen both spellings), which is traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine for nasal irrigation. Supposedly good for allergies, sinusitis, etc. You're supposed to pour water or saline in one nostril and let it run out the opposite nostril if I understand it correctly, essentially 'flushing out the pipes'..

Boy, that Khalsa guy is also one big stinking pile of steaming woo. Seems like he's another real doctor, well educated and trained, who has gone over to the dark side.

He claims to be a homeopath in addition to an MD. That alone proves he's faking it.

There's a big picture of him with Wayne ("I went to John of God who healed me") Dyer. Of course Khalsa has a commercial website where he sells vitamins, books, CDs, and a $75 home blood test to make sure you have enough vitamin D coursing through your body.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Denice,

My first thought looking at the Canadian nutritionist was "she's kinda hot...bet she gets her own TV show after the Oz exposure."

Yes, it's too bad that a big part of Oz's appeal is his looks. As a heterosexual male I can't judge, but do women really find him good looking? I find that pomposity and pretentiousness can negate anyone's good looks and become a turn off, and that's happened to me with some women I've known.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Just think how boring this thread would be if everyone got on it just to agree with Orac. Someone's got to be on the other side, otherwise it's just a chorus line singing "Bad Burzynski, Bad Burzynski!"

JCG,

OK, that I can understand. I have chronic congestion issues and use an expensive pressurized sea water spray from France. Something called Hydro something or other (I'm too lazy to move the laptop off my lap and go check). If a cheap little clay pot and tap water and salt do the same thing, I would try it.

I have to do some research on that. Ayurvedic or not, water up the nostrils is water up the nostrils. It's not like Oz is recommending any kind of magic water or solution in the pot.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Judith,

According to another poster here all the comments agreeing with Orac are in fact posted by Orac using a database of alternate personalities.

What if Judith, Marge, Didy, Mel and KemDom are all the same person?

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

@ JGC:

My exact thoughts. In addition, isn't tea astringent? Also green tea ( the woo's choice) is high in anti-oxidants ( ORAC value) and other Gaia-blest components of the elixir-of-life?**

** Lord! I am becoming conversant in woo parlance..it just flows.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Edith,

There's an online company that will do one-off print jobs of anything you want on T-shirts, mugs, mouse pads, etc. They use an automated printing system so it's cheap and fast. I can find the link if you really want.

Love your 'nym too! Was/am still a major SCTV fan and Andrea Martin fan. I also loved her foreign character Pirini Sclerosa. Might have spelled that wrong/

Andrea's a fellow Canuck!

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

OK, that I can understand. I have chronic congestion issues and use an expensive pressurized sea water spray from France. Something called Hydro something or other (I’m too lazy to move the laptop off my lap and go check).

Artist's Reconstruction.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

@ Marc Stephes Is Insane:

He's not bad but not especially good either- and I am usually attracted to the Mediterranean-ish types. I also don't think much of his fellow woo-tastic hottie-boy's ( AJW's) looks either. And it's not just all of the bad stuff I know about him biasing my judgment: I am experienced enough to be able to separate looks from other factors. I know plenty of good-looking idiots and everyday-looking, brilliant people who have other charms.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Herr Dok,

That illustration is hilarious!

I am a homebrewer but never got into kegging. I still bottle. If I did use kegs I could simply fill a soda keg with salt water and then use a CO2 tank to blast it through my nasal passages at 10 or 15 PSI!

That's kind of what the drawing looks like.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Regarding neti pots:

There was a study a while back which concluded that they do work (which shouldn't be too surprising, since they mechanically flush the sinuses -- what could remove snot better than, well, removing the snot directly?), but that prolonged use can cause damage, by drying out the sinuses. (You want *some* mucus in there, after all.) The study was using saline solution, IIRC. They found it worked about as well as nasal irrigation bottles. It really is basically the same principle anyway, only in one case you're squirting it and in the other case you're getting gravity to do the work. So if the whole idea doesn't totally gross you out (it does me, and I can't stand nasal sprays), go for it! But if you need it for months, you probably have a bigger problem that needs fixing.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Judith, you have a poor imagination if you suggest we always agree with Orac on everything. We do agree quite often, since he typically backs up his arguments and uses valid logic. But that's exactly the reason to agree with someone, and not evidence of hive-mindedness or political loyalties.

Of course, specifically with Burzynski, I see no legitimate controversy. He's a for-profit quack who refuses to publish results after decades of quite evidently shoddy "research." The excuses offered for Burzynski tend to be rather cavalier about ignoring the consumers' rights, privileging profitability over ethics, or dismissive of Burzynski's status as a mere human being, deifying him as beyond moral or epistemological reproach. Even if Burzynski's treatments actually work, he's still a monster for suppressing his own results instead of showing us the data that will convince scientifically-minded people. If he's not a monster, why would he only have people offering cherry-picked anecdotes like all the other quacks?

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Denice,

OT, but since when is monitoring the antics of Mikey Adams ever off topic? (Did I get that intro right? It's my tribute to you...)

My blood is boiling. Mikey promotes the scientology front group CCHR (Citizens' Commission on Human Rights) in one of today's postings. It's a piece on "How Our Children Are Being Poisoned" or some nonsense. His last example is psych drugs given to kids, and then he recommends the CCHR for their work fighting psych drugs.

The CCHR's motto is "Psychiatry: An Indsutry of Death" and they have a museum dedicated to that purpose on Sunset Blvd. (or Hollywood Blvd.?) in LA. They blame the holocaust on psychiatrists. Their sole purpose is a gateway to scientology.

I find it ironic that Mr. Freedom Fighter Mikey is supporting an organization (scientology) that strips away every shred of personal freedom and turns its members into mindless, unthinking zombies who hand over hundreds of thousands of dollars for the privilige of reading some kooky science fiction.

If I was a member I'd post a comment to let others know that CCHR IS scientology. I have a feeling many of Mikey's readers would have a problem supporting that.

Sorry again to go OT (a pun there, for any other scilon watchers) but I had to vent. Besides, it's better than hearing about Judith's handwaving.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Just think how boring this thread would be if everyone got on it just to agree with Orac. Someone’s got to be on the other side, otherwise it’s just a chorus line singing “Bad Burzynski, Bad Burzynski!”

So you think your aimless, error-prone subject-changing and trying to play Emily F*cking Post when this is pointed out is some sort of improvement?

That illustration is hilarious!

It puts me in mind of a Glen Baxter cartoon gone horribly wrong. I think that's James Joyce on the left, in the bowtie, explaining to his newly-hired secretary (Sam Beckett, on the right) the full range of his secretarial duties.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

And to bring this around full circle, one of the CCHR's advisors is our good friend and noted anti-psych doctor, Julian Whitaker.

Who also happens to be one of Burzynski's sole supporters.

They are cooking up something to do with their anti-aging products. I see a chain of Burzynski-Whitaker anti-aging clinics across Asia soon.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

For what it's worth, my internist--who's about as hard core SBM as they get--is always trying to convince me to give neti pots a try if I've got a cold/allergies. But if I'm sick and congested, last thing I want is to waterboard myself...

Of course, even in the case of Burzynski, we can discuss exactly why he's wrong in detail and use him as an illustration of how not to do medicine or how to spot a flagrant fraud using textbook con artist rhetoric.

Yes, there is such a thing as reasons why something is wrong, and they are independent of the political or corporate affiliation of the wrongdoer.

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Judith - did it ever occur to you that the you can find (and criticize) the efficacy studies on Conventional Cancer treatments for the very reason that they are put up to be scrutinized, studied, replicated, and posted publicly?

What doesn't Dr. B have to go through the same process? What makes him so special?

So you think your aimless, error-prone subject-changing and trying to play Emily F*cking Post when this is pointed out is some sort of improvement?

So much for me addressing this. I guess it's naughty vibrational energy purgatory for us. Squeeee.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

@ Marc Stephens Is Insane:

Pretty close- the intro should be a tad longer. It's all in the meter...( e.g. OT: BUT is mildly-entertaining but totally unrealistic speculation by alt media honchos EVER TRULY OT @ RI? - or suchlike) but thanks, it's nice to be quoted or emulated..flattery will get you everywhere.

The anti-psychiatry movement ( Hubbard's Folly) recognises woo-meisters like Adams. Null and his PRN croney, Peter Breggin are also in the loop.** Orthomolecular woo fits right in with mega-doses of vitamins. Orac cited Tufted Titmouse's ( see RI search fx) video of ( possibly) a young MIkey as Scientologist.

** as well as loopy.

At any rate,

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Actually, Judith would probably get along well with the scientologists. They believe in something called "touch assists" which is very similar to handwaving, except you actually have to touch the person you're "helping".

Travolta and Cruise have both claimed to use touch assists at accident scenes. In fact Cruise said scientologists are the "only ones" who can help at accident scenes.

The cult sends out "volunteer ministers" in bright yellow T-shirts to disaster areas to administer these touch assists and hand out scientology pamphlets.

What's dispicable, and is well-documented, was their behaviour at Ground Zero after 9/11. They kept sneaking into the restricted areas, lying about wanting to give the emergency workers bottles of water. They set up their tents inside these areas and then tried to divert the police, fire and rescue workers away from the psychological help that was being offered to the traumatized.

There are actual e-mails available online from scientology leaders dated 9/11 and 9/12 instructing exactly how to lie their way into these areas and interfere with genuine help.

NYPD kept escorting them out but they'd always find a way to sneak back in.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

@ Marc Stephens Is Insane

Would you be on the MontreAlers mailing list by any chances?

Alain

Alain,

Oh oh...do we know each other?

Yes, but not actively. I was one of the founding members with DB et al back in the early 2000's. I haven't brewed in a long time and am looking to sell my entire set-up. Some very high-end stuff.

In fact DB and I went to Concordia together, lost touch for two decades and then "reunited" through homebrewing.

But how can that be? I'm Orac!!

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

@ MSII

Look me up, Alain Toussaint on the mailing list. Recently, I was speaking about SMaSH (single malt, single hops) brewing for research purpose on hops.

