Cancer Clinical trials Complementary and alternative medicine

The fundamental intellectual dishonesty of Eric Merola and his promotion of Stanislaw Burzynski

About a month ago, Eric Merola screened his second movie about “brave maverick doctor” Stanislaw Burzynski, Burzynski: Cancer Is A Serious Business, Part 2 (henceforth referred to as “Burzynski II”), a screening that Brian Thompson and an unnamed colleague from the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) attended, took notes, and even managed to ask a question. At the time, I took advantage of Brian’s awesome commentary about his experience on the JREF Swift Blog, his copious notes, and my read on Eric Merola’s trailers for the movie, what he said in the first movie, and his own promotional material to write about how Merola dishonestly demonizes what he refers to as “The Skeptics” (i.e., us) and five major misconceptions about Burzynski, cancer, and skeptics promoted in Burzynski II, all with a heapin’ helpin’ of conspiracy mongering. In this post, I will delve into a little more detail about the fundamental intellectual dishonesty behind Eric Merola’s conspiracy mongering. Merola himself, thankfully (I guess) has allowed me to do this by posting an edited version of that original Q&A to YouTube:

In particular, note how everything I said in my previous post about what went on at the Q&A is verified, and in fact you now have the details. I will try to mention the specific time points to refer to as I go along. Also note that there is a segment at about the 47:45 mark in which JREF’s Brian Thompson (blurred out but still recognizable) speaks with the husband of one of Burzynski’s patients that is worth watching and that I will briefly discuss further into this post.

Two things got me to thinking that I was probably due to write about Stanislaw Burzynski and his propagandist Eric Merola again. The first thing, of course, was the video posted above. The second thing was a rather odd online encounter that I had with Eric Merola a couple of weeks ago. It was so bizarre that it left me scratching my head and thinking that Merola really needs to look at how he appears online. Regular readers probably remember that a couple of weeks ago I posted a shameless plug featuring a link to a YouTube video of a talk a “friend” of mine did for the National Capital Area Skeptics on March 9. After having viewed it, apparently in its entirety, Merola decided that I was either a white supremacist or some sort of puppy-eating monster. (Meanwhile, apparently Jake Crosby has taken note and, after a mere six weeks, published a hilariously inept response as well. But I digress.)

Merola’s ill-considered Twitter adventures got me interested in what he might be up to again, as did learning that he would be appearing at a screening of Burzynski II in Toronto. As with Merola’s screening at San Luis Obispo on March 10, this April 5 screening in Toronto was attended by at least one skeptic, who was kind enough to do the same thing our colleagues did in California and provide me with notes. I hope that my discussion of these Q&A’s will serve, along with my previous discussions, as educational background for skeptics who attend further screenings of the Burzynski movie, for example the upcoming screening on April 27 at the Newport Beach Film Festival, which will feature the same two Burzynski patients (Mary Jo Siegel and Tori Moreno) and where, we are promised, there may be a “surprise special guest,” which makes me wonder if ol’ Stan himself is going to show, given that we already know that his son Dr. Greg Burzynski will be there.

Eric Merola doubles down on the conspiracy mongering

The very first thing I noticed upon viewing the YouTube video of the Q&A from March was that the sheer conspiracy mongering that Merola engages in was not adequately captured by the notes. It is truly, truly over the top, fully into Gary Null, Mike Adams, and Alex Jones territory. For instance, take a look at the segment beginning at about the 13:56 mark, in which Merola discusses how former senior advisor to President Obama David Axelrod allegedly watched the film. I wrote about this in my first discussion of this movie a month ago, but the reports I got failed to convey the full scope of its true conspiracy theory awesomeness.

Here’s how Merola describes the alleged viewing and Mr. Axelrod’s alleged reaction to it:

David Axelrod saw a rough cut of my first film in late 2009, privately through someone who was old college buddies with him. I wasn’t present during the private screenings.

David Axelrod was President Obama’s Chief of Staff at the time and after watching the film, he said that “it’s very important but it’s just too big.” He said “we can’t face this in this country not for at least ten years” and, he even alluded that the economy had just tanked. He even alluded that it could possibly send the country into a further recession because of what it would do to companies like Amgen which is 90% reliant on cancer therapies. It would, the stock market would, plummet if this thing was released. And this comes from the pharmaceutical world. It’s just the sad reality.

It’s almost as big as oil. I mean, countries have gone to war for a resource this valuable and it’s a really, really big deal in the market. They just can’t allow it and I can understand it from a market point of view. If I was a CEO or on the Board of pharma, from a purely preservation, self-preservation of the establishment point of view, I can understand where they’re coming from, but obviously from a morality point of view it’s much more difficult to wrap your heads around.

