Note added by editor: The complete movie is now available on YouTube:
Although this blog is about medicine, specifically the scientific basis of medicine and threats to the scientific basis of medicine regardless of the source, several of us also have an interest in other forms of pseudoscience and threats to other branches of science. One branch of science that is, not surprisingly, critical to medicine is the science of biology, and the organizing theory of biology is the theory of evolution, which was first reported by Charles Darwin and subsequently synthesized with the developing science of genetics in the early 20th century and then with our increasing knowledge of molecular biology, genomics, and proteonomics whose rise ushered us into the 21st century. However, the implications of evolution, namely that humans and apes both evolved from a common ancestor and that humans, for all their belief of being different and superior to animals, are in fact related to animals in the great chain of life going all the way back to single-celled organisms, does not go down well with certain religious fundamentalists, particularly Christian fundamentalists. Whereas I (and I daresay several of my cobloggers) find the interconnectedness of life, including humans, implied by Darwin’s theory to be beautiful and uplifting, many fundamentalists see it as a profound threat to their world view. Consequently, they have attacked the theory of evolution at every turn and tried to insert creationism, particularly the latest incarnation of creationism known as “intelligent design,” into science classes as an “alternative” to “Darwinism.” The manner in which they torture science, logic, and reason to try to cast doubt on a theory that is every bit as rock solid in terms of massive quantities of experimental and observational evidence to support it as any other theory in science, if not more so, is legendary and well documented at blogs such as The Panda’s Thumb and websites such as Talk Origins.
Although one day I plan on writing about how insights from evolutionary theory have led to deeper understandings of human disease and strategies to improve human health in the future, this time I want to concentrate on the similarities in techniques of spreading disinformation between creationists and purveyors of unscientific medical “treatments.” For background, first, you need to be aware of a movie that was released in April. The movie, Expelled!: No Intelligence Allowed was released. Starring Ben Stein at his most unctuous sporting a bullhorn and styling himself as a conservative, buttoned-down version of Angus Young through his choice of apparel in its promotional material, the movie’s main theme is that any academic who “questioned Darwinism” is “expelled” from academia. The basic idea is that “intelligent design” creationism is being “suppressed” by biologists who just can’t accept the thought of the existence of a “designer” (i.e., God). Indeed, the movie goes so far as to equate biologists and scientists who accept the theory of evolution as the best current explanation for the diversity of life to Hitler and the Nazis and their “suppression” of “alternatives” (word choice intentional) to “Darwinism” to Nazi and Stalinist persecution of dissidents and perceived threats to the regime. The movie even features a sequence where Ben Stein visits Dachau and Auschwitz, as though to imply that biologists are busy firing up the ovens for the Brave Maverick Scientists who “dissent from Darwin.”
These Brave Maverick Scientists are a lot like the Brave Maverick Doctors who champion unscientific medicine. After all, Kevin Trudeau has made a cottage industry and sold millions of books based on the claim that there are “natural cures” that “they” (as in doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and the government) don’t want you to know about and that as a consequence the full forces of these groups are being marshalled to “suppress” them and “persecute” the Brave Maverick Doctors who dare to question the “orthodoxy” of “allopathic medicine,” up to and including claims of “Nazi”-like suppression. (Just read those repositories of quackery NaturalNews.com and Whale.to if you don’t believe me.) For the “alternative medicine” movement, it’s all there, in websites, blogs, and books. But one thing that the movement pushing unscientific treatments has lacked, and that’s a movie to call its own, a movie to spread the same message.
That is, until now.
The (Not-So-)Beautiful (Un)Truth
A number of readers have e-mailed to me links and references to a new movie, which recently completed a run in New York City from November 14 through 20 and is scheduled to open on Wednesday in Los Angeles and show there through December 4. I’m referring to a movie entitled The Beautiful Truth. Before the e-mails started, I had had no inkling that this movie was being made or that its release was on the horizon. Maybe it’s because the movie is only showing in New York and Los Angeles and hasn’t made it out of the media enclaves of those cities out to the rest of us in flyover country, or maybe its release is so limited that I just hadn’t heard of it. Or maybe it’s because it didn’t have the multimillion dollar marketing push from religious fundamentalists, coupled with a famous face like that of Ben Stein fronting it. However, what this movie reminds me of, more than anything else, is Ben Stein’s pseudoscience- and lie-filled bit of “intelligent design” creationism propaganda Expelled!. The similarities are eerie, at least in terms of the message. The Beautiful Truth may not have the marketing muscle or celebrity behind it that Expelled! had (and still has behind its release as a DVD), but it does have slick website, not to mention a lot of trailers and clips from the movie on YouTube and elsewhere.