In my case, I have about 200$ worth of brewing equipment and I do partial mash recipes (with at most 1kg of grain and 1kg of dry malt extract for 2 imperial gallons of worth).

Alain

OK...I hate to sound paranoid but there are enough clues now out there if someone really wants figure out who I am.
I'll get in touch with you privately but let's keep this off the 'Alers board since I use my real name there.

Other people here have been threatened and since I use a rather, err, contentious 'nym I'd prefer to keep my real name private.

We'll have to set up a meeting at Benelux or DDC sometime soon.

A bientot!

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

À bientôt and don't worry.

Alain

Denice,

Thanks for the tip. As always, Orac's already done that. I only started reading the blog earlier this year so there's a lot I haven't seen.

That video has been ridiculed many times by Tony Ortega (the Orac of scientology blogs) since the leader of the cult David Miscavige is about 5'3"., singing "We Stand Tall". In pictures with his boyfriend Tom Cruise, Cruise towers over him and Cruise is barely 5'6" himself. But never did I realize that might be Mikey in the clip.

And the entire reason scientology hates psychiatry is simply because it's competition. Hubbard invented scientology to be a form of therapy, that why he used all the scienc-ey names. When he was laughed out of the room he declared war on psychiatry and changed scientology into a religion.

As we say, there is no science in scientology!

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Judith has inspired me to put in another plug for my magic carpet. Consider how many perfectly healthy people are killed by cars and trucks on the roads every year. Think of all the unsafe vehicles on the roads; faulty brakes, cars that rip off the end of your finger, or burst into flames unexpectedly (I have personally experienced all of these). There are those who drive when they are tired, drunk or on drugs, and other drivers who turn a blind eye to this. Think of all those unnecessary journeys that end in tragedy. It's terrible.

That's why you should buy my magic carpet. My magic carpet is a wave-like system that works on the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Quantum physics tells us that we can't be sure where the magic carpet is if we know its velocity; we always know its velocity because its velocity is always zero, so we can never be sure where it is at any time without looking. By sitting on a magic carpet and closing your eyes, you and the carpet enter a state of quantum uncertainty, in which you might or might not be at your desired destination. What decides whether the state vector collapses into a reality in which you and the carpet are at your destination? Consciousness, of course. It does take someone with a moderately advanced state of consciousness to use the magic carpet effectively, so if it doesn't work, its your fault for not using it right.

Magic carpets don't kill anyone*, they don't function if the user is drunk or on drugs, they don't need brakes or tires, they have no moving parts, cost nothing to run and are environmentally friendly - no greenhouse gases! I know that there is little evidence to support their efficacy, but that's because it costs a lot of money to research a new mode of transport, and I don't have the sort of money petrochemical companies have. Anyway, they fake all their studies and cars don't really work anyway.

* OK there may have been a couple of incidents when people didn't get to a hospital in time to get life-saving treatment, but that was their fault for panicking and not concentrating hard enough, or perhaps it was the blood loss, or their negative attitude or something. Anyway they should have called an ambulance - I do tell people the magic carpet is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for other forms of transport.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

it’s just a chorus line singing “Bad Burzynski, Bad Burzynski!”

The concept of "Burzynski: The Musical" fills me with trepidation. Especially if Andrew Lloyd Webber is involved.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

No, let's get Trey Parker and Matt Stone on it. They could skewer Burzynski the way they skewered Mormonism on Broadway.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Krebiozen,

I prefer to attach a strong Brownian motion generator (say, a cup of really HOT tea) to an Infinite Improbability Drive, with similar results.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Krebiozen,

My way avoids the risk of near fatal rug burns.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

My way avoids the risk of near fatal rug burns.

True, but I'm working on a homeopathic ointment for that, and my method does have thousands of years of tradition behind it.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Chemomo: Would you care to look beyond your own experience and explain to me why you would suggest home schooling parents would be better at identifying and dealing with learning disabilities than the trained public school teachers who failed you?

Just saw this comment way upthread. First of all a few parents might be suffering from learning disabilities themselves, and might be able to teach the child coping strategies. A busy, overworked teacher has no time for that. Secondly, they'd provide a safe environment (not found at public schools), and unlike the teacher, they'd get out of the way while the child is learning.

MSII: Isn't there some risk of introducing an amoeba into the soft tissue? I seem to remember hearing about people who died that way.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

MSII: Isn’t there some risk of introducing an amoeba into the soft tissue? I seem to remember hearing about people who died that way.

PGP,

Not sure to what you're referring with this comment...

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

@MSII, PG, Only distilled or purified water should be used in a neti pot. There have been a few deaths from infections transmitted when people use tap or regular filtered water.

http://www.medpagetoday.com/InfectiousDisease/InfectionControl/30283

I haven't seen neti pots used with tea. Next they will be putting coffee in them, just like the enemas. I recently read about someone using cayenne pepper enemas. Do you recommend those too, Judith? Dangerous stuff.

Not sure to what you’re referring with this comment…

This, presumably. (The CBS hed is way better, though, because they use "brain-eating.")

Oh, OK. Now I understand. Thanks for the warning.

I never thought there was really tea in the pot. I was referring to the shape of the pot as a teapot and said it looked like Oz was snorting tea.

If Gerson says it's OK to squirt coffee up your bum, then tea up the nostrils must be like a walk in the park...

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

If Gerson says it’s OK to squirt coffee up your bum, then tea up the nostrils must be like a walk in the park…

It's illustrated in the demonstration video above, as well as one final test liquid.

Haven't watched the video yet. I'm running my computer in safe mode trying to isolate a redirecting virus I picked up somewhere.

Maybe I need some homeopathic anti-virus software.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

@ MSII,

Do you have a ubcd4win dvd around? I do and I'm in Montreal next Thursday.

Alain

Actually, it's coffee in the video. Enema talk tends to distract me like that.

I swear, whenever our esteemed and gracious host is absent for a while, people start discussing-
cooking, brewing alcoholic beverages and/ or shoving liquids up nether-parts. 2 out of 3 here.
I am never disappointed.

-btw- I am the proud descendent of a fellow who created a spectacular gin which earned him a great deal of money. I am very glad about that.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

I’m running my computer in safe mode trying to isolate a redirecting virus I picked up somewhere.

I hear that coffee into the output port works wonders.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

You must use caffeinated coffee in order for it to be effective.

I've already sprinkled baking soda over the keys and might rub some black salve on the screen.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

Anyone know if Mercola or Adams sell a USB/MMS interface?

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

They do, but it comes with a bleach enema.

Look, if you can get power out of a USB port, you can put it right back in. Just get a UART adaptor and feed that thing a nice strong 30 kHz square wave, like Hulda said.

HDB,

Does it come with an irascible and self-important talking bird?

Just a Psammead, but you have to be a truly skilled meditator to be able to see it. I do love C. S. Lewis (joke).

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 10 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Judith

“Clearly false testimonials”? You are aware that that is libelous statement, are you not? Every one of those people are real, and every one of them could attest to the testimonial they gave.

... needs to spend some time over at Popehat.

Exactly what is libellous about the statements? Remember, the more vague your threats, the more likely they are hollow. Not to mention that hyperbole and opinion is not usually considered as slander/libel.

People don’t need to read my testimonials to “misconstrue” Reiki as a valid treatment; all they need to do is watch the endorsement by Dr. Oz, who has far more clout than I do with the masses.

Yeah, why pay attention to things like evidence and peer-reviewed trials when they can just get their info from the TV! I mean, the TV has never been wrong before has it?

I believe he said that every American owed it to themselves to try Reiki, and if they had a condition doctors could not handle, they should see a Reiki practitioner. That’s very strong endorsement.

From a guy who believes that you can tell what medical problems you're having by *smelling your own urine*.

Sure, ok... nice argument from authority you got there.

You all are getting out of hand again. Civility, ladies and gentlemen. Civility.

POST SOME FRICKING EVIDENCE and then maybe we'd be less inclined to get annoyed over your continuous repetition of the same boring old arguments over and over and over and over and over .... and over and over and over .... and over and over...

Disagreement is fine, but do we have to rehash the same disagreements every comment?

Seriously, how long has this reiki argument been going, since August? And yet still no clinical trials saying it works!

And thank you for once again ignoring my points. Feel free to sue me for calling you a crank and a hypocrite.

@MSII

Not only did Oz make a very tasteless joke at the end of his speech, but he told PalMD he was was doing no harm with the misinformation on his show because he “doesn’t sell any products”.

Seriously? How can anyone be that stupid?

@Militant Agnostic

Popehat recently discussed conversion therapy - it got banned in California.

@DW

Ms Smart succinctly summarises Oz’s major appeal to viewers: he’s “good-looking”
Seriously, I’m entirely as superficial as the next person but don’t the woo-meisters ( and semi-woo-meisters, like Oz) seem to depend on their looks a little too much?

Considering the makeup of the target audience of Oprah, are you really surprised? 90% of her fan base will be middle-aged women. Translate that across to Oz and Phil, and you get more 'good looking' and less of anything else.

It's TV for goodness sakes. It's always going to be about looks, especially in Hollywood-fantasy land.

@Krebiozen

Love the magic carpet! Where do I send my bucks? I will buy 50. Be warned though, my money may or may not exist. If it doesn't appear in 5 days, you will need to remote view it into your hands.

Ms Smart succinctly summarises Oz’s major appeal to viewers: he’s “good-looking”
Seriously, I’m entirely as superficial as the next person but don’t the woo-meisters ( and semi-woo-meisters, like Oz) seem to depend on their looks a little too much?

The more I hear and see Oz, the less attractive he becomes. I can barely stand to look at him anymore. Although I don't personally know PalMD, I've come to trust his statements as many of them parallel with my own experiences and views. Oz implying that he does no harm because he does not sell any products is despicable. He is indeed on TV promoting the remedy du jour instead of sound medical advice.