So what we have is a second hand story, in which an unnamed friend of Merola allegedly showed a rough cut of Burzynski I to Axelrod and then reported back that Axelrod thought the information was such a bombshell that if the Obama administration did anything about it it would risk tanking the economy again before it could recover from the 2008 financial meltdown by destroying major pharmaceutical companies like Amgen. This is not a mistake. Merola repeated this very same story near the very beginning of his Q&A in Toronto, although he apparently did preface it with a disclaimer to the effect of something like, “I have no proof of this. You can believe me or not.” Clearly, the David Axelrod story is going to be a regular feature of Merola’s movie publicity tour, and Merola plans on using it at every Q&A. I can only hope that my reporting on it last time led him to add that little disclaimer. More importantly, I would love to see whether David Axelrod will actually respond to this, particularly now that we have evidence that Merola is telling this story other than reports of promoters of science-based medicine who were brave enough to go into the veritable lions’ den a month ago.

The other thing that amazed me was how shameless Merola is about, in essence, publicizing Burzynski’s plan to break the spirit and possibly intent of the law. What I’m referring to is how Merola opengly brags that Burzynski wants to get antineoplastons approved for brainstem glioma through the accelerated approval mechanism (also known as “fast track”) and then to use that approval as the “foot in the door” to allow the use of antineoplastons off-label for other cancer types. While it is legal to use FDA-approved drugs off-label, openly planning to gain approval of a drug for one indication so that it can be used for a whole bunch of indications off-label is at least very shady to me. If it’s advertised in any way, it’s illegal; the FDA has come down on pharmaceutical companies for doing just that: Advertising off-label uses for their drugs. The double standard is also staggering, at least among Burzynski apologists. Can you imagine how some of them would react to a pharmaceutical company advertising off-label uses for its drugs? Oh, wait. We don’t have to imagine it. We already know. But somehow when Burzynski says he wants to get approval for one indication so that he can use antineoplastons for all cancer, suddenly instead of being a greedy sleaze, he’s some sort of hero of “health freedom.”

Next up, if you don’t believe me when I told you last time just how much Merola despises anyone whom he considers to be a member of “The Skeptics,” just mosey on over to the segments at the 21:25 and 35:45 marks. At the 21:25 mark, Merola is asked, “How did you discover the skeptics’ group and how did you gain access to the videoconference and do you know anything else about them?”

Merola’s answer:

Sure. Basically, these guys have no shame whatsoever. They have no problem letting everybody know their names and putting themselves out there. I really believe that the lower tier guys, like the guys that you saw, they put that on YouTube and were very proud of it. I went through a lawyer to get legal clearance to make sure I was safe. That’s why they’re blurred out and their names are hidden.

If you want to know the utter intellectual dishonesty of this answer, realize that the segment that Merola included in his movie was nothing more than a clip taken from the Virtual Skeptics podcast (episode 13, to be precise) in which Bob Blaskiewicz was talking about Burzynski and his plans to raise money . However, in the movie, he implied that it was some sort of secret conclave of skeptics plotting, blurred out their faces, and gave Bob Blaskiewicz an electronically distorted voice while creepy music played over the parts where he talks about Burzynski and how skeptics have to answer him online. Indeed, Merola’s segment in Burzynski II was apparently so over-the-top that the Virtual Skeptics recorded a segment in which Bob put devil horns on himself and proposed some “video extras” for Burzynski II. Also note the disconnect between the movie, which, according to reports, implies that skeptics—excuse me, “The Skeptics,” to use Merola’s term in his movie—are some shadowy cabal, while in the Q&A he admits that this stuff is on YouTube.

But none of that matters anyway because, apparently:

But the guys at the top, like the one guy who’s on all the payrolls, you know, it makes sense that there would be a paid group to try to dismantle this by using the media, the social media, to try to confuse everybody. So, working on the film, I wasn’t really too aware of The Skeptics until the patients kept complaining, saying, “I go on Twitter, you know, to help my fundraising, and I got attacked by all these guys calling themselves The Skeptics. I put something on Facebook, and The Skeptics attack my Facebook page. You know, I put my own blog up showing my MRIs. The Skeptics are attacking me there. Skeptics are calling me an actress or an actor. Skeptics are saying I’m laundering money. Skeptics are saying I’m pretending to have cancer. What is going on?” And as you saw with Ben and Laura, they went through psychiatric therapy because they were so terrorized by them. And you saw Pete and Hannah crying because of them.

