Medical cranks: Why we fight

Never let it be said that I can’t match Mark Crislip in shameless self-promotion. The world might indeed need more Mark Crislip™, but I like to think that it needs a bit more David Gorski, too. So, in that spirit, here are the videos, recently released by the James Randi Educational Foundation, of Bob Blaskiewicz, myself, and some key SBM players that you’ve come to know and love. The first video is my talk at The Amazing Meeting in July about Stanislaw Burzynski, MD, PhD. It’s entitled Why We Fight (Part I): Stanislaw Burzynski Versus Science-Based Medicine. The second video is Bob Blaskiewicz, of Skeptical Humanities and The Other Burzynski Patient Group, It’s entitled, appropriately enough, Why We Fight (Part II): It’s All About the Patients. The third video is of the panel that followed to discuss Medical Cranks and Quacks. Enjoy!

Oh, and consider it a bit of a taste of what’s to come tomorrow…and don’t forget to pay attention to Bob Blaskiewicz’s plea at the end of his talk to contact him if you’re interested in becoming active. At TAM, he had a sign-up sheet that he discussed at around 21:06 in the video. Online, just mosey on over to The Other Burzynski Patient Group and contact Bob Blaskiewicz. We will very likely be asking you to help very soon.

Posted in: Cancer, Clinical Trials, Science and Medicine, Science and the Media

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22 thoughts on “Medical cranks: Why we fight

  1. DG says:

    Forgive my naivete but who is “Stanislaw Burzynski, MD, PhD” when he is at home? A while ago there was a rather famous Italian family physician hawking a miracle cocktail for cancer all over Canada and he came to my (former) home-town, Windsor, Ontario, which has a large Italian-Canadian community to specifically hawk it. People were going mad for the stuff (cancer patients and their families). I don’t know what happened to all that (false) hope. This was before the Zamboni treatment for MS, but it was a very similar situation.

    I guess I will google “Stanislaw Burzynski, MD, PhD”.

    1. David Gorski says:

      Or you could just search this blog for it. I’ve written fairly extensively about Burzynski.

      Just sayin’. :-)

      1. DG says:

        Ok, now I get it. Thanks for your Nov 2011 post introducing him. So why hasn’t this guy been shut down? If I was to trade on my medical degree to start a quack-based practice treating cancer patients with sham therapy (called “antineoplastons”), I’m pretty sure I would have the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario jumping down my throat lickety-split, and they would probably send in the police and government health regulators. Is this guy a regulated health professional in Texas? Even if he is not, is there no law that he is violating? Can anyone in the US legally set up a lemonaid stand and sell antineoplastons to gullible cancer patients? I find it remarkable that this guy is using his MD PhD to legally sell this quackery and no authority has attempted to stop him – there must be a back-story there….

        1. James says:

          They did try and stop him but since he was not breaking any laws in Texas the state government’s case against him failed.
          Also since he was not exporting his treatment across state lines the federal government had a very limited case against him.
          So through loopholes and a very good lawyers he was able to stay in practice.
          At the moment he is offering his treatment though a FDA trail study (another case of a loophole and good lawyers).

          1. DG says:

            Well I’ll be damned. I guess that’s what one gets for living in a country with weak regulation, near total penetration of privatized health care, extremely low taxes and 50 states that each have their own laws with respect to what can and can’t be practiced in the name of “medicine”. I guess that’s why people in Canada have to go to the US for unproven medical and surgical therapies like the Zamboni “treatment” for MS. It’s the Wild West of health care.

            I am not 100% certain but I am 99% sure that someone like this could not set up shop and practice unfounded rip-off oncology for 40+ years in a Canadian province under the guise of running clinical trials. We are so highly regulated by the state (which has pluses and minuses) that such a venture would likely be shut down very quickly. Private practice oncology just does not exist here – hopefully, never will. All major cancer care (“cutting, burning, poisoning”) is regionalized into large cancer treatment centres with large patient volumes. Not that we don’t have problems (e.g. longer waiting lists than the US and some queue-jumping by the elite). But if a Canadian patient wanted an unproven modality like antineoplastons, they would have to go to Texas for it (so would any American though, since it’s obvious that SB is the only centre that runs this sort of regime)….

            1. Mark McAndrew says:

              Same in the UK. Burzynski would have been jailed long ago.

              Recently the question of ‘does he actually believe it’ was answered conclusively. He’s never published the results of his trials – blaming the FDA for ‘not letting him’ prove his miracles – but now it turns out he’s actually destroyed his patient records (!), so nobody will ever know.

              Total fraud, liar, charlatan, quack – and I’d even call him a de facto murderer.

            2. Frederick says:

              I’m with you On that! I live in Quebec and i won’t exchange our health system for the USA one. No offense meant for our american Friends! Heatlh canada still got to work on regulation about Alt-med, anybody can offer pseud-science service.

              Anyway i that man should be jailed! in a deep dark hole beside Wakefield!, of course it seem that all pseudo-science nutcase take refuge in USA.

              1. James says:

                I am a recent transplant from the US (florida) living in Quebec (wife is originally from Quebec).
                I only use the health system here to refill my prescription for alertec.

                The system here works with the birth of my two children, mother in-law’s cancer surgery and brother in-law appendix removal. The health care here does what it is supposed to do. Keep people from getting into a big hole when something happens.

                It is not perfect such as long wait time for certain things (like mother in-law waiting months for use a hyperbaric chamber) and sometime it is difficult to get an appointment quickly. Overall I do prefer it over the system in the US.