He closed with a joke, about a patient who had made use of a ton of “complementary medicine” during her hospital stay. When confronted with the bill, she replied, “but it’s complementary!

That’s not funny. Health care is expensive, people struggle to pay their bills and are terrified for their lives. To joke about billing them for services that are worse than useless, like reiki and acupuncture, is cruel and shows a lack of compassion.

It's not funny, not in the least. I have to go now and douse my television with water. I see it now, it's melting, it's melting.

@Flip
You need to read up on the rules on libel.

flip,

Love the magic carpet! Where do I send my bucks?

As soon as I've finished setting up my sweatshop ethnic carpet workshop, and my Seychelles bank account I'll let you know.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

S: Thanks. My memory is random access sometimes. I should really have remembered more, considering that we had two deaths caused by amoebic infection over the summer. Same thing as the neti pot; we had no spring turnover or frost last year, so the lakes became rather swampy.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Judith:

You need to talk to a lawyer. In the US, at least, expressions of opinion are generally not actionable. See Keohane v. Stewart, 882 P.2d 1293. 129 (Colo. 1994). among many, many others.

@ Judith

please, please, please, please, PLEASE try and sue for libel. Then you will have to prove that your medical treatment of hand waving allied with wishing REALLY hard works in order to prove that the testimonials are not "clearly false".

Could someone arrange to film the ensuing debacle? It would be comedy gold................

@Judith

You need to read up on the rules on libel.

And which ones would those be? Can you cite precedent of any law suits as an example? Can you sue someone of libel if you're in one country and they're in another, and how likely is it that you'd win given the different "rules" that apply in different countries?

Three comments to define what comments and where were libellous. The third, and you admit that you are being vague because your threats are hollow.

But I see that again you pick and choose what you respond to. 90% of my comment was ignored...

@Krebiozen

As soon as I’ve finished setting up my sweatshop ethnic carpet workshop, and my Seychelles bank account I’ll let you know.

Sure, just shoot me a message via the universal consciousness when you're ready to sell.

"Libel, defamation: a false and malicious published statement that damages somebody's reputation."

@Judith, Please post here the evidence that Reiki is an alternative, safe and effective means of treating amputation site infections in humans, poison ivy, thyroid cancer, etc. Otherwise, I fail to see how anyone expressing an opinion that Reiki is a fraudulent treatment for such infections, or a practitioner as fraudulent who either treats such infections with Reiki or makes misleading use of claims and testimonials to that same effect, is guilty of libel. Perhaps others here who are more experienced can clarify this misunderstanding.

Calling a false statement false, is generally known as speaking the truth. In this case, the truth is backed up by solid evidence, and the Reiki claims are not.

You need to read up on the rules on libel.

Or, perhaps, you need to read up on the Competition Act, because you make numerous performance representations that likely fail the "adequate and proper test" standard, such as this:

I have helped numerous clients with chronic injuries. Frozen shoulders, painful knees, post-surgical impairment have all improved with bioenergetic care.

In fact, you may not even have gotten those testimonials adequately sanitized from assertions of causality.

Just some speculation following S's words:
I think that one of the reasons that woo-meisters are able to garner and maintain an audience is because many people ASSUME that these informants not lying-
they might suppose that those who broadcast mis-information or write up nonsense would be subject to legal intervention SO therefore it must be true!

So prevaricators rely upon the trust of the gullible and the latter's belief in an oversight system that somehow punishes fabricators ( who aren't haunted by their own consciences).

If it's in a book, on the radio, on television, in the papers, on the internet... it must be true or else those responsible would get into trouble. The fact that it is public and said with confidence assures the audience. Add to this that it usually answers the audience's wildest dreams.

I hear and read lies that make me sick. I have heard and read incredible amounts of outright fabrication as well as mis-representaion / mis-understanding of data . And I do feel sumpathy for the victims because they probably just don't have the skills to decipher or the strength to withstand alt media's assault.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Denice, I hear you. It boils down to the fact (my opinion) that patients should be able to trust that their medical practitioner is acting in the best interest of the patient. Exploiting and misleading patients, regardless of the means, does not classify as acting in the best interest of the patient. I've come to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on this matter. It's certainly not winning me any friends locally, but at least some people here seem to understand, and. I deeply appreciate and need that understanding and support.

So prevaricators rely upon the trust of the gullible and the latter’s belief in an oversight system that somehow punishes fabricators

Canada can be quite severe in this regard. In Richard v. Time, the plaintiff recently received a $16,000 judgment under the Quebec Consumer Protection Act over one of those idiotic mailings that are made to draw one in by looking as though they are a notification of having won a sweepstakes, and this was in the absence of any compensatory damages whatever.

Of course, any Canadian readers who would like to inquire with the Competition Bureau as to the legality of Judith's representations in advertising Toronto Bioenergy Associates may do so conveniently.

Narad,

Quebec actually has some of the toughest consumer protection laws anywhere in North America. Many times a national contest by a major advertiser (like, say McDonald's giving away trips) is not valid in Quebec because the laws surrounding contests and prizes are much stricter. Advertisers simply opt out of Quebec rather than change the contest to comply with our laws.That applies to contracts, store purchases, door-to-door sales, leases, health club memberships, everything.

And someone mentioned Popehat: this thread really is beginning to look and sound more like that blog. In fact I strumbled onto RI only because of Popehat (the original Burzynski threats last November that spawned the immortal "snort my taint" reaction).

If Judith did try something stupid like a lawsuit, Ken and his lawyers at Popehat would be here helping us immediately. I don't think Judith wants to experience the "Streisand effect" or the worldwide humiliation that Ken and his alliance of bloggers and legal writers would surely bring her.

Next thing you know, Orac will be asking for ponies!

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

I dunno, MSII; Judith has demonstrated an insanely high tolerance for public humiliation, thus far.

Quebec actually has some of the toughest consumer protection laws anywhere in North America.

The actual decision in this case, however, appears to exend the "credulous and inexperienced consumer" standard to the interpretation of all such provincial law. Moreover, the Competition Act provides more severe penalties for those who satisfy a test that includes targeting the vulnerable. You know, kinda like this:

In the words of a client of mine, your doctor has given up on you and you have given up on your doctor. What more can be done?

Merely a prologue to what Ken et al would subject her to. Have you ever seen what Popehat doesn't to "censorious asshats", as Ken calls them?

I've written him privately about a few issues up here. I think he'd be keen to shine the light on Judith's rants.

And that's something she does not want.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

DOH!

Should have typed "...what Popehat does to 'censorious asshats'"...

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Here, we can give Judith some fuel to start her lawsuit.

In my opinion, every single word on Judith's corporate website is a lie and I believe she made up every one of those testimonials. I do not belive Judith can successfully treat any medical condition except by placebo effect and I believe either the testimonials o her site are fake or the people who gave them are lying.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

I will bring popcorn. I want to see this. Of course, we've rather wandered afield of Burzynski, but we've got the arrogance of ignorance on display in spades.

I use a sinus irrigation bottle regularly; I've had issues with chronic sinusitis for years (they keep doing CT scans of my head and can't find any physical issues), and it does seem to help. Instead of getting infections at least quarterly, I'm down to about 1.5 a year on average, and their severity has gone way down. (I believe I can probably also thank HiB vaccinations in small children for the dramatic decrease in really bad sinus infections I've had in the last 10 years or so. That nasty little bug *loves* sinuses, and I used to get *incredibly* bad infections on a relatively regular basis.)

By Interrobang (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

@MSII

And someone mentioned Popehat: this thread really is beginning to look and sound more like that blog. In fact I strumbled onto RI only because of Popehat (the original Burzynski threats last November that spawned the immortal “snort my taint” reaction).

That was me. And I happened upon it in the opposite way. I found it via this site I think...

Speaking of advertising: do Americans have some sort of media watchdog? We have one here, but it's both toothless and self-administered, making media rather free to do what they like with the truth. There's been some controversy over it recently - thanks to Murdoch and his ilk - because the government would like to implement a more stringent watchdog organisation, but naturally the media don't want to know.

Anyway - can you report Oz, etc to some sort of media watchdog?

Next thing you know, Orac will be asking for ponies!

LOL! I think he would be asking for replacement light bulbs for his blinking box ;)

In my opinion, every single word on Judith’s corporate website is a lie and I believe she made up every one of those testimonials. I do not belive Judith can successfully treat any medical condition except by placebo effect and I believe either the testimonials o her site are fake or the people who gave them are lying.

I agree. Furthermore, I will add that I do not believe Judith could provide one whit, one sentence, one data point, to prove that reiki works.

I missed my bus today - by just a few seconds because I had to walk slowly to the stop because of icy conditions. I arrived just in time to see the bus pull away. I waved my hands and hoped the driver would see me. He didn't, so I had to wait in the freezing cold for the next one.

Two questions spring to mind..

1) Does that make me a Reiki Master (especially since the hand waving and wishing didn't work)?

2) Can I too invest in the Magic Carpet?

Why did The Who song "Magic Bus" just pop into my head?

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Just to point out something obvious: I don't seriously assert the testimonials are intentional deception, at least not when they were provided by the speaker. The unintentional falsehood is born of self-deception and the easy trust alties ask for.

We expect that some people will feel better after a quackery treatment. Without placebo-controlled experiments, we can't justify the interpretation that reiki or antineoplastons were responsible for any anecdotal improvement. We can't justify that interpretation because we know that there are numerous, more parsimonious explanations such as natural healing, spontaneous remission, the self-limiting nature of some conditions, dumb luck, the regressive fallacy, confirmation bias, selection bias, post hoc ergo proctor hoc fallacy, the use of proven treatments alongside the quack treatment, and so on and so on. Those things happen because we're dealing with humans.

Of course, because it's expected that some people will feel better, quacks who are knowing, deliberate frauds can expect a supply of positive testimonials so long as the fake treatment isn't more dangerous than bloodletting. We know that they know this and that they'd try to exploit their victims' cognitive biases by using testimonials, which is why we aren't convinced by testimonials and demand they run clinical tests and publish results. It's much more difficult for a knowing fraud to perform valid scientific trials and get the results they want. They also typically lack the incentive to try if they think they can convince people to go down the easy path of anecdotalism.