They are just shameless, spineless people. And it was really, quite frankly, the patients just kept mentioning them. Well, OK, this is clearly part of the story. And as time went on I noticed that they started going after me as well, for obvious reasons. But what’s interesting. About two years ago, they were nonexistent, not even two years ago. It’s been the last 18 months they’ve come out of nowhere, and I think it’s because of the success of the original film. They accuse me of making an infomercial. They come up with these conspiracy theories that I was paid by Burzynski. So, it’s fascinating. There was only one or two things up until 18 months ago, and now they’ve come out in full force, as you’ve seen.

I wonder if I’m one of the “guys at the top.” If I am, this is the first I’ve heard of it.

Gee, Merola says that last bit as though it were a bad thing. He goes on to complain about how skeptics have “completely hijacked” Burzynski’s Wikipedia page and how he really really wanted to “call them out,” but for “legal reasons” and “running time.” Of course, I explained why it is that “The Skeptics” are so much more active this time. The reason is quite simple. About 18 months ago, Burzynski made the huge mistake of siccing his attack Teacup Chihuaha Marc Stephens on a teen skeptic in the U.K. by the name of Rhys Morgan. In doing so, he invoked the Streisand Effect in full bloom. It was such a fiasco that the Burzynski Clinic was forced to disavow Stephens. Because Merola’s movie was such a major component of the propaganda machine supporting Burzynski at the time, it was only natural that “The Skeptics” started to take notice of him. Given his increasingly hysterical statements and the amazing degree of conspiracy mongering in Burzynski II, even compared to Burzynski I, coupled with Merola’s pre-release promises to “expose The Skeptics,” it’s only natural that the skeptical movement in general, and those of us who’ve been commenting regularly on Burzynski in particular, would continue to take notice. Why wouldn’t we? When someone like Merola promises to slime me in a movie that will see international distribution, I take notice. Wouldn’t you? Merola’s either foolish, deluded, or intellectually dishonest to think that it would be otherwise.

The conspiracy mongering about “The Skeptics” continues. Around the 35:45 mark, Merola is asked who is paying “The Skeptics” and whether it’s been investigated. Merola’s response:

Yeah, I’ve done a lot of that myself, but frankly as you can imagine for legal reasons I just didn’t want to call them out. I’m not going to call them out. Not yet. I know who most all of them are. I know what they’re doing. One of them did try to hack the Burzynski web page—successfully hacked it. It was down for three days. But for legal reasons, because these guys are vicious and do not care about the truth—they only care about winning—and I don’t want to give them any reason to damage me any further or at all, frankly. So, yes, it’s been done, but they’re slippery, slippery people, and I’m not going to go any farther than that. But that would be a great thing, to have someone do a separate investigative report on just these guys, because most people—the festival staff, most people that watched it—said, “I’ve never even heard of these guys. I didn’t even know they existed.” Then they go back online, and they realize, wow, so they’re the ones doing all the damage online. They’re the ones doing this and that. That’s the best I can answer that. I’ve been trying to be careful myself, because they’re really nasty people.

I was struck by how paranoid this sounded, even more so than I had expected based on reports I received. I was also further struck at how Merola describes Burzynski critics, who according to him are more than happy—proud, even—to “put their names out there” as “spineless,” when he himself has decided for legal reasons not to “name names.” Of course, maybe the reason his lawyers told him not to “name names” is because they realized that much of what he says is likely to be libelous. Certainly, I consider it so from what I’ve been able to gather. I’m also struck by how Merola refers to “The Skeptics” as “vicious, vicious people,” and then can go on Twitter and refer to me as a white supremacist and someone who’s too busy eating puppies to bother reading the scientific literature about Burzynski. Of course, what really bothers Merola is he knows damned well that I’ve actually read nearly every paper I can get my hands on about antineoplastons. I also have the skill set to analyze them, and I wasn’t impressed.

Lessons for those who oppose Burzynski

The Q&A session at San Luis Obispo and what I’ve learned about the Q&A session after the Toronto screening of Burzynski II provide many lessons for skeptics. First and foremost, to me, at least, is the lesson that Eric Merola can’t be trusted. He is a true believer, and he despises skeptics. For instance, he clearly plans on repeating an unbelievable story about David Axelrod. He demonstrates time and time again that he does not understand science, clinical trials, or why science-based oncologists do not take Burzynski seriously. He’s using every tool at his disposal to promote Burzynski and is willing to cherry pick and distort information, use what I consider to be dishonest filmmaking techniques more akin to the slimiest political attack ads than to even activist documentaries, and in general demonstrate no regard for the truth. He’s also willing to use whatever contacts he has gained over the last three years to try to publicize Burzynski. Indeed, at the Toronto Q&A, Merola bragged about how Burzynski had apparently signed a deal for a biopic, even going so far as to suggest Sean Penn or Christoph Walz as actors to play Burzynski. At least, so Merola claims, adding that the next step will be to try to convince a studio to “have the courage” to get behind it. Given that the vast majority of such deals never result in a movie, no doubt if this effort fails, Merola will view it as “evidence” that the pharma cabal succeeded. In other words, one thing that anyone who wants to criticize Burzynski should know is that Merola is not convincible, not trustworthy, and likely to use whatever media contacts he has to attack, and anyone who wants to confront Merola at a Q&A with a skeptical question needs to be prepared for the types of spin he will bring to bear. In particular, that includes not giving him what I like to call a “weasel” opening that allows him to attack based on one mistake and ignore everything else. He’s very good at that.