              2. Harrison Bolter says:

                This is probably kind of OT, but…
                You Canadians may be viewing our health care reform battles with amusement–or maybe pity–and either way I can’t blame you!

                Alas, unless health care becomes as important in the US as drone strikes, subsidizing favored groups with tax breaks and gun rights, we’re probably going to continue to have a very screwed up health care system.

                OK, end of rant. Thanks for reading!

              3. Frederick says:

                @james, yeah of course there wait time, but i guess that Most health system have wait time, But once you are in, normally thing go fast, especially if you have a disease of wound that demand regular treatment. There shortage of doctors too, for different reason we could argue over for hours. but also shortage of resources. But you can see doctor anywhere, there o “sorry we are not part of you HMO”

                @Harrison I seriously hope for you country kind of take some money from the Army to have a free health care. The US have the potential of having the best health care in the world. I remember Sarah Palin and her “trial of death” the when to say “socialize MEDECINE” ( put some echo and the devil voice in there). Trial of death… huum? that’s not what the insurance company are doing? trying as hard as they can NOT to pay? since they are after profit?
                Anyway, i’m not American but i support you desire to make you country better

              4. James says:

                Wait times are expected which is true.
                This is a stark difference from when I was living in Miami where it was easier to get things done faster (of course you are paying through the nose if you do not have insurance).
                At the same time you could always pay a 3rd party for faster service.

  2. lisa quotes says:

    it is interesting how history tends to repeat itself.. feels like 19th century with all the talk about “miracles”.. )

    1. Kathy says:

      The nineteenth century is always with us. Since we don’t learn from history we will have to repeat it … and repeat it … and …

  3. Jutta Liebe says:

    I think we need to ask ourselves why so many people lost faith in science based medicine and Doctors, pharmaceuticals; especially the most gullible and low level educated population ? The answer to that may be, that fast moving advances in science were published en mass fast and it was scary, only to be later revised and updated. The confusion and inability to follow those rapid developments, by the general population, made them switch off and return to the simple , easy to swallow pseudoscience pill.
    Another problem was and is the escalating cost of medical care and perceived enormous profits made by “big Pharma’ and Doctors.
    It is futile to change the pseudoscience believers ( and conspiricy proponents) minds with facts. I know, i have tried. I’ve been called a “sheeple” in need to ” wake up” .
    I think transparency and easy to understand real-science-info in short, bite size info needs to be circulated especially to the social media continuously . That’s where most fools get their daily nonsense fix and pass it on. It’s extremely frustrating to have a serious argument let alone infuse real knowledge there.
    I am hopeful that education in schools will produce a brighter generation and that pseudoscience will disappear again soon.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      I think we need to ask ourselves why so many people lost faith in science based medicine and Doctors, pharmaceuticals; especially the most gullible and low level educated population ? The answer to that may be, that fast moving advances in science were published en mass fast and it was scary, only to be later revised and updated.

      Doctors, pharma and citizens must share the blame with journalists and editors. One reads a news story about this “amazing discovery of diabetes-reducing bacteria” on the front page, it is only on page six, at the very bottom, does one learn that the study is in rats.

    2. Greg says:

      “I think we need to ask ourselves why so many people lost faith in science based medicine and Doctors, pharmaceuticals;…”

      Undoubtedly there are quite a few factors, but medical quackery, incompetence and corruption probably rank among the highest.

      1. Frederick says:

        True to all that. there not only one layer to this problem.

        Doctor are also to blame. When somebody his treated by a Egocentric Doctor, it is normal that some my think that “they are only in for the money” Even In our universal health care system ( In Quebe) a lot of Doc seem to be more business man than Doctors .
        When The head of the “college des medecins” says Thats it is insulting that Doctors are seen as normal employees of the states like all the others ( you know that NORMAL people, yeurk) by the state, can only scratch my head. Doc’s have important job, as employees, they are employee. As citizen, They are citizen. you want to have a spécial Social status? One of my Best friend, she is in Med school and a lot of thing bug her. They pump up the Ego of the people. As if they want to make them believe they are superior member of society and better Human. Thing like “You are the elite”. No doubt some doctor have a hard time admitting they made a mistake. And Some crazy ones ( like Burzynski) can think it is legitimate for them for pump money from people.

        So when i heard my ex co-worker, who believe in his Sliver colloid woo woo and conspiracy theories, talking about a arrogant doctors he had once, who clearly did not help him NOT getting into pseudo-science. Can’t totally blame Him for for letting himself go into delusion. His old Doc was clearly a narcissistic bastard.

        i’m not saying that all Doc are like that, of course, But couple of them just is enough to make the whole group to look bad.

        1. Greg says:

          There’s an old joke about doctors:

          “What’s the difference between God and a doctor?”…..

          God doesn’t believe he’s a doctor!

  4. Frederick says:

    Just a Quick other comment, i just had the time to watch the third Video,
    Nice work and kudos to you. it is very interressting, and really make me want to do something.

    in the 3rd video, you mention Alt-med people having good people skill totally agree I remember this story ( i know it is just one example but it give a good idea) : a Friend of mine, she and her husband, also a friend, were looking for a osteopath for their baby on facebook. So i didn’t no say anything. cause i suspect she was a believer and i’ll get flame. facebook i not the place for that in ma opinion, anyway a women i don’t know commented on Her osteopath. She said that he was good, that one day, she went there for X condition, the guy ask her few question, and in the end, he said ” i wont do you anything, right now you body his telling you “you are healing by yourself” no need for me to do anything” and she than explain that he did not charge her any money! wow he his honest! what a good guy he was.
    I mean the guy, in some way, was honest. That women now remember him for that. That important.

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