Burzynski's an odd but unsurprising case because he went through some legal hoops to earn the facade of being scientific, but now that he's got that, he relies on anecdotalism like a knowing, anti-science quack and lets people freely make the sloppy interpretation that his treatments are responsible even though he's been dragging his heels for decades when it comes to publishing the scientific results that really matter. Gee, I wonder why.

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

To break up the frivolity for one moment, last night someone posted an update on the little Burzynski patient whose father wrote to us. (Response to a Burzyski parent thread.) They've temporarily suspended the antineoplastons and are consulting with real doctors at Great Ormond Street. That hospital seems to have to clean up its fair share of Stan's messes.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Bronze Dog,

Exactly. Burzynski plays both sides of the FDA game--he'll mention his Phase II and III (sic) trials up the wazoo, as if he's part of the system, but then spins everything to make them into his mortal enemy. Listen your little brain, Stan: which one is it? Ally or enemy?

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Bronze Dog,

re: Intentional Deception

A similar discussion often comes in my cult-related threads (and if reiki isn't a cult, I don't know what is). The question is, how many people involved in the organization are "in on it" (i.e. know it's a scam and are merely doing it for the $) and how many people are sincere, genuine believers? And how high up the power pyramid do you have to go to switch over from one to the other? I think in a cult like scientology there's a combination of both; the brainwashed and the corrupt. If Judith is "in on it" I bet her staff are real believers though.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

I think in a cult like scientology there’s a combination of both; the brainwashed and the corrupt.

Aren't the higher echelons told we are all literally possessed by space aliens? Or was that just Elron's little joke?

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

@MSII

To break up the frivolity for one moment, last night someone posted an update on the little Burzynski patient whose father wrote to us. (Response to a Burzyski parent thread.) They’ve temporarily suspended the antineoplastons and are consulting with real doctors at Great Ormond Street. That hospital seems to have to clean up its fair share of Stan’s messes.

If true, I sincerely hope that the family did not take too harshly to our words. And that those words helped... and that they all receive respite, care and love.

I just posted another update on the specific thread. It's up at the top of Insolence Returned. Not good news.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Kreb,

Yup, scamology is all about getting rid of those pesky body thetans. Space cooties. From 75 million years ago, after Xenu blew up prisoners in volcanoes. Their souls floated through the atmosphere and attached themselves to meat bodies. Get rid ofthe BTs and achieve happiness and immortality.

You used to have pay a quarter-million or so to learn this. Now you can just watch "South Park".

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Hey, @Mark Stephens Is Insane, it's easy to hide behind a pseudonym. Come and say all that to me in person. You are a Canuck; I bet you are polite and decent in person, but give a man a pseudonym and a computer screen to hide behind, and he feels free to let loose with all manner of incivility and insults. And that goes for @Narad too, and some others.

@Denice Walter
I personally am sickened by the fraud, incompetence and greed perpetrated by the medical establishment and the pharmaceutical companies. I said before, read Marty Makary's Unaccountable. Here is why he quit medicine:

"I felt disillusioned. It seemed as if, despite all the book knowledge I gained, nearly half of the patients I saw in the clinics had problems for which modern medicine had nothing to offer except phony names for diseases we didn't understand. The other half ... seemed to be sick because they were obese, smoking, or not taking care of themselves -- preventable problems." (emphasis mine)

He did in time return to medicine & resolved to practice it honestly, which he essentially felt many of his colleagues did not do.

Do you know that between July 2009 and September 2010 there were approximately 17,000 totally unwarranted angioplasties done on nonacute patients, to the tune of $15,000 to $100,000 per operation, even though a study published in 2007 showed that nonacute patients had no better outcomes with angioplasties than with medication and lifestyle changes? The same with back surgeries. Most patients do just as well if not better with medication, physiotherapy and exercise. But, hey, someone's got to pay for those cardiac surgeons' and back surgeons' expensive tastes. Preventive health would do them out of hundreds upon hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. In the meantime people go bankrupt paying their medical bills; America itself goes bankrupt paying for medical bills.

And do you think that pharmaceutical companies keep getting fined upwards of two billion dollars because they perpetrate fraud on a small scale?

And did you know that hospital administrators send emails to surgeons reminding them that it's the end of the fiscal year and it's time to step up those surgeries because their bonus depends on their performance?

Burzynski is a small-scale operator compared to some of these guys, but they all get a free pass from you and your brethren here because, oh my God, they are DOCTORS, don't you know! Doctors, the very next thing to God! Yes, let us all bow down to doctors and the holy institution of medicine in America! It's a religion, and Makary compares it to the Catholic church in the way it protects its own against scrutiny and censure.

@Judith, it is because of people like you who despite the evidence continue to sell bogus treatments to patients that I continue to post here. If bogus practitioners would stop feeding off vulnerable patients, blog posts like this would not be necessary. You did not respond to my request.

“Libel, defamation: a false and malicious published statement that damages somebody’s reputation.”

@Judith, Please post here the evidence that Reiki is an alternative, safe and effective means of treating amputation site infections in humans, poison ivy, thyroid cancer, etc. Otherwise, I fail to see how anyone expressing an opinion that Reiki is a fraudulent treatment for such infections, or a practitioner as fraudulent who either treats such infections with Reiki or makes misleading use of claims and testimonials to that same effect, is guilty of libel.

If Reiki is used to treat an infection, then Reiki is being used in a fraudulent manner.

Judith, it's s been explained to you multiple times now that no one is arguing that anyone be given a free pass. No one has argued that doctors are priveleged much less divine.

Burzynski is ripping off desperate people when they're most vulnerable. Small fry or otherwise such behavior demands exposure.

@S
Did you know that Reiki is used in some of the best hospitals in North America? Or that Dr. Oz was not the only one to introduce a Reiki practitioner into his operating room, but so did, more recently, his colleague Dr. Sheldon Marc Feldman, Chief of the Division of Breast Surgery in New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center? He gave a talk about his experiences at a Reiki conference last fall. The title of the talk was "Optimizing surgery with Reiki".

Reiki is not used to treat an infection; Reiki is used to help the person's body fight off the infection. There is a difference. Generally speaking, both Oz and his colleague Dr. Feldman found that people who received Reiki during their operations tended to do better post-operatively than people who didn't. I know several doctors who either do Reiki themselves or go for treatments; I have treated doctors and even a scientist. So don't set yourselves up as judge and jury on this; you are just showing your ignorance.

@JGC

It is pointless trying to reason with Judith. She has amply demonstrated that she is either incapable of understanding or unwilling to understand that her point of view is irrelevant to this thread.

To her all medical establishment types must be bad because.............errr ........... they belong to the medical establishment.

Stan the man on the other-hand is just a poor, downtrodden, maverick, misunderstood genius. Reiki is scorned here, and she KNOWS that that cant be right, so her tortured logic tells her that Burzynski is being unfairly persecuted too.

She just keeps throwing in the same red herring time after time:

"All human beings are capable of dishonesty and incompetence"

It is laughable.

MarkL,

Did Judith not see the half-day of comments here discrediting Oz and showing what a laughingstock he is? It is pointed out to her that HE IS MARRIED TO A REIKI SALESWOMAN and is therefore hardly impartial. He is close to being considered a quack himself these days. And yet she still comes back with Dr. Oz this, Dr. Oz that. We are not impressed and we don't care.

And Judith, I have told psychic type people they are frauds and phonies to their faces. I don't use obscene language and I don't consider that to be insulting. If I said they were fat and phony, or ugly and phony, that would be insulting. But to call out someone as a fraud when they are indeed a fraud is not insulting.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

I'll save Judith the trouble of posting this link. Yes, this Dr. Feldman is connected to Oz and shills for of reiki. I'm still digging into his history to find something like he's also married to a reiki saleswoman. The closest I've come is that Oz's reiki person is business partner with the reiki guy that Feldman uses.

Dig that groovy Oz quote at the very top of this page:

http://www.ravenkeyes.com/node/6

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

Did you know that Reiki is used in some of the best hospitals in North America?

Your point? Simply because a hospital uses a product does not mean that the product or service is effective. It only means that the product is in demand, people buy into it. No one is saying that the relaxation effect of Reiki is not soothing or helpful. So is knitting, listening to music, massage,...

You like to talk in circles when you can't provide any evidence, don't you? Hopefully you'll have to explain that to a judge one day - try and jerk one of them around.

Dr. and Mrs. Oz have a lot to lose when more people become aware of their practices. As do their friends, the other medical predators in New York that he likely teaches.

I'm past the bounds of civility with you for the night. I'll let MSII, Narad comment. It seems you mistake their evidence as being rude. No surprise there. You don't want to hear the truth..

Reiki is not used to treat an infection

Bull! Reiki and other energy woo-medicine practitioners are using Reiki to diagnose and treat infections and other illnesses. Your testimonials seem to indicate that you do as well.

Judith - I could give a flying f*ck what Dr. Oz "found" given that he has shown himself to be a gullible, credulous unethical scumbag who will do anything for ratings. He has promoted such vile charlatans as John of God and John Edwards. He has recently promoted gay conversion therapy, something which has been shown to cause depression and suicide and which is based on the archaic notion that homosexuality is a mental illness. Do you think a dishonest gobshite like Dr Oz would ever "find" that Reiki was ineffective given his vested interest and given his track record? Could you point us to the where Dr. Oz and Dr. Feldman have published their results (in the unlikely event they have any) or is everything based on memory and impression without any objective measurement.

I also note that neither you nor Marg have stepped up to explain where Bengston gets the huge amount of energy required to make a cloud dissipate. I will take this as a concession that hos "cloud busting" claims are fictional.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

I know this is only from The National Enquirer, and Judith will jump all over me for posting this, but I love how it exposes Ozand brings the issue to the attention of the public. And besides, the Enquirer has been correct about most things in the past couple of years. They're almost like a slighlty more abrasive TMZ these days.