Perhaps the sharpest lesson in just this sort of error and about how deceptive Merola can be occurs at the end of the video, around the 47:20 mark. It is there that Brian Thompson is portrayed trying to engage Steve Siegel. I must say, I truly admire him for this effort, but I also must reluctantly say that, as well as he did on everything else, he fell into a really basic trap that anyone who has immersed himself in Burzynski lore could have seen coming a mile away. Go and watch and see if you can see what it was. On the plus side, Thompson stayed calm, respectful, and made some really great points about how Burzynski seems to think that the rules don’t apply to him and the balance between personal freedom and protecting desperate cancer patients from pseudoscience. That was awesome. Unfortunately, at one point, Thompson said that Burzynski doesn’t publish, and that there is this thing called Medline/PubMed where you can search for peer-reviewed publications.

I cringed. I knew what was coming next, and Burzynski’s defenders didn’t disappoint.

Predictably, Steve Siegel pounced, offering to take Thompson to lunch and show him reams of “peer-reviewed publications.” Merola pounced, following Thompson with a shot of a PubMed search. Of course, I couldn’t help but laugh because the very first article on the PubMed search was one that I’ve blogged about before, as self-serving a bit of nonsense as I’ve ever heard from Burzynski. Certainly, it shows no new data, no clinical trials, no science other than Burzynski’s claims to be some sort of pioneer in “personalized gene-targeted cancer therapy” that M.D. Anderson and other renowned cancer centers are only now following. The whole thing closes out with a shot of Steve Siegel and Eric Merola gloating about how skeptics “don’t know what they’re talking about.” Ouch. It’s an incredibly easy trap to fall into if you aren’t intimately familiar with Burzynski, and unfortunately Thompson fell into it.

In fact, Burzynski does publish. That’s not the problem. The problem is that he publishes in bottom-feeding journals and has not yet published a completed phase II clinical trial. That’s plenty bad enough. Burzynski has only published abstracts and partial reports on phase II trials, none of which are particularly convincing. His publications are all, as far as I’ve been able to tell, crap, and I’ve read nearly all of them.

Indeed, I get the distinct feeling that all the criticism is starting to have an effect. According to the report on the Toronto Q&A, Burzynski is having difficulties. Apparently the clinic is struggling. Merola admits as much. He even openly talks about the clinic moving to other countries, which I presume he would not be able to do if Burzynski didn’t want him to. He even openly speculates that after Greg Burzynski takes over for his father might be the time for the Burzynski Clinic to go full “cancer tourism.”

If there’s anyone who personifies the term “delusion of grandeur,” it’s Eric Merola. As skeptics, we need to remember that. We also need to stay utterly science-based in our criticism as possible. In other words, when it comes to reason, science, and medicine, we need to be the anti-Merola.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

82 replies on “The fundamental intellectual dishonesty of Eric Merola and his promotion of Stanislaw Burzynski”

For legal reasons? The only legal reason I can think for him not saying any names is because he’s lying. There would be nothing illegal in stating facts, citing sources properly, and speaking the truth. One wonders if his “legal reasons” are more to play the victim than to actually avoid legal action. Seriously, can someone tell me what legal action anyone could take if he published an excerpt of a publicly posted blog or podcast? Because, again, I can’t think of any.

Oh, look, Axelrod and I have the same alma mater and the Institute of Politics is a whole two blocks away. I’d drop him a note if his E-mail address weren’t hidden in the on-line directory.

I can’t think of any legal reasons other than not wanting to be sued for libel.

Interesting that he mentions that we have no problem letting everyone know our names. I suppose I must be very low down the hierarchy then! One reason I continue to write under a pen name is that I know how intimidating people like Merola can be. I already know what my house looks like on Google Earth. Yes – that was Marc Stephens, who Burzynski has now disowned, but let’s not forget that Merola contacted Bob Blaskiewicz’s employer over Bob’s ‘extra-curricular activities’.

There are some vicious people out there who don’t care about the truth and have to rely on outrageous conspiracy theories. He got that bit right.

