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Doing Eric Merola a favor…

Believe it or not, I’m going to do Eric Merola (who doesn’t particularly like me, to the point of thinking, apparently, that I’m a white supremacist who doesn’t like evidence but does like to eat puppies) a favor. Having been away at TAM and otherwise occupied hanging out with fellow skeptics and, more stressfully, getting ready to give a talk in front of as many as 1,000 people on Saturday, somehow I missed this. Well, actually, I didn’t miss it, but somehow I forgot to post it, even though it would have only take a few minutes. Then when I got home I still forgot to post it. Now there are only three days left (four, counting today) for me to do it; so I’d better get to it. My having forgotten to do this is particularly amazing given the subject of my main stage talk at TAM, our old buddy Stanislaw Burzynski. I’m even doing it as an extra “bonus” post on a day that I don’t usually post on SBM.

I wonder if Merola will appreciate the favor I’ve done him?

Eric Merola, as you recall, is a filmmaker who was responsible for two propaganda films about Stanislaw Burzynski, the dubious cancer doctor who has used “antineoplastons” to treat cancer without having published any decent clinical trial evidence that they do what he claims. Back in 2010, Merola released the first of a not-so-dynamic duo of films, the first of which was called Burzynski The Movie: Cancer Is A Serious Business (or B1, as I like to call it). The movie didn’t do much for a year or more, but then über-quack Joe Mercola promoted it, and somehow Eric Merola landed an interview with Dr. Oz on his radio show. The sequel, the slightly less pretentiously titled Burzynski: Cancer Is A Serious Business, Part 2 (or B2, as I like to call it), was then released June 1 on various pay-per-view modes. As has been pointed out, it’s no better than the first, and it features direct attacks on the skeptics who had the temerity to criticized Burzynski and Merola over the last couple of years.

Merola is apparently trying to recreate the success of his previous strategy, which involved letting people watch the movie online for free for limited periods of time on quack websites like Mercola.com. I won’t link directly to the Mercola.com link to the second Burzynski movie, because I don’t want to give Mercola any more Google juice than he already has. The movie is, however, on Vimeo until July 20:

If you want to see what the fuss was about and whether my criticisms of the movie were valid, now’s your chance. If you want to see the hilarious attack on skeptics, it begins around 1:19 h into the movie. Yes, I’m encouraging you to watch B2. It’s a beautiful example of all the things that we tried to innoculate TAM attendees against a few short days ago. Indeed, dissecting this propaganda magnum opus is an excellent way to teach oneself critical thinking, much as dissecting creationist tripe is.

Other key points include:

  • Laura Hymas’ interview and the recording of her discussion with her oncologist (approximately 0:28 h in). This section is horrifying (to me, at least) to watch, as I can’t help but feel how dicey the ethical the situation that poor oncologist found himself in was, with Hymas and her family demanding that he help her be part of one of Burzynski’s “clinical trials” by agreeing to be the local physician and agreeing to order various scans.
  • The end of the story of Amelia Saunders (approximately 0:58 h in). This is one where Merola caused me true revulsion, as he basically implied that Amelia died because her parents took her off the antineoplastons.
  • Hideaki Tsuda’s clinical trial (approximately 1:31 h in). One still wonders why he didn’t bother to publish.

Those of you who can stand to watch it, let me know what you think. Those of you who can only watch part of it, let me know what you think of that section. Remember, though – this video will only be online for free until July 20.

Posted in: Cancer, Science and the Media

Leave a Comment (17) ↓

17 thoughts on “Doing Eric Merola a favor…

  1. brianbuchbinder says:

    I hope the large checks “Big Pharma” is sending you help support SBM. They do, don’t they???

    1. arsawyer says:

      Even if this site was entirely financed by pharmaceutical companies, even if every contributor was lying, and dr. gorski was satan himself, it would not change the fact that burzinski is still a quack. I don’t understand why this is so difficult to understand.

      1. brianbuchbinder says:

        That was a joke, arsawyer. I like the idea of gorski as satan, though. Horns make the man, after all.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          May I suggest [sarcasm][/sarcasm] tags in the future?

      2. brianbuchbinder says:

        That was a joke, arsawyer. I like the idea of gorski as satan, though. Horns make the man, after all.

      3. Egstra says:

        But you gotta love the totally rationality of his argument.

    2. Peter Arlington says:

      Since he has criticized them so often it makes sense that they would do so. Or wait… He is doing it on purpose so we don’t suss him out. Ultimately it’s the result of the New World Order, together with all the secret organizations who are covering this up. Well known fact. Well, even though it is truly secret it is still a well known fact. For people like you know it all, don’t they.

  2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    I hope the large checks “Big Pharma” is sending you help support SBM. They do, don’t they???

    Why do you think Dr. Gorski must be getting bribes from a pharmaceutical company?

    Is it possible that someone could criticize Burznyski without having a profit motive?

    Is there a possibility in your mind that Burzynski isn’t behaving ethically, or could be wrong in his assertions about antineoplastons?