Anyway, this whistle-blowing story on Dr. Oz includes a quote from a Dr. David Gorski.

http://www.nationalenquirer.com/celebrity/experts-dr-oz-quack

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

I just had a comment go into moderation and I just realized why. It'll make sense once Orac releases it--it'll be the National Enquirer piece on Dr. Oz. Let's just say a "friend" of Orac's is quoted and the moderation filter probably watches for that friend's name.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

@S
You did not address the issue of Dr. Feldman using Reiki practitioners in his operating and finding it correlating with positive results.

The very level of emotion that gets generated in you at the merest idea that Reiki might be real and that it might be taken seriously by some doctors shows you just how irrational you are being about it.

"operating room"

Please explain to me as clearly as possible the difference between being "used to treat an infection" and " used to help the person's body fight off an infection".

How exactly can one objectively distinguish whether an experimental treatment X is working by treating an illness or instead helping the body fight off the illness?

And finally, what evidence demonstrates reiki is any use at
doing either?

Re: people doing better with reiki post surgery " generally speaking" doesn't cut it: it's just more anecdote. Show us the results of a study where people getting reiki did better than people getting an appropriate faux-reiki control and you'll have the beginning of an argument.

Do you know that between July 2009 and September 2010 there were approximately 17,000 totally unwarranted angioplasties done on nonacute patients

Oh, look, Judith is trying to refine her previous, repeated assertions predicated on failing to actually read Chan et al. without for a second copping to the screaming errors in the original attempts. Sad Trombone notes that she blows it again. Leaving aside the fact that the "between" is wrong, the characterization as "totally unwarranted" is... totally unwarranted.

Good effort finally vibrating in the general direction of the abstract, though, after failing to at the outset dowse the location of endnote 11 in the relevant chapter of the book she's assigning as homework.

It is pointless trying to reason with Judith. She has amply demonstrated that she is either incapable of understanding or unwilling to understand that her point of view is irrelevant to this thread.

I'm willing to go for "constitutionally dishonest." Judith is willing to try to get away with anything.

Did you know that Reiki is used in some of the best hospitals in North America?

Excuse me, but is this coming from someone who elsewhere complains that medicine in the US is too contaminated by the profit motive to be taken seriously?

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

430 Judith December 11, 2012:

I personally am sickened by the fraud, incompetence and greed perpetrated by the medical establishment and the pharmaceutical companies.

But you have told us that fraud is a technicality. (ref comment 254 Judith December 9, 2012) Or do you consider fraud just a technicality only when woo hustlers do it?
I'm sure that most of us are unhappy about the occasional "fraud, incompetence and greed" that can be found in the medical field. Any honest person would be at least as upset about the fraud, incompetence, greed, and lack of concern for the marks' health that permeates the woo hustle. It doesn't seem to bother you; at least, you haven't expressed any negative attitude towards the woo hustle (and hustlers) that I can recall.

By Bill Price (not verified) on 11 Dec 2012 #permalink

You did not address the issue of Dr. Feldman using Reiki practitioners in his operating and finding it correlating with positive results.

@Judith, Many people who go into surgery are terrified* for their lives. They are under a lot of stress, they are ill, and they are afraid of negative outcomes. Facing such a scary and unfamiliar ordeal alone can be frightening. Having another person stand beside them during this time so as to listen to their fears and offer soothing reassurance would understandably benefit some people. If Reiki is shown to have any benefit, it is likely due to this reassuring effect of human companionship and empathy.

Unlike Reiki practitioners, hospitals do not allow a family member or friend in the operating room to provide emotional support for the patients. Given no choice, a patient in need will accept whatever support they can get. Call it Reiki or call it a paid surgical escort and companion service, it's still just a paid companion - nothing mystical about it. It just sounds better to call someone a Reiki Master rather than a paid companion.

You need to evidence that a Reiki practitioner can offer benefits beyond what any other compassionate and supportive person would offer. Do patients who receive Reiki heal more quickly than those who receive pseudo-Reiki, and why?

(*especially patients at Columbia where Dr. Oz works)

@MSII, On that link you provided, they offer a service called ProReiki™ targeted toward athletes. How many football players would object to having a pretty blonde woman lay her hands on them? The magic of Reiki... what a load of garbage. I have no doubt that it is soothing and feels good, but just call it what it is and don't deceive the patients as is being done..

Unlike some Reiki practitioners, I would have a bit of moral objection to selling myself to touch strangers for a living. Craigslist is full of such offerings. But, to call it Reiki, now there's a marketable idea, takes the trashiness out of it and dresses it up so that it is marketable to more people.

http://www.ravenkeyes.com/node/6

"Do you know that between July 2009 and September 2010 there were approximately 17,000 totally unwarranted angioplasties done on nonacute patients, to the tune of $15,000 to $100,000 per operation, even though a study published in 2007 showed that nonacute patients had no better outcomes with angioplasties than with medication and lifestyle changes?"

Lifestyle changes -- aye, there's the rub. Lots of problems would be solved with lifestyle changes, but if doctors can't get their patients to change their lifestyles, what are they supposed to do? Leave them to die? Or refer them to a specialist to try to get a surgical result equivalent to what medicine (profits to evil Big Pharma) and lifestyle changes would achieve?

I also note that Judith seems to view "doctors" as the Borg, so that general practitioners would send their patients on to cardiac surgeons without making any efforts at solving the problem through medicine and lifestyle changes first. Or maybe she isn't aware that cardiac surgeons do not, in general, snatch patients off the street and haul them in for unnecessary surgery.

@Judith

That's one comment.

I personally am sickened by the fraud, incompetence and greed perpetrated by the medical establishment and the pharmaceutical companies.

And yet see no compulsion to hold yourself or your alt med colleagues to the same standards. One wonders why...

The rest is just yet another tu quoque argument that you seem to be playing again and again. Change the record will you?

Burzynski is a small-scale operator compared to some of these guys, but they all get a free pass from you and your brethren here because, oh my God, they are DOCTORS, don’t you know! Doctors, the very next thing to God! Yes, let us all bow down to doctors and the holy institution of medicine in America! It’s a religion, and Makary compares it to the Catholic church in the way it protects its own against scrutiny and censure.

Or, as has explained numerous times, you're making a strawman and we have and will turn criticism on "Big Pharma" when required. But omigod we're currently criticising you, so that's not ok! *roll eyes

That's two.

Did you know that Reiki is used in some of the best hospitals in North America? Or that Dr. Oz was not the only one to introduce a Reiki practitioner into his operating room, but so did, more recently, his colleague Dr. Sheldon Marc Feldman, Chief of the Division of Breast Surgery in New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center? He gave a talk about his experiences at a Reiki conference last fall. The title of the talk was “Optimizing surgery with Reiki”.

Wow, yet more arguments from authority (celebrity) and popularity. Yes indeedy, that's so much better than posting RCTs!

So don’t set yourselves up as judge and jury on this; you are just showing your ignorance.

Educate us by posting some actual evidence for once.

That's three. Judith you have just admitted that your threats of libel are hollow. (For those who can't remember, I requested Judith explain in detail)

Apparently you know as much about law as you do about science. Your threats of libel are hollow, vague and disingenuous; an attempt to chill speech and scare critics.

ProReiki™ is provided by an "Reiki Master Teacher, Certified Hypnotherapist, Master Meditation Teacher, Workshop Facilitator, Ordained Interfaith Minister

ProReiki™ is religion. ProReiki™ is not evidenced-based medical care, but religion and religious beliefs and religious healings being effected upon patients without their full informed consent.

http://www.interfaithministry.com/institute/minister.htm

It is the Interfaith Minister as spiritual counsellor that works consciously with their spiritual awareness, responsibly allowing it to be a tool to help others. OIIM Interfaith Minister has developed his or her innate ability to work with the subtle unseen forces of the unconscious and the Spirit realms - they are able to tap into those intuitive skills that are a natural part of being a soul.

OIIM Intuitive Registered Spiritual Counsellor has the authenticated gift of intuitive insight and spiritual mediumship. This means that the Interfaith Minister with the Intuitive Spiritual Counsellor designation has the validated ability to tap into the unseen world to share with individuals information which would otherwise be unaccessible to them. Additional services offered by the Interfaith Minister with the Intuitive Spiritual Counsellor designation includes intuitive/psychic readings and communication with departed loved ones, angels and spirit guides so as to empower individuals with insight and ‘heavenly messages for the soul.’

Most training in psychic mediumship draws on either the Modern Spiritualist movement or the field of parapsychology and the study of the paranormal or the study of mysticism in the major religions. NTI is inclusive of all approaches, embracing both the scientific as well as the religious aspects and explorations of the field. Our students benefit from this breadth of training.

---------------
The course work for this designation is exactly the same as the spiritual counsellor designation with a few additional courses and an internship in mediumship. These supplemental courses draw on the Modern Spiritualist movement as well as parapsychology and the study of the paranormal and draws on the tradition of mysticism found in the world’s major religious traditions.

provide an understanding of holistic wellness and complementary therapies;

provide a comprehensive understanding of personal spirituality, intuition, gifts of Spirit,
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train wellness and other helping professionals in the human services field to understand
and utilize the basic concepts of energy work, intuition, visualization, mind over body
techniques, prayer, spiritual healing and gifts of spirit recognizing the uniqueness of every
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elevate spiritual counselling and the relevance of intuitive insights through the context of an
Interfaith Ministry so as to give them the recognition they deserve in the helping professions;

empower its students and ministers to be officially recognized and its graduates to work
through and maintain professional status and a sense of community through OIIM.

Judith,

This is a blog that supports science-based medicine and is entitled "Respectful Insolence". Are you really surprised that people give you a hard time here when you try to convince them that reiki, which is seen by the vast majority of scientists as utterly ridiculous, is real?