These trailers and clips make it quite obvious that The Beautiful Truth is nothing less than a credulous paean to cancer quackery in much the same way that Expelled! was a credulous paean to “intelligent design” creationism coupled with a conspiracy theory casting advocates of pseudoscience as brave “skeptics” of scientific orthodoxy. Specifically, it’s a paean to the quackery known as the Gerson therapy, mixed in with a veritable cornucopia of dubious and fraudulent cancer treatments. If the dozen or so clips on the website and YouTube are any indication, this movie is nothing less than a tour into the dark heart of American quackery led by a credulous guide who has drunk deeply from the Kool Aid on sites like Whale.to, NaturalNews.com, and Mercola.com. Just as Expelled! claims that academics are “suppressing” any criticism of “Darwinism” or research into “intelligent design,” The Beautiful Truth postulates a grand suppression of this “alternative” cure for cancer that “they” don’t want you to know about. The movie is described thusly:
Garrett is a 15-year old boy living in the Alaskan wilderness with a menagerie of orphaned animals. Growing up close with nature has given him a deep understanding of nutritional needs required by diet sensitive animals on the reserve. Unfortunately, the untimely and tragic death of his mother propelled him into a downward spiral and he risked flunking out of school. This led to his father’s decision to home-school Garrett. His first assignment was to study a controversial book written by Dr. Max Gerson.
Note the religious overtones to this plot device holding the movie together. Indeed, this is nothing less than a conversion story, of which we hear many from religious fundamentalists, the kind where after a tragedy a troubled youth falls into a pit of despair, complete with substance abuse, bad grades, and falling in with the “wrong” crowd. Either as a result of his fall or as the cause of his fall, the youth rejects Jesus. Then, in such stories, inevitably someone shows the troubled youth the Bible and tells him all about Jesus again, and eventually the youth “sees the light” and is saved from the darkness. This movie sounds exactly like this, except with “alternative” medicine being the savior and Max Gerson providing the “miracles” in the form of a “miraculous cure” for cancer. This is not surprising, because so much of “alternative” medicine is more like religion than anything else–and a cult religion at that, as has been argued by my cobloggers at various times. No amount of evidence or science deters its adherents from their belief. But, if you really, believe, the Messiah Max Gerson will cure you–yes, you!–of your cancer, no matter how advanced
The description of the movie continues:
Written over 50 years ago, Dr. Gerson found that diet could, and did, cure cancer. Controversial at the time (and even today), Garrett took on the challenge of researching this amazing therapy, which drew the interest of his neighbors in the small Alaskan community. With the help of Dr. Gerson’s daughter, Charlotte Gerson, and grandson, Howard Strauss, they gave him the ammunition needed to go in search for the truth – a truth that would affect not only him, but his entire Alaskan village – all of whom wanted to know if these claims were true. After a number of cancer patients, who were diagnosed as terminal, shared their stories and their medical records with Garrett, it became abundantly clear that, contrary to the disinformation campaign spear-headed by the multi-billion dollar medical and pharmaceutical industry, a cure for virtually all cancers and chronic diseases does exist – and has existed for over 80 years!
Of course it has. It always has–at least, if you listen to people like Mike Adams, that is. Indeed, I wonder if he had a hand in this movie. Alas for my speculation, according to the press kit, at least, he didn’t. In any case, if you believe purveyors of many, many forms of quackery, there is always a cure for cancer out there that big pharma and the government have been “suppressing” because–well, it’s never entirely clear exactly why they would keep such a cure a secret or, more incredibly, how they could possibly keep such a secret. Indeed, these cancer “cures” strike me as being either the world’s most well-kept conspiracies of all time (after all, I’m a cancer surgeon and researcher and I’ve never heard from my colleagues even a hint of such an amazing cure for cancer in general or any specific cancer) or the worst-kept (after all, filmmakers like Steve Kroschel, writer, producer, and director of The Beautiful Truth, seem to have very little difficulty finding out all about it). In actuality, whether the secret of these “natural cures” is well or poorly kept seems to vary with the needs of the advocate telling the story.