WRT “off label” use of antineoplastons – it’s worth repeating that both phenylacetate (the main “antineoplaton”) and phenylbutyrate (the “prodrug” for “antineoplastons”) are ALREADY available commercially (they’re called Ammonaps and Ammonul). And Insurance companies such as Aetna will approve the off-label use of phenylbutyrate for some cancers anyway.

David Axelrod saw a rough cut of my first film in late 2009 […]
David Axelrod was President Obama’s Chief of Staff at the time and after watching the film, he said that “it’s very important but it’s just too big.”

All these important people are arranging confidential private screenings of Mercola’s movie, and accepting everything in it uncritically as fact! What more support does his self-esteem need?

He even alluded that the economy had just tanked. He even alluded that it could possibly send the country into a further recession

“Allude”, he keeps using that word. I do not think it means what he thinks it means.

even going so far as to suggest Sean Penn or Christoph Walz as actors to play Burzynski

I suppose Lithgow wouldn’t be interested, having already done Emilio Lizardo. Gary Busey might be able to pull it off, but it would take some work to really kielbasa the joint.

“The Skeptics” revealed Part II:

“Watch DG Squirm” by Jake Crosby, AoA.

Let me read it again>

Jake proclaims:
“Watch DG struggle”: he is “the most prolific defamer the vaccine lobby has ever dumped on the blogosphere’; he composes “inarticulate on-line rants” and got a “30,000-euro grant from Bayer”. His “failed 2005 promise” is discussed – as is the after talk wherein G’s “hostility” is revealed; the “words ‘covered up’ got to him”. I could go on but won’t.

Yes, Jake has captured the essence of their fated meeting.
I have been able to view videos intermittently lately and have seen the interaction he’s discussing as well as two other videos involving Jake. Of course, I would never diagnose a person but like everyone else, I can observe and comment. Readers can refer to the videos and articles themselves, which are public, then creating their own opinion on the matter.

Jake does not live in the real world; I will go out on a limb and guess that he has problems interpretting how others behave, their motivation and what they mean when they speak English; in addition, he seems to perseverate on tiny, usually peripheral, details, failing to evaluate their import globally in regard to the issue at hand. I would venture that he has difficulties in self-evaluation as well, not being able to discern when he is in over his head.

As I have predicted recently at RI, his hatchet job does not contain data or documentaion of his claims- where are the pay stubs, Jake? Photos of Orac committing malfeasance?
Print-outs? Tapes transcibed from phone conversations?

However his prime audience accepts ‘research’ from AJW and every lame-brained hypothesis that his cohorts elaborate from shards of emotionalised havoc spewed from the nether reaches of their unconscious minds** so I imagine that they’ll have no problems with Jake’s fabrications and embellishmments- a veritable Rube Goldberg device outfitted in convoluted plotting worthy of a Stieg Larsson trilogy.

And I’m sure I’ll be accused of accepting money or ‘hospitality’ from our esteemed and gracious host ( with the most), Orac, for defending him.
Oh. Right. You got me Jake. Ouch!

** metaphor: I don’t actually believe in the unconscious mind as vividly portrayed in older psychological theories.

for legal reasons

One wonders if Merola’s lawyer is Orly Taitz. They have so much in common.

Legal reasons…

More like, “Cover my @ss because I’m lying it off – no names, no libel suit”

“inartiCULATE, verbose on-line rants”

Pardon me, I seem to have problems reading my notes..
from the tears in my eyes, most likely.

@narad – Wow – a Buckeroo Banzai reference! Ten points right there, brother. Now, on topic… I don’t understand, from my Australian perspective, why these guys haven’t been pulled up for their evident abuse of the medical system and nearly everything else that matters. I have my popcorn ready.

@Darwy – I mean, Merola might eat kittens for breakfast, or he might not, but have you ever seen any evidence that he doesn’t eat kittens? I mean, I’m just saying……

Sadly, the PR war is already lost. I attended the AACR (American Association for Cancer Research) Annual Meeting in DC last week. Alas, I did not see Orac or his friend in the crowd of over 18,000 researchers, doctors, and scientists. But when the bus driver (on my hotel shuttle to and from the Convention Center) learned that I was a cancer sufferer his very first words were, “have you heard of this fellow, Dr. Burzynski?” However, he was amazed and eventually thankful to hear “the other side” (i.e. the truth) behind his scam. These are the folks who need to be reached – not Mr. Merola and his sycophants.

<blockquote.And I’m sure I’ll be accused of accepting money or ‘hospitality’ from our esteemed and gracious host ( with the most), Orac, for defending him.

I bet he shares his favorite puppy recipes with you…

wherein G’s “hostility” is revealed; the “words ‘covered up’ got to him”. I could go on but won’t.

Yes, Jake has captured the essence of their fated meeting.