As for doctors getting a free ride, I don't think that that's really true. I have seen many posts and comments here over the years that criticize issues of the kind that you have mentioned. It seems to me that many of them are related to the political and economic systems within which medicine in the US is practiced. Certainly I haven't come across much evidence of these problems in the years I have spent working in UK hospitals. I'm sure everyone here would like to see medicine improved, but these are institutional and systematic problems that need to be tackled using the sorts of measures that Dr. Makary has championed, and which I for one wholeheartedly support.

As a matter of fact I have actively worked for many years to increase the use of evidence-based medicine. I have supported whistle-blowers initiatives and measures to hold drug companies accountable, I have written to medical journals on these issues, corresponded with people who are working to improve medicine in many areas, attended meetings, signed numerous petitions, supported patients in pursuing medical negligence cases and more. I see my involvement with the skeptic movement in general, and this blog in particular as part of my efforts to improve medicine.

What have you done to make things better? It does seem to me that you and other alternative practitioners are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Burzynski is another matter. He is trying to evade the systems being put in place to protect patients from the bad behavior of doctors, systems like the ones advocated by Marty Makary. Makary calls for transparency and for patients to be able to access doctors' success rates so they can make informed decisions about their treatment. This is the antithesis of what Burzynski has done.

There is a large propaganda campaign going on to make people believe that Burzynski is a poor persecuted genius who has found a cure for cancer. Desperate people with cancer and those whose children have cancer are being taken in by this propaganda, and making poor decisions with unpleasant consequences as a result of the misinformation being spread. I think it is only right that the truth about him should be trumpeted far and wide. I am proud to be a small part of this.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

@S
In some states in the US, e.g., Florida, you can't do hands-on healing unless you are an ordained minister. It doesn't make it a "religion without informed consent".

You are all up in arms about Reiki, but there are healing modalities out there that go a lot farther than Reiki in what they try to do, with no overt spiritual overlay. Reiki is accepted in hospitals because it can be used in "adjunctive care". If you listen to Pamela Miles, who was the Reiki person invited to do it on the Dr. Oz show, it claims to offer very little, mostly "balancing" and "relaxation". When people are relaxed, they heal better. So I don't know why you feel so threatened by Reiki in particular.

@Krebiozen
Kudos for your efforts and may many others follow in your footsteps in trying to make medicine more transparent and accountable.

The problem with this blog is that while it calls itself "Respectful Insolence" it's anything but respectful. Both Orac and the commenters feel entirely free to heap scorn indiscriminately on all forms of alternative medicine.That's what prompted me to respond in the first place, to point out that medicine is no whited sepulchre itself and that within alternative medicine there are differences and gradations.

@Krebiozen

You ask what Judith has done, you already know the answer. She has waved her hands in the air and wished really hard.

Tangible results are not necessary in reiki-world. It is the being there, the knowledge that you are part of a superior group of people, knowing that you are one of the select few who are open minded enough to be able to deny the laws of physics, biology and chemistry.

Reiki is a religion. It requires faith without evidence, in short, bullsh*t.

@MarkL
We made up a lot of those laws.

Judith, your tone-troll concerns are noted.

The problem, however, is that a great deal of alternative medicine is entirely deserving of any amount of scorn that comes its way.

Homeopathy. Miracle Mineral Solution. Chelation therapy for autism. Gerson's coffee enema protocol. Geir's chemical castrations with Lupron. Or your personal favorite, Bengston's energy healing: proven in laboratory mice to be just as effective as absolutely no treatment whatsoever.

The list of alternatives that are undeserving of any degree of respectful consideration is all but endless. Don't begrudge them the scorn they're receiving.

They've earned it, in spades.

@Judith - hmmmmm.....made up laws of physics? Really?

Have you ever even stepped inside an advanced physics classroom or spoken with researchers?

My guess it not & you just make a ton of assumptions about what is and is not reality.....maybe a few hundred years ago, you'd be an incredibly rich and powerful "healer" since people didn't know any better - but today, we do have a pretty good idea how the Universe operates - and how to apply actual scientific methods to determine what is and isn't bullshit - unfortunately, your particular area of expertise resides firmly in the bullshit category.

@Judith

You are a troll, pure and simple. You refuse to provide evidence for either your support of Stan "give-us-your-money" Burzynski or for the claimed medical efficacy of your religion.

You are, in effect, the ignorant child in the corner with her fingers in her ears shouting "lalalalalalalalalalalala" because you dont want to hear reasoned debate, you just want to be "right".

Time to put up or shut up Judith.

@Judith - oops, comment in moderation (my language, probably).

@Judith – hmmmmm…..made up laws of physics? Really?

Have you ever even stepped inside an advanced physics classroom or spoken with researchers?

My guess it not & you just make a ton of assumptions about what is and is not reality…..maybe a few hundred years ago, you’d be an incredibly rich and powerful “healer” since people didn’t know any better – but today, we do have a pretty good idea how the Universe operates – and how to apply actual scientific methods to determine what is and isn’t bullshi*t – unfortunately, your particular area of expertise resides firmly in the bullsh*t category.

A little bit on slagging SBM:

As everyone knows there are unethical practitioners in SBM as well as pharmaceutical companies that worship the profit margin above efficacy. Not one of us would issue them a free pass because they may BEGIN with a scientific foundation- although they wind up elsewhere. Corruption and waste are despicable wherever they occur. Their problems are a separate issue from alt med's sins.

However it is distinctly another matter to focus upon malfeasance in SBM in order to distract attention from alt med's misuse of the public's trust and monetary assets.

If you peruse alt media ( Natural News, PRN, Mercola, AoA, Info Wars et al) you will witness similar manoeuvering around the inconvenient fact that they don't have data .And -btw- they also lie. How do I know this?

1. If you have data, you submit it to public scrutiny via the usual channels ( SB journals) rather than broadcasting exposes and creating docu-dramas about cures. You do not need to rely upon testimonials from your satisfied clients and partisans. You allow others to criticise your work and attempt replication of it in other settings.

Alt med that has been tested in standard fashion and found efficacious becomes SBM.

2. The alt media companies I list above routinely lie in order to sell products and garner an audience:
Mike Adams tells his followers that they should eschew medical care entirely and rely upon NDs and other alties to provide care: all doctors are corrupt and all pharmaceuticals are useless or dangerous.
Gary Null proposes that ALL illness is due to lifestyle and that his advice - if followed to the letter- can cure people of cancer, hiv/ aids ( which doesn't really exist), Alzheimer's, CVD, MS, ASDs, LDs, SMIs etc. A person who eats correctly, exercises correctly and de-stresses in the proper manner should live to be 140.

In addition, since about 2008, both of these prevaricators give advice about investment based upon their own idiosyncratic ideas about economics that - if followed- would have lost their advisees money, e.g. at the depths of the recession ( March 2009) Null advised people to sell their stocks and bonds and take money out of banks. People who complied would not have benefitted from the recovery - as I have. Both advise stocking up on precious metals and foods that will survive long-term storage for the apocalypse that is on its way, soon to engulf us all.

However their criticism of economic theories and governmental poliicy goes hand-in-glove with their criticism of ALL experts- especial SBM. They have to do this so that people will listen to them as contrarians and brave maverick thought leaders. They lie, exaggerate factual material and take it out of context in order to make their case for unrealistic health practices and unlikely long-term personal financial strategies.

They present themselves as a news service and relish their audience's dependence upon their twisted facts rather than the despised mainstream media: it also guarantees that their products will be considerd first as payment for the elightenment with which their audience has been graced.

( I have to leave now )

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

Do you know that between July 2009 and September 2010 there were approximately 17,000 totally unwarranted angioplasties done on nonacute patients, to the tune of $15,000 to $100,000 per operation, even though a study published in 2007 showed that nonacute patients had no better outcomes with angioplasties than with medication and lifestyle changes?

How do you know this to be true? Wait, did you just say that someone published a study and that's why you think the angioplasties may not have been necessary? That's very science based of you.

Where are the published, peer-reviewed, replicated studies on the other topics we've discussed?

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

So I don’t know why you feel so threatened by Reiki in particular

I don't feel threatened by Reiki at all. I lump it together with other unproved "energy" therapies such as therapeutic touch, faith healing, necromancy, and so on, and based on lack of credible evidence that it works better than placebo (e.g. someone saying, "there, there") feel those who promote it should either prove their claims or stop promoting it.

But you're right, there are a lot of more dangerous forms of quackery out there - coffee enemas, detoxification, master cleanse, antineoplastons, blood letting, and so on. Those get covered as well. You only hear about Reiki because that's what you talk about, and you're hearing repeated echoes of "and where's your evidence that it works".

Frankly, if someone were to tell me that they'd prayed for me or given me Reiki while I was unconscious, I wouldn't be the least bothered by it (as long as I didn't get charged for it). I'd be far more concerned if the told me they'd give me a coffee enema.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

Judith,

Both Orac and the commenters feel entirely free to heap scorn indiscriminately on all forms of alternative medicine.

I know you probably spend most of your time, both physically and on line, with people who either believe in reiki and other forms of energy medicine, or think it is quite possible that it works through some mechanism yet undiscovered by science.

You have to understand that from our point of view alternative medicine is medicine that has either not been adequately tested for safety and efficacy, or has been adequately tested and found to be unsafe and/or ineffective.

I think most of us here consider that most alternative medicine, including reiki and therapeutic touch, falls into the latter category, and many of us are exasperated that forms of medicine that have been, for all practical purposes, proven not to work (PDF), are still in use, even in respectable medical establishments.

I think that the neutral language of science can be misleading. Science rarely says that anything has been disproven, only that there is no evidence to support a particular hypothesis. When you look at the large numbers of trials of reiki and related therapies that are equally scientifically implausible, overall they look very much like trials of other forms of things like acupuncture and homeopathy. There are few trials that show any positive results, and those that do are barely statistically significant, and when they are they are not clinically significant.