Moreover, none of these claims makes much sense on a strictly logical basis. Think about it this way: So many people die of cancer every year that virtually every person in developed countries, doctors and cancer researchers–and, yes, even big pharma executives–included, have known, know, or will know someone with cancer. Many have seen or will see someone they love die of cancer, sometimes in horrific ways. Certainly over the more than four decades of my existence, I have had multiple family members who have died of cancer. In fact, right now my wife and I are dealing with the heartbreak of a close family member recently diagnosed with widely metastatic breast cancer, and I’ve been trying to work every contact I know to get her to the best oncologist in order to provide her with the best possible palliation. Do the makers of this movie think that I or any other cancer researcher (or even big pharma executive) would withhold knowledge of such a “cure” or keep it from others if I knew of it? Indeed, because cancer kills so many people, many of these very same doctors and researchers will end up battling the disease at some point in their lives, and many of them will end up dying of it themselves. I might even end up dying of cancer someday. You might end up dying of cancer someday. Does it make any sort of sense logically that every single one of these doctors, executives, and bureaucrats would dismiss or conspire to suppress (or even blindly ignore the evidence for its existence because of dogma and “business as usual” of) such an amazingly effective cure, if it really existed? No, it does not. Someone would talk, probably a lot of people. I know I would. Again, given how cancer has recently touched our family, I assure you, if such a cure existed, I would make damned sure that family member got it, no matter what it was, and if it truly worked as advertised I would make sure everyone else knew about it too. You can be sure that quite a few of those supposedly nefarious cancer researchers, government bureaucrats, and big pharma executives would too.
So now, not surprisingly, the filmmaker (through Garrett) has a mission:
Garrett’s mission now is to tell the world.
Of course it is. It always is. Because he’s been converted and is now an evangelist.
The Gerson “Therapy”
Let’s review a bit about just what the Gerson therapy is. It’s a so-called “nutritional” therapy for cancer that involves consuming large quantities of fruit and vegetable juices, raw liver, coupled with a “detoxification” regime that involves frequent coffee enemas. It is described thusly on the movie’s website:
The Gerson Therapy is a powerful, natural treatment that boosts your body’s own immune system to heal cancer, arthritis, heart disease, allergies and many other degenerative diseases. One aspect of the Gerson Therapy that sets it apart from most other treatment methods is its all-encompassing nature. An abundance of nutrients from thirteen fresh, organic juices is consumed every day, providing your body with a super dose of enzymes, minerals and nutrients. These substances then break down diseased tissue in the body, while enemas aid in eliminating the lifelong buildup of toxins from the liver.
With its whole-body approach to healing, the Gerson Therapy naturally reactivates your bodys magnificent ability to heal itself with no damaging side-effects. Over 200 articles in respected medical literature and thousands of people cured of their incurable diseases document the Gerson Therapy’s effectiveness. The Gerson Therapy is one of the few treatments to have a 60 year history of success.
Although its philosophy of cleansing and reactivating the body is simple, the Gerson Therapy is a complex method of treatment requiring significant attention to detail. While many patients have made full recoveries practicing the Gerson Therapy on their own, for best results it is recommended to begin treatment at a Gerson Institute licensed treatment center. For more information, visit www.gerson.org.
All the usual buzz words are there, the “naturalness” of it (although I’ve never been able to figure out how advocates of these sorts of “natural detoxification” regimens can think that pumping coffee up one’s posterior is in any way “natural”); the vague and scientifically meaningless “boosting the immune system” claim; and, above all, the “detoxification” claim. Apparently believers in the Gerson therapy (not to mention many other forms of “alternative medicine,” believe that our bodies (and colons) are packed with hideous toxins that are making us ill. Once again, how shoving coffee up one’s posterior removes “toxins” I fail to understand, but then I’m thinking about this scientifically rather than religiously. Adherents who believe in detoxification appear to me to do so more out of a belief analogous to religion that they are “unclean” and need “purification,” much the same way that some fundamentalist Muslims engage in ritual self-flagellation or the manner in which in Christian religions Baptism is believed to cleanse the soul. The Gerson protocol provides that “purification,” just as a wide variety of “colon cleansers” and “liver flushes” beloved of “alternative medicine” mavens. Unfortunately, they do not work against cancer and can lead to delays in treatment and, even worse, can rob patients with fatal cancer of effective palliation when they usurp scientific medicine.