    Do you think it is valid for Burzynski to keep charging patients large amounts of money for treatments that have not been tested?

    Do you think it is valid for a clinical trial involving less than 100 people to be kept running for more than a decade?

    Do you think a large pharmaceutical firm should be allowed to charge money to individuals with cancer for the opportunity to be patients in clinical trials for drugs that have not yet been tested?

    Burzynski’s practices are unethical for anybody claiming to have a cure for cancer, the difference is he is being permitted to get away with it – by the FDA, the CDC, the Texas Medical Board and most importantly by consumers. If you replaced all the instances of “Burzynski” with “Pfizer” or “Merck” or “GlaxoSmithKline”, CAM proponents would be outraged, up in arms, frothing at the mouth; yet for some reason Burzynski gets a pass. I find this a curious double-standard.

  3. Stephen H says:

    Can I humbly suggest that SBM consider the possibility of:

    1. Enabling authors to edit their posts, so that if they have been ‘misunderestimated’ the author can clarify the original post; and
    2. Implementing some fancy-pants comments system that enables formatting, emoticons and other modern trickery that helps convey the message the writer intends in the absence of personal interaction.

    I must admit that when I first read the opening post by “brianbuchbinder” I immediately assumed “it must be a joke”, but then thought “…or is it? Surely wackos come here from time to time”. The ability to convey some nuance, and the ability to change a misconstrued missive, would work wonders in clearing this stuff up and potentially save us all a lot of foaming at the mouth.

  4. windriven says:

    Oh, I don’t know Stephen. I think the foaming at the mouth stuff can be pretty funny, especially when directed at a comment written as satire.

    The problem with allowing edits would be along the lines of:

    I declare A;
    You respond with B, making me look like a douche;
    I edit A and now B is a non sequitur. Apparent douchery now accrues to you.

    1. Chris says:

      That happens on Amazon, where they allow you to edit a review or comment to a review.

      Though both the reviews and comments on Amazon have other issues.

  5. kevlin1 says:

    Yum puppies.

  6. Carl says:

    I only made it about 10 minutes before giving up.

    First we get the same old BS – they note that Burzynski has done a series of phase 2 trials (with no mention of the data not being published), and is [still] about to do a phase 3 trial. Any minute now, I suppose.

    They make the strange claim that Burzynski has received no support from the pharmaceutical industry, the government, or “the cancer industry”… whatever that could be if it isn’t the previous 2 things.

    At 7:20 in, we get the standard personalized gene-targeted claims.
    At 8:00 in, Burzynski says you need individualized treatment “to be successful”, which makes me wonder how antineoplastons could possibly have worked.
    At 9:13, Burzynski claims to be treating the combination of GENES which cause cancer, not treating the cancer itself.

    At 9:30, the narrator claims that Burzynski cured a patient of stage 1 colon cancer, via off-label prescriptions of 3 drugs. This use of the drugs supposedly “having nothing whatsoever to do with what these drugs were granted market approval for” and only cleverly chosen by the patient’s genetic profile. One of the drugs was in the news recently with a reference to colon cancer, so I suspected buhlsh’it and checked Wikipedia to find out exactly what the drugs were approved for…

    1. Zolinza: Inhibits “histone deacetylase”. I have no idea if this is related to colon cancer or not, but several forms of this enzyme are listed as being “ubiquitous” in the body. Maybe Gorski can tell us if approval as an inhibitor for that implies use against colon cancer.
    2. Xeloda: “orally-administered chemotherapeutic [oh no! -carl] agent used in the treatment of metastatic breast and colorectal cancers.”
    3. Avastin: “approved by the FDA in February 2004 for use in metastatic colorectal cancer” (maybe only in pirates)

    So at least two of those drugs most certainly do NOT have “nothing to do with” colon cancer. The only difference between the approval and Burzynski’s secret genetic Ouija board analysis is that he is using them to treat stage I colon cancer instead of stage IV colon cancer for which they were approved. Wow, what ground-breaking insight.

    At 9:49, we are shown before-and-after images of the vanishing tumor for this same patient:
    http://i.imgur.com/lOuV7AO.png

    I am not qualified to analyze any one such image, but I can’t help noticing that, between those TWO images, the tumor isn’t the only thing different in the second. What is all that stuff, and why is it different?

    1. pmoran2013 says:

      The coronal “slice” (the right one) is considerably further anterior and likely to miss a colonic lesion. This is sloppy. I would not trust anyone not alive to the absolute necessity of presenting comparable images. It is not the kind of mistake a serious clinician or researcher should make.

      The other scan could be at the right level. Confirming data would have been printed on the original films, but we are denied that, too.

      Not that it matters a lot, except that such a response of colonic cancer to the chemotherapy employed would have been a very interesting and unusual observation and worth proper publication. (Surgery would have been a surer bet, and especially for the long term.)

  7. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    I am not qualified to analyze any one such image, but I can’t help noticing that, between those TWO images, the tumor isn’t the only thing different in the second. What is all that stuff, and why is it different?

    Even to my untrained eye (does House count?) those two images look like scans of totally different slices of the body.

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