You may remember some time ago I looked at the analgesic efficacy of therapeutic touch compared to methadone for cancer pain, since pain is one area where these therapies are supposedly most effective. In summary, opiates have a reliable clinically significant effect on pain, but reiki and therapeutic touch do not.

I think that on the basis of those results reiki and therapeutic touch should be abandoned for the treatment of pain, in favor of effective treatments. I do find it annoying that they are still in use, even by doctors who should know better who I think should only be using treatments that have been proven effective. That's why I'm inclined to be scornful, because I think patients are being put at risk by the use of these treatments.

I also think that their use encourages people to believe in pseudoscience, which is a very bad thing, and that it is a great shame that some people, like yourself, are still allowing themselves to be misled by their own cognitive biases when we have known about these, and have had effective ways to overcome them for over 200 years. This is willful ignorance, and I do think that willful ignorance deserves scorn.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

I have a comment in moderation. Keep your eyes peeled for the same tagline I used as this one.

.The problem with this blog is that while it calls itself “Respectful Insolence” it’s anything but respectful.

Judith obviously does not understand irony.

In any case, I show disrespect to those who in my eyes deserve it.

In some states in the US, e.g., Florida, you can’t do hands-on healing unless you are an ordained minister.

That's a peculiar way of stating the situation. What is actually the case is that Florida is willing to bust fakirs for the unlicensed practice of medicine, so fraudulent ministerial credentials are used in an attempt to make an end run. You know, just like phony religious exemptions for school immunization. Licensed massage therapist? THAT'S HARD! (Note also that the only actual limitation on "hands-on healing" is doing it for money. I WANT MY DONATIONS!)

It doesn’t make it a “religion without informed consent”.

No, it makes it irrefutably sleazy out of sheer laziness. (Look, Ma, no ministers!)

If you listen to Pamela Miles, who was the Reiki person invited to do it on the Dr. Oz show, it claims to offer very little, mostly “balancing” and “relaxation”.

And if we listen to Bengston, it cures cancer. And if we listen to Domancic, what you do makes "every illness curable." So what does Pamela Miles have to do with anything? She's not here.

Both Orac and the commenters feel entirely free to heap scorn indiscriminately on all forms of alternative medicine.

Reversing cause and effect. They're arbitrarily labeled "alternative" to make special pleading excuses to explain away their failures in scientific tests. If a treatment is shown to work, there'd be no reason to label it "alternative." It's marketing spin for reinforcing a counterculture that's more about blind rebellion and a sense of entitlement than any sort of principles. Conveniently, it also creates gullible consumers.

There really is no such thing as "alternative medicine" as far as I'm concerned. From my point of view, alternative medicine is more defined by what it isn't and who its enemies are, rather than what it is. Beyond the ideas involved in perpetuating credulous thinking, there really doesn't seem to be any consistent foundation other than convenience.

Pharmaceutical companies, using science, can usually show objective results for their treatments under controlled conditions (though they do cheat on occasion and science is used to catch them), which provides the under-performers with a political and financial motivation to join under one big tent for using rhetorical legerdemain instead of science. I call people "alties" because they perpetuate the false dichotomy rather than drop affiliations.

There is one trend I've been seeing, though: In my youth, I tended to see "alternative medicine" as generally a far left wing thing, but over time, as I got more involved, I've been seeing more and more crazy right-libertarian rhetoric.

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

Oh no,! Now Narad and the "pandemic squad" have a "There is no God" idea for a vaccine. Another round of shots. (facepalm)

Better not tell Judith that Orac's "friend's" other blog just posted a scathing piece shredding energy medicine to pieces. We can thank Dr. Novella for posting it.

Good thing comments there are a little more difficult to post than they are here or else Judith would start her hand waving there too.

Let's not tell her the URL and see if she's smart enough to figure it out.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

I feel like doing a jab at the "made up" assertion about the laws of physics, chemistry, and so on. These laws are founded on and tested by reality. They're approximations, but they're very accurate ones.

I've used Newtonian physics in high school. The teacher made us design balanced mobiles using math to calculate how much torque our selected objects would exert on the rods based on their distance from the point of rotation and their weight. To be balanced, the torque on both sides of each rod had to be equal. And we were expected to do it asymmetrically, with varying weights and distances. I did the math very thoroughly and my mobile stayed balanced with no tweaking the first time I hung it. The laws I premised the project on predicted the real world result quite accurately.

I also took AP Chemistry for two semesters. I saw many laws and suddenly a lot of the little things in life made sense. I understood why soap and detergent are good for cleaning. I understood why warm sodas generally fizzed up more than cold ones. I understood why oil and water didn't mix. I understood how batteries worked. I understood the principle behind neon lights. I understood why air conditioners need an exhaust vent to the outside. I understood why gold didn't tarnish as easily as other metals. I understood why iron was so easily and strongly magnetized compared to other materials. Our everyday world is built on these laws of chemistry even if your average layperson is unaware of them. We aren't talking about weird events in unusual laboratory conditions, we're talking about everyday things. If the laws of chemistry were simply "made up" without reference to reality, how do we accomplish all the various little everyday things we do as a technological society? If they're fiction, why do they explain and predict things so accurately?

That's one thing that irritates me about arrogant woos. They don't grasp the scope of the things they're talking about. They're focused on convincing us that they've got a grasp on something exotic without showing any signs that they grasp the familiar, as if they think "boring" things don't really count as science. They ask us to throw aside the laws that make all the countless things in the familiar world understandable so that their one questionable idea for one questionable phenomenon can be privileged above our alternatives.

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

Reiki is not used to treat an infection; Reiki is used to help the person’s body fight off the infection. There is a difference. Generally speaking, both Oz and his colleague Dr. Feldman found that people who received Reiki during their operations tended to do better post-operatively than people who didn’t. I know several doctors who either do Reiki themselves or go for treatments; I have treated doctors and even a scientist. So don’t set yourselves up as judge and jury on this; you are just showing your ignorance.

Now appeals to authority. This would be so easy to test Judith so why aren't they? Reiki is BS and people shouldn't be paying for it and frankly, I would be pissed as hell if some hand-waving weirdo was allowed into the theatre while I was under anesthesia.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

Judith:

Reiki is not used to treat an infection; Reiki is used to help the person’s body fight off the infection. There is a difference.

That most certainly *is* treating an infection. You may think you're able to wordsmith your way out of a charge of practicing medicine without a license, but reality isn't swayed by semantics, and helping the body fight an infection is a treatment. Remember, treatment is more than just drugs. The usual treatment for a broken arm is to help the body heal the bone by setting the bone in the proper alignment, stabilizing it so it stays steady while the body does it's work, and controlling pain and swelling (and, if pain is enough to interfere with eating, providing extra nutrition as well).

Of course, you may be saying more than you intend. Because I do believe that indeed, reiki does not treat an infection. It just pretends to.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

You know, it's funny when I see a woo start making appeals to authority. Science is essentially about the rejection of authority, and they don't seem to get that. The "authority" is not in any person, it's in the methodology they use to conduct experiments or collect observations and the cogency of their logic for interpreting their results. Woos have typically trapped themselves into thinking everything's a matter of dueling tribe leaders, charisma, and marketing propaganda between enemy tribes.

In science, there are no prophets. There are no dictators. There are no chieftains. There are no saints. There are no idols. There are no god-kings. There are no sacred books. There are no enlightened gurus meditating their way to truth at the top of ivory towers. Assertions are only as good as the work done to back them up. If you want your idea to be accepted, you have to get in the dirt and work for it, like everyone else. You're not inherently above the human condition, so don't use your perceived authority as a free pass.

Holding a person up as an authority is a quick and risky shortcut at best. Rely on it too much, and you can easily find yourself lost in the wilderness.

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

There are no god-kings.

Lord Draconis will get you for that.

My comment finally appears here.

I'd also like to add a thumbs up for Krebiozen's post.

@Judith

If you listen to Pamela Miles, who was the Reiki person invited to do it on the Dr. Oz show, it claims to offer very little, mostly “balancing” and “relaxation”. When people are relaxed, they heal better. So I don’t know why you feel so threatened by Reiki in particular.

You either don't or won't read, or have some trouble understanding English. If you posted some reliable evidence that it worked, nobody would have a problem with it. You don't, so we do.

Both Orac and the commenters feel entirely free to heap scorn indiscriminately on all forms of alternative medicine.That’s what prompted me to respond in the first place, to point out that medicine is no whited sepulchre itself and that within alternative medicine there are differences and gradations.

Nah, you came here to defend reiki, which was the topic we were discussing, because one of your fans brought it up.

If Big Pharma started going on about some magical mystical cure but refuses to post evidence for it, we'd heap insolence on it to. In fact, it's been done already, not that you care to look. In fact, if you'd been paying attention, we're criticising *Burzyinski* who is using fairly well-known medicines in an unethical manner. (But oh yes, he goes against the grain by being the lone maverick, so he doesn't count in your fairyland)

We made up a lot of those laws.

Postmodernism rears its head again. I'm surprised you haven't stated that gravity is just a theory...

If it weren't for the fact that Orac doesn't allow it, I'd swear you were just a sock puppet of Marg.

Yet another tour of distractions away from the fact that neither MARG or JUDITH, the contemptible purse-snatchers of science, HAS ANY EVIDENCE THAT ENERGY HEALING WORKS

@Lawrence

My guess it not & you just make a ton of assumptions about what is and is not reality…..maybe a few hundred years ago, you’d be an incredibly rich and powerful “healer” since people didn’t know any better – but today, we do have a pretty good idea how the Universe operates – and how to apply actual scientific methods to determine what is and isn’t bullshi*t – unfortunately, your particular area of expertise resides firmly in the bullsh*t category.

I suspect most of these alt medders, other than touting snake oil, would actually be people who turn up at parties, hired for their entertainment factor rather than their actual knowledge. Like bringing in the local medium for a seance, or the latest importation (food, spices, animal, 'exotic' person) to prove that you have money, class and clout.

@MOB

So I don’t know why you feel so threatened by Reiki in particular

I don’t feel threatened by Reiki at all.