Actually, the Gerson protocol was a precursor to the now more commonly discussed and more (in)famous Gonzalez protocol, which my co-blogger Dr. Kimball Atwood IV deconstructed in such exquisite detail over the course of several posts right here on this very blog a while back (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). Grafted onto the therapy by his daughter Charlotte since Max Gerson’s death have been other forms of woo, such as liver extract injections, ozone enemas, “live cell therapy,” thyroid tablets, castor oil enemas, clay packs, laetrile, and “vaccines” made from influenza virus and killed Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Gerson’s “evidence” in the form of his case series was examined by the National Cancer Institute back in the 1950s, and this is what was found:
In 1947, the NCI reviewed ten cases selected by Dr. Gerson and found his report unconvincing. That same year, a committee appointed by the New York County Medical Society reviewed records of 86 patients, examined ten patients, and found no evidence that the Gerson method had value in treating cancer. An NCI analysis of Dr. Gerson’s book A Cancer Therapy: Results of Fifty Cases concluded in 1959 that most of the cases failed to meet the criteria (such as histologic verification of cancer) for proper evaluation of a cancer case . A recent review of the Gerson treatment rationale concluded: (a) the “poisons” Gerson claimed to be present in processed foods have never been identified, (b) frequent coffee enemas have never been shown to mobilize and remove poisons from the liver and intestines of cancer patients, (c) there is no evidence that any such poisons are related to the onset of cancer, (d) there is no evidence that a “healing” inflammatory reaction exists that can seek out and kill cancer cells .
Charlotte Gerson claims that treatment at the clinic has produced high cure rates for many cancers. In 1986, however, investigators learned that patients were not monitored after they left the facility . Although clinic personnel later said they would follow their patients systematically, there is no published evidence that they have done so. A naturopath who visited the Gerson Clinic in 1983 was able to track 21 patients over a 5-year period (or until death) through annual letters or phone calls. At the 5-year mark, only one was still alive (but not cancer-free); the rest had succumbed to their cancer .
The cancer doctor in me knows that this is pretty much what would be expected if one were to follow 21 patients with advanced cancer who were being given no treatment. The exact timeframe for their deaths would vary depending upon the mix of cancers, but one could be pretty confident that very few, if any, of them would be alive after five years–or even two or three years. Moreover, because the Gerson regimen, like the Gonzalez regimen, is quite onerous and difficult to follow, only patients in relatively good shape to begin with can follow it, thus selecting for patients more likely to live longer with their metastatic cancer anyway.
But Back to the Quackery Propaganda…
If the clips posted to YouTube are any indication, this movie wastes no time in plunging down the rabbit hole of paranoid conspiracy-mongering. For example, here is its account of what happened to a reporter in the 1940s after reporting on Gerson’s claims:And here is an interview with Gerson from 1957 in which he claims so many patients that “you” (meaning doctors) had “sent home to die” whom he “cured”: In fact, as was the case for Expelled!, unacknowledged conspiracy or even outright dogma is at the heart of the movie. Be sure to check out this trailer for The Beautiful Truth as well. It’s got it all, including a leading question: “If your doctor knew of a cure for cancer that didn’t require expensive drugs, he would tell you, wouldn’t he?” In the typical “science has been wrong before” combined with “doctors will say anything if they’re paid enough” gambit, there are also the obligatory excerpts from cigarette ads from the 1940s and 1950s asking “What cigarette do you smoke, doctor?” Then there’s a woman who (I assume) is Charlotte Gerson ranting about how doctors can’t afford to let patients see “alternative” doctors because “alternative” medicine cures people when “conventional” medicine can’t and about how people have been “so brainwashed for so long.” In other words, it’s the same, tired old propaganda that so many quacks have been claiming for so long. It is propaganda that the esteemed director of this film seems perfectly predisposed to believe, as he appears not to have an ounce of skepticism in him, at least if his Director’s Statement is any indication:
I have worked with injured and orphaned wild animals and have been moved by the rcovery of wildlife from illness and disease by the nutritional therapies that I used. So when I was introduced to the work of Dr. Max Gerson on human nutrition by an associate, I wanted to investigate these amazing claims. I was startled by these discovereds, and, frankly, it has changed my life–especially when I was able to meet the people who should have been dead due to terminal cancer.
Since I am a filmmaker, I wanted to meet Dr. Gerson’s family and do a short film for charity. The fallout from that earlier work was so controversial, far-reaching, yet uplifting; I decided to make a feature length film.
I’ve spoken with hundreds of people about Gerson’s therapy and many people related their recovers, their skepticism and bias–most of which came from the medical community. But what I quickly found out that those who dismissed the therapy did not have conclusive evidence that it didn’t work. In doing more investigation, it quickly became evident that an almost criminal set of priorities has been in play when it comes to treating human disease.
