As our great Lord Draconis Zeneca promises, besides the fantasies of filthy lucre in the minds of our opponents, there are other rewards to being one of his shills and minions besides getting to blog to my heart’s content about the pseudoscience and quackery that is “alternative” medicine. One of them is that sometimes I find out that my
victim target subject notices me.
So it was, when I became aware on Facebook that Eric Merola noticed me. Merola, as you might recall, is the producer of that paean to Stanislaw Burzynski, entitled, unimaginatively and awkwardly enough, Burzynski the Movie – Cancer Is a Serious Business. that would have made Leni Riefenstahl blush were she alive to have seen it. Actually, I’m not so sure that Riefenstahl as a filmmaker would have blushed because of the blatantness and lack of subtlety of Merola’s pro-Burzynski propaganda as been thoroughly disgusted by Merola’s utterly unimaginative and talentless filmmaking technique. He’s a hack. As I pointed out in my original review of the movie, not only is Burzynski the Movie a pile of slanted misinformation, but it’s a horrible movie just from a movie-making standpoint. Subtlety isn’t in Merola’s skillset. Nor is finding a narrator who doesn’t creep the audience out. Actually, storytelling appears not to be in Merola’s skillset either. I’m not joking when I say that, were I a “pioneering cancer researcher” of Burzynski’s ilk, I’d insist on better. After all, Burzynski certainly has the bucks to afford better. Don’t believe the movie’s that bad? Watch the entire movie for yourself on YouTube and judge for yourself. If you can stand it.
But what, pray tell, does Mr. Merola have to say about harmless, lovable little Orac? In case you don’t have a Facebook account, I’ll quote him and provide the link (in case you are on Facebook and want to be amused by the comments that follow):
ALERT! Hi everyone. The “anti-Burzynski” bloggers have been posting a new “hate” blog, filled with defamation, discrimination, outright falsehoods, virtually every day and more over the last two weeks. They have always been there, but for some reason they have decided to do all they can to try to deter any new patients from going to the clinic. These same people are also responsible for safe-guarding the propaganda contained within the Wikipedia pages on Dr. B. Burzynski is in the process of preparing to publish all of his Phase 2 trials, which is a halmark in his approval process. Perhaps those leading this campaign, most likely the hired PhRMA gun “Orac” have been given instructions to launch an all-out assault on Burzynski—since the establishment has failed so miserably finding any credible or useful evidence by using legal ground to do so. Just google “Burzynski” and see. It doesn’t do any good to use rational discourse with these people in the comment sections, as there is nothing rational about them, but it should be pointed out to all Burzynski and scientific-innovation supporters.
Orac? A “hate blog”? Come on. It’s nothing but butterflies and puppies here. And kitty cats and cute babies too. Hate? Orac doesn’t have a hateful bone in his body. Actually, I should say that Orac doesn’t have a hateful circuit in his clear Plexiglass box of multicolored blinking lights. Nor does Orac ever try to edit Wikipedia. He tried it once a long time ago and decided it was too much work to keep up with the cranks trying to burnish their heros’ credentials. He can’t do Wikipedia and maintain the output of this blog, and he likes blogging much better than slogging in the slime that can be Wikipedia. So he leaves it to other skeptics more suited to that task, giving them his gratitude and admiration. (No cash, alas.)
Of course, Mr. Merola doth protest a bit too much. It is true that before this post I had written three posts about Stanislaw Burzynski since November 2. However, before that I hadn’t done a post about him since August and then June before that. If you look at my output over the last year or so, I blog about Burzynski on average maybe once every month or two, often with long stretches where I don’t discuss him at all. This blog is about much more than Burzynski after all. There are antivaccinationists. There are quacks. There are other cranks. And there is science, mostly (but not always) medical.
It’s also particularly amusing that Mr. Merola accuses me of “leading” the whole Burzynski thing. I do nothing of the sort. In fact, I focus on Burzynski in my blog arguably less than many other blogs, including The 21st Floor and Skeptical Humanities, for example. Indeed, it was not I, but Bob Blaskiewicz, who created a Storify page telling the online story of patients who went to Burzynski for treatment and talked about it on social media. I am, however, a cancer surgeon and researcher, and perhaps that’s why Mr. Merola singles me out.
Be that as it may, I feel the need to conclude with one final observation. Mr. Merola claims that Stanislaw Burzynski is “preparing to publish all of his Phase 2 trials.” His claim would be more convincing were it not for the fact that Burzynski has been “preparing to publish all of his Phase 2 trials” at least since the 1990s and been claiming to do clinical trials for 30 years. He has yet to produce even a single bit of compelling evidence that his antineoplaston therapy works against deadly cancers in humans. Certainly he has produced nothing that supports the extravagant claims that Merola makes for Burzynski’s work. (Presumably Burzynski wouldn’t have allowed Merola to make these claims if he didn’t want them made.) As for his “publications,” as I’ve pointed out before, Burzynski hasn’t published in a halfway reputable journal since at least 2006, and that was a review article. The last actual study he appears to have published that’s in an PubMed-indexed journal was in 2003. From my perspective, it’s long past time for Burzynski to put up or shut up. In fact, he had a fantastic opportunity to “put up” back in the 1990s, when the NCI actually showed interest in his antineoplastons. He failed.
Of course, one can’t help but wonder if he wants to keep failing. It’s very lucrative to be able to project the appearance that his antineoplastons are promising therapy. Cold, hard evidence would put a stop to that rather quickly.