Jake got the wrong word, as usual. “Hostility” isn’t it. “Annoyance” at being pestered by such an immature, spiteful little pissant captures the flavor better. 🙂

What’s also highly amusing about Jake is how he thinks nothing of calling people liars, in the pay of big pharma, and even downright evil; yet if anyone gets the least bit critical or insulting in talking to him he clutches his pearls and cries, “Civility! Oh, the humanity!” Apparently civility to him is a one way street.

@ JGC:

Puppies have much too much fat for my liking.
I usually send out for grilled baby birds myself.

@ Orac:

Wrong word, wrong idea, wrong planet as per usual.

I counsel people and there’s something I truly wouldlike to say about Jake but can’t.. Orac and the minions don’t need to be psychic to imagine what it is.

Good advice, Orac. Definitely need to know your material front and back before going in against any woo peddler like Merola. I had a nice chat with Steve Novella at NECSS about live debates with people like that (the context being taking on the anti-vaxer at TAM and his appearance on Dr. Oz). Know your stuff and be polite and keep your composure. Even an eye roll can undo anything you’ve said.

I suspect a lot of the people who fall for this idea of a skeptical cabal don’t understand the idea of peer networks. There’s no fish in charge of the school, just individuals responding to the actions of their neighbors, leading up to emergent behaviors in the whole. There are some big fish, but they have influence because they’re well-connected nodes, not authorities who can pull rank or hand out marching orders.

That’s part of how the Streisand Effect leads to increased exposure. Someone nibbles a quack with valid criticism and finds himself facing intimidation and censorship by baseless lawsuit. His friends bring more attention to the issue, and their friends tell their friends, and so on. Next thing you know, the quack is in the spotlight, swarmed by critics who know what they’re talking about.

@ Denice #11
I do enjoy an accidental neologism.
Inarticululate vb. – to attempt, ineptly, to let out a long, wavering, high-pitched vocal sound.

@ Krebiozen:

Thanks. Always glad to be of service.
I seem to have had difficulties reading my notes AND typing.
Given the quality of the material involved, I am fortunate to have avoided other accidental ‘spillage’.

@ Denice,
I have a gremlin in my computer that adds typos to my comments after I have proof read, that I notice about a millisecond after I submit them.

I have heard that Eric Merola was also heavily involved in the making of Zeitgeist, so his intellectual dishonesty is not too surprising.

So Merola thinks it’s almost as big as oil; that countries have gone to war for resources this valuable? While at the same time Burzynski’s own research scientist interprets the FDA/scientific journal reticence to embrace Burzynski thusly: (via Pete the video blogger, Sept. 2012 facebook)

“Brain tumors are not a money raising factor because it’s a minority cancer. If this were treating mainstream cancer, as they are called, like a breast cancer, maybe they would look at it more seriously, but the numbers with the brain tumors. . .puts it in the category of not so feasible as far as money making, and so the priority, even though it’s the most vicious and it should be looked at more seriously, but it’s not the one that brings in the big bucks so let’s put it aside”‘.

This scientist also believes that the FDA “is just buying time; they just want to have him keep bringing numbers”, because the acceptance of Burzynski’s work is inevitable.

Even an eye roll can undo anything you’ve said.

That’s what would probably undo me. I can’t help rolling my eyes when someone like Eric Merola or Jake Crosby says something incredibly stupid.

I find that if Iclose my eyes and sigh, no one will notice the eye rolling.
And I try very hard not to blurt out, “Oh, J-sus!” or “Surely, you are joking”.

The length that DG guy is going through to get attention, he even tweeted a link to Jake’s article instead of quivering in the corner, blinded by Jake’s intellectual brilliance.

bronzedog @22

There’s no fish in charge of the school, just individuals responding to the actions of their neighbors, leading up to emergent behaviors in the whole.

According to Rupert Sheldrake this is due to a “morphogenic field”.

Fear the evil skeptical morphogenic field woosters.

The length that DG guy is going through to get attention, he even tweeted a link to Jake’s article instead of quivering in the corner, blinded by Jake’s intellectual brilliance.

More like making sure that Jake knew I was aware of his sad little rant. After all in the absence of a full response (which there won’t be), we wouldn’t want him to think I was completely ignoring him, would we? 🙂

I certainly picked a good day to stay around here.

The comments following Jake’s *piece de resistance* are similarly *intriguing*. Hmmmm.

Perhaps it’s wrong of me but I feel great sympathy for the AoA faithful- being led into deeper darkess by the un-seeing mindlessness of their leaders. If only I could ‘get through’ to a few of them. There have to be some on the edge who might curiously read Orac’s words or listen to the entire tape and perhaps wonder if Jake really has a grasp on what happened or if there is just the slightest possibily that he is off his mark.