In other words, Steve Kroschel is a credulous soul who hasn’t the slightest clue about how to evaluate scientific evidence relating to the efficacy of a cancer therapy (or any therapy, for that matter). He clearly has no idea how scientists and doctors determine whether any given therapy has any activity against cancer and assumes that they dismiss the Gerson therapy because of their bias against “unconventional” therapies. In other words, he’s a clueless wonder. In fact, he’s so credulous that the Gerson therapy and cancer aren’t enough for him. Here’s where the next similarity to Expelled! comes in, as Kroschel descends to the same level as Ben Stein did in Expelled! in an anti-fluoridation segment that’s replete with images of Hitler and his concentration camps, along with claims that Hitler wanted to use sodium fluoride as a technique for mass sterilization, presumably of the Jews:Calling Mr. Godwin! Your presence is requested in the movie theater immediately!Kroschel also delves into dental amalgam quackery. The deconstruction of this particular form of “alt-med” is beyond the scope of this post, but Quackwatch and our very own Harriet Hall have provided excellent discussions for why the claims that the mercury in dental amalgams is some sort of horrific health threat is nonsense and why dentists and “alternative” practitioners who insist that people need to have their amalgam fillings removed in order to “detoxify” are almost invariably quacks. Suffice it to say that there is a widespread and paranoid belief that somehow the mercury in dental amalgams is causing all sorts of horrific health problems, much the same way that the mercury militia thinks that mercury in vaccines causes autism, and clearly Kroschel believes this pseudoscience as well: Hilariously, there’s a segment in the video above of the dreaded “smoking tooth” video which in reality caught nothing more than water vapor. It’s one of the most amusingly silly bits of extravagant quackery that I’ve ever seen and always good for a hearty belly laugh (or a cry when I realize that there are a number of people who actually believe this sort of stuff) whenever I watch it. Unfortunately, Kroschel actually seems to think that this video is slam-dunk evidence of anything other than the video maker’s utter credulity. Now, like Harriet, I’m not saying that it isn’t possible that small amounts of mercury may escape from amalgams over many years, but no one has yet produced any remotely convincing evidence that (1) it is any more than trace amounts; (2) that any significant amount is actually absorbed at significant levels; or (3) that amalgams are linked with any health problems at all. In reality, the crowd that believes that dental amalgams cause all sorts of horrific chronic health problems is very much like the anti-vaccine crowd known as the “mercury militia,” which clings to the scientifically discredited belief that mercury in the thimerosal preservative that used to be common in childhood vaccines was a major cause of autism or people who try to link mercury from the smokestack emissions from power plants with autism. Both rely on misunderstandings, confuse correlation with causation, and a studied ignorance of the principle that the dose makes the poison. Yes, mercury is toxic, but not at all doses and not at the doses that were in vaccines and are in dental amalgams.As amusing (in a warped way) as I find the dreaded “smoking tooth” clip, my favorite segment is this next clip. Really, if you watch only one of the clips in this post, make this next clip the one. You won’t regret it. You really won’t. I swear. It has that sort of paranormal buzz about it that I find irresistable: I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t stop laughing after I watched this clip. In it, two pictures are shown. One, we are told, is of a cooked baby carrot. The other, we are told, is of an uncooked baby carrot. The narrator proclaims, “The uncooked carrot has a startling line of strong energy” that–surprise, surprise!–the cooked carrot obviously lacks. Never mind that we have no idea what techniques were used to take these pictures or even what this “energy” is supposed to be. The conclusion? Pasteurized food is “dead, dead, DEAD” apparently just like the parrot in a certain famous Monty Python sketch and not unlike Steve Kroschel’s brain. Now, whatever negative nutritional changes cooking may induce in food, which may include the breakdown or degradation of some nutrients, this sort of nonsense is simply nothing more than superstitious vitalism, an ancient belief that there is a “life force” or “life energy” that animates life and is the difference between living matter and dead matter. It turns out that belief in vitalism is at the heart of many unscientific “alternative medicine” practices, for example, virtually any “energy healing” modality, such as reiki, therapeutic touch, acupuncture, or any other therapy that claims to manipulate qi. Those who believe in vitalism also often believe that it is somehow better to eat “live” food, as if we can somehow absorb its life force by eating it. It also looks no different than the hilarious quackery of “aura” cameras for humans or perhaps so-called “bioluminal” photography.Call me psychic if you want (or say I have delusions of being a psychic), but I’ll hazard a prediction here, not having seen the whole movie and noting the fact that there isn’t any information about all the cancer patients “cured” with Gerson therapy. My prediction? I predict that there will be the usual “testimonials” by people who say they were “sent home to die” by their oncologists, only to be “saved” by Gerson or his daughter. There will be Messianic overtones (with Gerson as the Messiah, of course) and a strong similarities to religious conversion stories in the testimonials, as I’ve pointed out before about such stories. Most importantly, though, in not a single one of the testimonials in the movie will there be sufficient detail or evidence presented to allow one to draw any reliable or convincing conclusions whatsoever regarding whether the Gerson therapy, in fact, cured the patient’s cancer. (There never is.) Key information will be missing from each and every such testimonial. (It always is.) I realize I’m going out on a limb here, but what’s the point of being a blogger if you don’t take outrageous risks from time to time? In any case, I’ve seen enough testimonials and observed how they are used to sell “alternative” medical therapies to know what to expect without even having to watch the movie.
