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Bob and I are now published in Skeptical Inquirer

As regular readers know, I was quite happy that Skeptical Inquirer (SI) agreed to publish articles by Bob Blaskiewicz and myself about the highly dubious cancer doctor in Houston known as Stanislaw Burzynski. Indeed, Bob and I have been busily doing our best to promote it, appearing on various podcasts, including Point of Inquiry and, most recently, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, where once again we’ve called on skeptics to help us put pressure on our elected officials to prevent Dr. Burzynski from continuing to take advantage of desperate cancer patients, many with incurable disease, particularly incurable brain cancers. It’s in this spirit that I write this uncharacteristically brief post.

My only disappointment thus far was that SI is still largely print-only, which meant that I could only expose our article to subscribers and urge nonsubscribers to pick up a copy (which, by the way, you can still do, as I believe the issue with Bob’s and my articles is still on the stands). Given that my article was designed to be a primer on Stanislaw Burzynski for skeptics, while Bob’s article was intended to make suggestions about what you as supporters of science-based medicine can do to try to protect cancer patients, I’m now happy to announce that SI has published both of our articles online:


Read. Learn. Enjoy. Comment. And thanks to Kendrick Frazier and all the kind folks at SI for publishing our articles online as early as they could.

Thus enlightened and fortified with knowledge, then head on over to thehoustoncancerquack.com to find out what more you can do to help. Bob also has a Change.org petition. As I mentioned not too long ago, I’ll be in Darrell Issa’s neck of the woods in San Diego from April 5 to 9, where hopefully I’ll get to meet with some of the skeptics there to help in any way I can while I’m not attending the AACR meeting.

Finally, another reason why I’m happy that these articles have been published online is because it allows my readers who don’t subscribe to SI to have a chance to read them. It also gives you a chance to comment on them, and I hope you’ll do so below.

Posted in: Cancer, Politics and Regulation

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18 thoughts on “Bob and I are now published in Skeptical Inquirer

  1. mike says:

    I like SBM as a lay reader because it’s a refuge from so much lousy reporting, such as this article in today’s paper, full of single-study syndrome, correlation fallacy, fear-mongering, and weasel words:

    http://www.pressherald.com/news/Maine_study_suggests_arsenic_in_drinking_water_could_lower_intelligence_.html

    1. Andrey Pavlov says:

      Mike, I just wanted to say thanks for your comment. As a sometimes contributor and often commenter here, it is truly edifying to hear from lay readers that this is a useful resource.

  2. goodnightirene says:

    I subscribed online just to read the articles, even though I generally find SI a bore. I used to subscribe years ago but it got to be all about ghosts, monsters, Bigfoot, was Jesus a real person, et al. Seems to be for beginner skeptics.

    It’s a trial subscription, so I can still cancel, but I’ll probably let it go as a charitable contribution. :-)

    I thought the hostess on SGU kept asking you rather leading and titillating questions–she kept on about the urine used in early days by SB to make the anti-neoplastons and such. She didn’t seem all that science-oriented.

    Anyway, thanks for the effort. Hopefully, someone will be spared wasting their money and we may even move a bit closer to shutting SB down–or at least driving him to Mexico.

    1. Windriven says:

      I’m with you Irene. I subscribed a few years ago but found it a snoozer. Hope they’ll up their game in the future.

    2. Thor says:

      I’ve often wondered why such an honorable and respected figure as Dr. Novella, has Rebecca Watson, aka Skepchick, as a co-host on SGU. She is a divisive and controversial figure, especially in the online community. It would seem that her notoriety would lower the quality of the podcast and reduce its credibility somewhat. As many know, she’s the main character of “elevator-gate” at the WAC in 2011. And most remember Harriet Hall’s post here on SBM in February 2013 about the controversy surrounding her wearing a t-shirt at TAM 2012 with the words “I’m a Skeptic, not a Skepchick……..” on the back.
      I’m not trying to instigate a renewed debate on this, but since you brought her up I thought I’d mention it. Youtube videos on Watson that I’ve seen recently make me cringe. I have trouble listening to SGU now (having her persona and image in my mind), which is an otherwise fascinating and educational podcast.

      1. Windriven says:

        I am not a huge Watson fan either. But she adds a different perspective and prevents it from being a sausagefest.

        I was actually kinda on her side in elevatorgate – though she made it painful to defend her. Women shouldn’t have to put up with aggressive sexual overtures just because its late, she’s alone, and there is a fog of ethanol vapor in the air. “Wanna?” “No.” End of discussion. And really, does anybody want to crawl in the bag with someone they met in an elevator 30 seconds earlier? I have serious dog tendencies but … really?

        “I’m not trying to instigate a renewed debate on this”

        Hah! Good luck with that.