Some one would have to question why educated people like Orac & Company would take so much time and effort to counter alt media prevarication. Most of us could earn real money plying our own trades overtime instead. If Big Pharma doesn’t pay us, why would we be so adamant and devoted?
I’ll stop myself before I start proselytising…

Hmm…. Young Masster Jacob’s frothing about Orac’s friend getting a Bayer grant as evidence of a Big!Pharma!Conspiracy!, but doesn’t he have some sort of family link to Monsanto?

Also WRT puppies- the fat is what makes them taste so nice. However, longpiglets have even more fat, and the younger they are, the better they taste.

I like mine with black pepper and lemon, or a nice tomato and mascarpone sauce, with basil and sprinklings of Gran Padano.

My thought when I read that was Christopher Walken, as well. He could capture the essence, I think.

And I try very hard not to blurt out, “Oh, J-sus!” or “Surely, you are joking”.

Stop calling me Shirley. With that degree of conspiracy-moongering BS, I would probably be making comments more along the lines of “Are you f*ing kidding me?” The people who have the patience to calmly and effectively deconstruct the woomeisters (Novella et al) have all of my respect.

“Apparently civility to him is a one way street.”

Apparently? That’s fundamental for AoA.

Jake must be having fun figuring out how to combine the fact that mercury exposures were dropping by 2000 in the Price study and supposedly for his Alabama cohort, but he still claims in responding to DG that mercury was in vaccines until, what? 2003? 2004? 2005?

He will be finding new inventive ways to claim that mercury dunnit for decades to come. I wonder if anyone will still be listening. Perhaps he can make a website with levetating dolphins and satanic ley lines to house his hypotheses.

Interesting blog post on Eric Merola’s link to “Zeitgeist.” Apparently, it was his brother or something that did that movie.


Boston Marathon. Explosions. Tragedy. Loss. Mourning.

I give Age of Autism two weeks at most to post an article linking or comparing these incidents to autism. It’s what they do.

I have just discovered that Eric Merola has served me with a copyright take down notice for my YouTube video on the Burzynski Clinic… one that Orac featured here several weeks ago. The only thing close to being copyrighted is a brief image of the poster for Merola’s film. The whole video is made of static images and my voice-over.

This is an unabashed attempt to silence critics… again.

You can find a mirror of the video here.

Feel free to download and mirror if you like.

I have just discovered that Eric Merola has served me with a copyright take down notice for my YouTube video on the Burzynski Clinic…

Did you file a counternotice? Regrettably, section 512(f) is more or less impotent, but you can at least enshrine it for posterity at Chilling Effects.

The big problem with our shadowy cabal The Skeptics is that we have no snappy slogans like:

“I have no proof of this. You can believe me or not.”

Can’t Lord Draconis Zeneca provide us with similar memorable slogans (as well as a logo)? Also, I’m running low on free coffee mugs and T-shirts.

We’ve done so much for the Cause…

I just started reading the post (busy day and it’s now 0:23 on the 16).

I counsel people and there’s something I truly wouldlike to say about Jake but can’t.. Orac and the minions don’t need to be psychic to imagine what it is.

I might need to be psychic because I would have a lot to say to JC.

More to come later.


@C0nc0rdance, how do I mirror your video? can you send it to me?

alain.toussaint at


@ Alain:

Jake could benefit from advisors outside the sub-culture of anti-vacciniana he currently inhabits.

Education provides more than just “book learning” but should also be a window unto a larger world: new students meet people from all over the globe- who speak other languages and follow other traditions from their own. Ideally, universities should be a gateway to freer thought and a wider grasp of general information that goes far beyond a student’s own area of focus.

It’s healthier want to learn about how others think and live rather than constantly re-playing the same stale, old tapes that exist inside your own head. Which, judging from his writing, is what I suppose he does.

Jake seems to have been working on increasing the amount of tunnel vision he currently suffers from DESPITE attending decent schools in modern, liberally oriented cities.
All of his family’s money can’t fix that.

Just listened to your talk with Jake’s question….I like that when he starts talking you can hear someone whisper “he’s crazy.” Nice.

I’d vote for Harvey Keitel to play Burzynski, but only because Brother Theodore is no longer with us.

I took the Dana Ullman link-bait and waded through the comments on Jake’s latest magnum opus — oh the humanity hilarity! There is some industrial-strength projection going on over there. This one made my day:

“You don’t know what you’re talking about. Have you published before?”

JAKE, you are published at AoA all the time… that is a few steps above most medical publications.

Oh FSM preserve us, no wonder this kid has such a swelled head. You heard it here folks, AoA is more prestigious than any of those so-called medical journals!