Unfortunately, it’s too late for those of you in New York, as the film’s run there is over, but here’s one good thing about this movie for readers living in L.A. After some of the shows during the film’s L.A. run over the Thanksgiving weekend, there will be question-and-answer sessions featuring Howard Straus, Charlotte Gerson, and Polly Emery. This looks to me like an excellent opportunity for any enterprising medical skeptical doctors to try to put Gerson’s offsprings’ feet to the fire and try to get them to provide answers consisting of more than just the usual testimonials and claims that “they” are “suppressing” the “Truth.” Certainly, were I still living in New Jersey, I would have been highly tempted to make an appearance. On the other hand, it takes a hearty soul to do this sort of thing and plunge into the proverbial lions’ den. After all, people likely to make up the audience for such a movie want to believe, and likely the reaction to skeptical questions would be about the same as the reaction from the audience of the screening of Expelled! at which Richard Dawkins showed up. After all, on The Beautiful Truth blog, all I find are glowing “reviews” and posts about how popular and well-received the movie supposedly was in New York, not to mention a testimonial or two about “natural” cures.
The Beautiful Truth and Expelled!: The differences are only skin deep
The more I watch the clips from this movie, the more appropriate I think the comparison between The Beautiful Truth and Expelled! is. All the elements are there: Outrageous pseudoscience. Check. A scientific orthodoxy supposedly so blinded by greed and ideology that it can’t accept that Max Gerson “cured” cancer and therefore treats the Gerson protocol it as a challenge to its medical hegemony, just as in the eyes of ID creationists those evil “Darwinists” supposedly can’t stand challenges to “Darwinism” and treat them as a challenge to their scientific hegemony. Check. And, of course, there is at least one Godwin-worthy gratuitous comparison to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. (Whether there are more or not, I can’t know without seeing the whole movie.) Check. From these clips and the descriptions of the movie on its website, it seems to me that all The Beautiful Truth lacks is Ben Stein in an Angus Young-style British schoolboy shorts walking up to oncologists and hospitals with a bullhorn and demanding why they don’t offer the Gerson therapy to their patients or, sans schoolboy pants, looking deeply contemplative and horrified at the ruins of Dachau or Auschwitz, and implying that doctors, the FDA, and the government are busy firing up the ovens for Dr. Gerson’s descendants, metaphorically speaking at least.
I suppose we can be grateful for that small mercy, at least. Ben Stein looks ridiculous in a British schoolboy uniform.
Be that as it may, as a cancer surgeon, I find such promotion of the most obvious and blatant cancer quackery to be utterly despicable and fear that it will lead some patients to believe that the Gerson therapy really does cure cancer and to abandon effective cancer therapies. Also as distressing, the manner in which Kroschel uses his son Garrett as the vessel into which he pours his “alternative” medicine agenda and his defense of quackery is profoundly creepy. One hopes he is not damaged by the experience. Even better would be if in a year or two Garrett rebels against his father, as so many teen boys do, and decides to become an oncologist (or, better yet, a surgical oncologist) who rejects the Gerson protocol as the quackery it is and dedicates himself to using only the best science-based cancer therapy. The irony would be delicious.
Sadly, I realize that such an outcome is highly unlikely. After all, the apple usually doesn’t fall too far from the tree. But a science-based medicine boosting surgical oncologist can always dream, can’t he?