Following on from this, I am personally coming from a somewhat neutral position, and am looking for a reason to be convinced. Every time I ask for evidence though, I am ignored or given anecdotes, or given studies that don't live up to expectations. I am not being negative at all, I am actively requesting more information because I *want* to change my mind.

If reiki actually worked, I'd try it in a heartbeat. But nobody can prove to me that it does.

And if anything, my bias is that I've tried various alt med things before - including those like energy healing, such as qi gong - and have a soft spot for postmodernism - because of my background in the arts - and found those alt med ideas wanting. Why is it they work for so many people but not for me? It wasn't for lack of trying, nor belief in what they could do.

As for my tone, I lose patience after a while when the other person in the conversation refuses to move off of previously discussed points; or refuses to respond to comments; or refuses to leave fallacies out of their arguments; or refuses to provide adequate evidence despite repeated asking. This patience is generally lost over a period of time and I'm far nicer to begin with. You avoid those things that make me lose patience, you'll have a better chance at not receiving so much insolence from me.

@Bo

Oh no,! Now Narad and the “pandemic squad” have a “There is no God” idea for a vaccine. Another round of shots. (facepalm)

Is there any reason you bring vaccines into a discussion not related to vaccines other than to jump up and down on them? We're talking about Burzyinski and/or reiki here.

@Bronze Dog

I’ve used Newtonian physics in high school. The teacher made us design balanced mobiles using math to calculate how much torque our selected objects would exert on the rods based on their distance from the point of rotation and their weight. To be balanced, the torque on both sides of each rod had to be equal. And we were expected to do it asymmetrically, with varying weights and distances. I did the math very thoroughly and my mobile stayed balanced with no tweaking the first time I hung it. The laws I premised the project on predicted the real world result quite accurately.

This sounds like a fun project I'll have to try sometime!

They’re focused on convincing us that they’ve got a grasp on something exotic without showing any signs that they grasp the familiar, as if they think “boring” things don’t really count as science. They ask us to throw aside the laws that make all the countless things in the familiar world understandable so that their one questionable idea for one questionable phenomenon can be privileged above our alternatives.

I suspect that it has something to do with wanting the universe to be more exciting or special than it really is.

I suspect that it has something to do with wanting the universe to be more exciting or special than it really is.

The universe *is* an exciting and special place. Part of that specialness is its regularity -- the underlying rules that make some of its behaviours predictable (or at least understandable in hindsight).

Sadly, the exciting and special aspects of the universe do *not* seem to include a special status for the desires of human beings.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

I suspect that it has something to do with wanting the universe to be more exciting or special than it really is.

Substitute "self" for "universe," and I think you're closer.

Casting aspersion on experts:

One of my hobby horses involves reviewing a little song and dance routine popular in woo-topia entitled " the cult of the professional ( or expert)";

and I do seem to hear its lilting strains around here as well.
The woo-meister solemnly proclaims that the experts really know VERY little indeed and moreover, they are chained to staid conformity by their masters and never seek wisdom beyond the confines of their tiny, little area of expertise. They are unable to think grand, paradigm-shifting thoughts and venture stalwartly into untrammeled, virgin territory.

Now who are the people who are providing this critique? Who can stand above and criticise ALL of science? Indeed, all of social sciences as well and some of the arts.

In truth, the folks I'm talking about have probably never studied science beyond secondary school except for b@stardised versions from alternative, woo-centric institutions. Distance learning from places advertised on matchcovers and universities with names like Wisdom, Nature or Freedom. I am assured that the University of Google is well represented also.

Criticism without understanding science and statistical analysis can be done by any person in a bar or pub, perched on a barstool, spouting truisms and lofty thoughts: it doesn't mean that there is anything solid behind the words. Actually a drunk person would probably be much more entertaining than the ones I hear.

How can a person with a minuscule background presume to prognosicate like this? Despite having neither the ability nor the experience, they carry on like this for their enraptured audiences as if they are indeed in an appropriate position - ABOVE IT ALL.

Remember I said, 'as if - because it IS posturing and play-acting.

However, if you cast aspersion on experts perhaps your audience will ignore them and listen to YOU instead. What these fellows presume to do is outside of most real experts' capacities: how can you be arrogant enough to criticise science in ALL fields- medicine, biology, psychology, epidemiology, virology, oncology, pharmacology et al and THEN start blathering on about your studies in economics or political science or philosophy? No one can do ALL of this- let alone a person with average intelligence without a decent formal educational background. These guys aren't that bright but they are SALESMEN and know their trade.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

From Judith

Burzynski is a small-scale operator compared to some of these guys, but they all get a free pass from you and your brethren here because, oh my God, they are DOCTORS,

But? Burzynski is a DOCTOR!
And so is DOCTOR Oz.
And so are a lot of other providers of Alt-Med - like this half-competent doctor in Texas who hired the local sheriff to help him peddle his own supplements to his patients (breaking hospital rules), and when needed to track down the nurses who blew the whistle on him.

So let me get this straight: we give a free pass to DOCTORS, except when we don't.

By Heliantus (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

Come and say all that to me in person. You are a Canuck; I bet you are polite and decent in person, but give a man a pseudonym and a computer screen to hide behind, and he feels free to let loose with all manner of incivility and insults. And that goes for @Narad too

Judith, if you think I would "play ball" with your Cosmic Condescension by virtue of experiencing the quivering tendrils of your Great Soul in person, you're sorely mistaken.

Denice,
I'm currently reading the late Stephen Jay Gould's posthumously published book, 'The Hedgehog, the Fox and the Magister's Pox', which is about the different approaches of
natural and social sciences. It's shaping up to be an interesting read which I think you might enjoy, should you not have read it already. I am a big fan of Gould, I should point out, though I don't always agree with him.

BTW, foxes are not my favorite creatures at the moment; my late lamented cat's decomposing corpse made an unexpected reappearance yesterday. It seems I did not bury her quite deep enough in our back yard when she died a few weeks ago, and the foxes must have gotten hungry in this cold weather. It's not really how I want to remember a beloved pet!

I'll forgive them, of course - in fact they got an extra bag of chicken this afternoon.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

@ Krebiozen:

I am also a fan of Gould.

Yes, the foxes. I am sorry to hear about their recent ,,, uh, activities.
A certain gentleman I know is currently feeding the park foxes expensive cat food- gourmet chicken with greens, I believe. He is quite enamoured of them.

Relating this to my Irish friend, I learn that there are many at HER end of the park; while she doesn't feed them YET she enjoys watching them- especially when they have kits. I imagine that they will eventually all have Gaelic names to which they will answer prompty.

All I've seen lately in parks are stupid geese, ducks and swans.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

All I’ve seen lately in parks are stupid geese, ducks and swans.

"America's marsupial" should be moving closer to daytime activity soon.

@Krebiozen, I sure hope the foxes let your cat rest in peace. Keep feeding them extra chicken for at least another 6 months or so.

S,

@Krebiozen, I sure hope the foxes let your cat rest in peace.

I have to confess she's double-bagged in the garbage and headed for a landfill burial. Sentiment be damned, I'm not going to risk another zombie apocalypse scare.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

Narad,

“America’s marsupial” should be moving closer to daytime activity soon.

I was just recently about possums, opossums, and their differences, bifurcated penises and all.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

"recently learning" - hit [Insert] in error.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

Denice,

gourmet chicken with greens

I'm a little lost for words, and worried my wife will get ideas*. At least I have talked her out of using the homeopathic mange medication that a UK fox charity sends out free of charge. It does seem to work, but I'm pretty sure that's because they advise it should be administered on jam sandwiches. Chicken sans homeopathy seems just as effective anyway.

*One of the zombie cat's favorites was chicken and spinach in a white sauce - I sometimes found myself pondering that the world has definitely gone a bit crazy when I adopt a stray and before long it appears to be eating better than me.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

@ Narad:

A few years ago ( 2007), I was walking around the woods in Monterey ( CA) by myself; later on in the day, I came across a home-made sign at the lighthouse that said ( in both English AND Spanish) "Watch out for mountain lions." I learned that they were hanging out in the area- especially around the golf courses and wooded-areas. Where I was.
I didn't see any.
I only see the boring animals.

Later reports ( 2011) reported the cats at the Presidio and walking down streets of residential areas.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Dec 2012 #permalink

@Krebiozen
There was an episode of House in which the Great Dr. House finally diagnosed a dying patient as suffering from some kind of horrid parasite that can only be gotten from foxes. So please keep your distance from the critters, for a variety of reasons.

@Narad
Are you a Canuck?

@Judith - how about keeping to the topic at hand. Are you defending a charlatan that charges hundreds of thousands of dollars for a sham treatment & offering false hope to the dying?

@Narad
Are you a Canuck?

Perhaps you would like to reexamine the construction of your paragraph. Hold your hand to the screen; it will sort itself out.

@Lawrence
Actually, not.

His anecdotal evidence does not seem to bear out.

Denice -- no mountain lion sitings that I know of on the golf courses for a while -- IIRC, it's usually young males looking for a territory. On the other hand, the deer population might have crashed on the Monterey peninsula -- don't know.

On feeding wildlife -- back when I bought hay in 35 to 55 ton increments, we had a clan of bobcats policing the hay barn for rodents. They never really were "tame" but would observe activities in the barnyard with interest. The flight distance for humans on foot was about 4-5 meters, but mounted on horseback I could practically reach out to touch Mr. Sits On The Fence & Supervise.

In the last few years, the ranch were I lived then has had a coyote population explosion -- we think for two reasons -- the former foreman used to terminate with extreme prejudice, and once he'd been gone for a few years (ie, it was safe to show your canid head here and there) the population exploded.

Anyway, there were a pair of coyotes, male and female, that we called "the show coyotes" -- very beautiful pelts, well-conformed and so on. Finally figured out that they had learned how to get in and out of the garbage dumpster and were eating high on the hog.

One of the ranch neighbors started the rumor that the ranch was breeding coyotes for show....