        1. Andrey Pavlov says:

          I tend to agree with you on this one Windriven. I’ve never really had an opinion one way or another on her. I certainly see her as adding value in general, just perhaps not as much as Dr. Novella or some others may. But of course, that can easily just be my perspective. I find the higher level meta-skepticism of Novella to be more valuable to me, but for many that is indeed inscrutable. Watson, I feel, provides not only a sort of “introductory” skepticism (i.e. she isn’t a scientist or a doctor, just an otherwise reasonably average person) but also a foil to the others and a role model for women.

          The divisiveness over EG and Dr. Hall’s shirt was something I viewed as random conflagrations that just happen because people are different, passionate, and have different tacks, thoughts, and ideas. You should see some of the utterly ridiculous fights I have on occasion with my better half. Any complex system will have failure points and I saw it as exactly that – not an indictment of either party per se but an inevitable and perfectly normal failure point in a complex system.

          And yes, I completely agree with you on EG. I see absolutely nothing wrong with hopping in bed with someone you met 30 seconds ago (moralistically, anyways. One can still be dumb about potential risks). But it should end as a polite request, recognizing it was an absurd longshot, and definitely not go beyond that.

          1. Thor says:

            Words of wisdom, as par. And healthy perspectives. I need to learn to be less judgmental.

            1. Andrey Pavlov says:

              Much too kind Thor. I’ll admit my thoughts on EG and all that at the time were much less clear. It forced me to pull back and think hard about the situation since these were, overall, groups and individuals I tend to respect.

              As for being less judgmental… that is always a work in progress. And one I myself fail at from time to time. As much as I try not to be, I am unfortunately still human ;-)

              But seriously, learning more deeply about all of the cognitive flaws, (the lack of) free will, etc combined with my previous education in evolutionary biology (which incorporated systems biology) has simply given me a different perspective. I now view everything as a system within a system.

              I still get pissed off at creationists and liars for Jesus though ;-)

        2. Thor says:

          Funny, I actually pondered that aspect of her role on SGU, as well. I never really thought much about her until some recent Youtube viewings (at the time of Dr. Hall’s post I didn’t even know she was on SGU). Now, she’s seems to be in the midst of quite an online ruckus within the skeptic community. It doesn’t appear to be about her role as a science podcaster, but about a sharp contrast of certain humanist values, perceptions and modes of communication.

          No really, Windriven—no debate.

        3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Elevatorgate and T-shirtgate were both wonderful and instrumental events in the history of the skeptical movement. To me what they said was “we are not special”. We are just as divisive, prone to hasty judgements and tribalism as all humans. Being skeptical, being a skeptic, being part of the skeptical movement does not grant us special license to transcend our ape ancestry. They should have humbled us. Sadly, I think it merely polarized us.

          But at least we didn’t end up in a land war with otters…yet.

    3. The Old Portland says:

      I agree that Skep Inq has been struggling to stay relevant, but it still has some good material in it. They’ve been doing less of the redundant Bigfoot and UFO debunking pieces lately. Overall the magazine is a manifestation of what happens when skepticism (a useful intellectual tool) becomes Skepticism (a club for like-minded people, an identity badge, a personal belief system). If nobody reads it but other Skeptics, how does it fulfill its mission of promoting skepticism?

      @ Mike re: the Press Herald (Maine). I agree their science and medicine reporting is the pits. But then, most news media are right down there with them. I’ve found that you can report just about any medical claims you like in the Press Herald, as long as you label them as a “Natural Foodie” column. Apparently being in the “Food” section relieves the Press Herald’s writers from any responsibility to interview people who have real knowledge about science and medicine.

  3. Drydoc says:

    Gives me a good reason to renew my subscription.

  4. Chris says:

    I picked up that copy of SI at the University Book Store after buying my son a *&^%$# used statistics text book for over two hundred dollars. At least SI was just under five dollars.

    1. Windriven says:

      “used statistics text book”

      Odds are you paid too much ;-)

      1. Chris says:

        Oh, I know I did, it looks oddly similar to the copy of the book I had for that class thirty five years ago. He usually looks for cheaper ways to get them either on Amazon or elsewhere. It is just once in a while he can’t, and you have to pay through the nose for certain text books. This is when he calls me in to be the walking wallet (he just quit his job so that he can finish college).

        One of the worst was the math text on real analysis that had not been changed in twenty years, and the used versions were hard to come by and just as pricey.

        Hopefully he will finally graduate this year with his math degree.

        There is a real racket in text books. I almost gagged at the store when I saw one professor was requiring students to buy a book he authored.

        1. Denise says:

          After more than twenty years out of school, I was compelled to refresh my knowledge of calculus before entering graduate school in 2008. What I don’t understand is why there has to be new and staggeringly expensive editions of basic mathematics books every couple of years. Are there new advances in calculus that need to be incorporated into the texts for introductory courses? Seems kinda scammy.

          1. Chris says:

            Nope. I have been told that they change the problems, but for math books that does not make sense because you have to “show your work.”

            I have two editions of a specific advanced engineering mathematics book separated by about thirty years, and they are very similar. Though the compute code in the “numerical analysis” bit is very different.

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