I’d vote for Harvey Keitel to play Burzynski, but only because Brother Theodore is no longer with us.

Well, Krupa was in one episode of the US remake of “Life on Mars” with Keitel, so maybe they could work together.

how do I mirror your video? can you send it to me?

Alain, I can get you a copy if you don’t know how to download YouTube videos (which can be a pain in the tokhes).

Note to c0nc0rdance: You might want to drop a line to ken [at] I’m also Narad over there, and we’ve exchanged some brief correspondence in the past.

@ Edith Prickly:

Oh I know.
See my remarks on the ‘culture’ [-cough-) of AoA above.

You know what’s funny? Jake posts his version of events, whereby he claims that autism numbers are dropping, proving to us he doesn’t know squat about “prevalence.” Then, right after his post on AoA, comes Anne “Xerox” Dachel telling their followers that numbers are going up.

True to form, no one questions AoA on why one contributor says numbers are falling while the other writes that they’re climbing. And anyone who does probably doesn’t get their comment published.

Edith @55,

Dullman tweeted this week that AofA is more credible than the BBC (I’m paraphrasing but that was the jist).

Speaking of the BBC, any word on when the Panorama episode dedicated to Count Stan will air?

Alain, I can get you a copy if you don’t know how to download YouTube videos

Yes please; I could do it on a linux workstation (with a python script) but not in windows.


MSII@55 – well, he is a homeopath, so that comparison probably makes sense to him. Homeopathic logic would dictate that a single-issue crank website full of misinformation is more valuable than an internationally-renowned news organization.

@ Denice,

I sort off get it that it’s healthier to have many advisers (sp? autocorrect from chrome) and I’ve been thinking of doing that myself in the future (say, apply for a visa and do a master in the USA). I want to rotate between different labs with different granting organism (NIH in the US, CIHR in canucksland).


@ Ren,

It feel to me that Jake is on a power trip and will gladly use it against its perceived enemy and thus, he tried to use his finding to discredit Orac.


Does anyone else note the irony of Blaxstead railing against Jake’s “journalistic integrity” when he is aiming his limp knob at them but have no problem with his “journalistic integrity” when Jake turns on Orac?

Alain – you need a copy of Applian Media Catcher. Just sayin’.

Does anyone else note the irony of Blaxstead railing against Jake’s “journalistic integrity” when he is aiming his limp knob at them but have no problem with his “journalistic integrity” when Jake turns on Orac?

Noted? I tasted the irony without having to open my mouth.

MO’B, duly noted, googled it, look fine, will shell out the credit card in a few week to buy it out.


#64 “Advisers” is correct. It is also AP style, followed by newspapers.

“Advisors” is also correct, but it is not AP style.

will shell out the credit card in a few week to buy it out.

Eighty bucks? On sale? I was able to simply* pluck the Burzynski video out of the Firefox cache. You can do this for free. As for “adviser,” I wouldn’t take AP style too seriously. There’s a slightly more formal connotation to the ‘-or’ version.

* Aside from the part where OS X really, really wants to hide this for some reason.

I haven’t paid any attention to the lunatic rantings of DJT for weeks, but Guy Chapman just updated the list of his sockpuppet Twitter spam accounts (he’s on his 10th account)so I checked out his latest incarnation. He’s now been reduced to writing poems and limericks about the Forbes article and his “free speech” being censored by Dr. Peter Lipson. This is truly hilarious. The man has deep, deep psychological problems:

From what I can glean from his incoherent babble, he posted a comment on the Forbes article that purported to have uncovered some conspiracy that Dr. Lipson and Orac are friends (or “buds”) and that prompted Dr. Lipson to delete the comment. As far as I know, the authors of Forbes articles doen’t even have the power to delete comments, so maybe Forbes smelled the crazy and deleted the comment themselves.

It’s not quite along the same lines as Alex Jones’s conspiracy rantings about the Boston bombings, false flag attacks and “The Craft” but loony tunes nonetheless.

Since DJT has already proven to be a 9/11 truther, he probably also believes that Navy Seals planted the Boston bombs with the cooperation of the FBI and the two brothers were just “patsies” who were set up and/or framed.

As a longtime university lecturer of Critical Thinking, I am concerned about the level of rhetoric and illogical bile that is published here in response to a fairly straightforward documentary about the theft of intellectual property and outright fraudulent science. No doubt, Burgynski nor Merola are without failures or financial motivation for telling their stories, but that is the nature of edited material, and others are free to do their own stories that may complete the work.

But the repeated rhetoric from the author of this blog, undermines the legitimacy of this site and should more seriously be screened unless, in the name of business and not science this blog does not care about anything but hits.

@bryan hall

Then pray tell, what do you find objectionable? I’d like to know.

Also, read the title of the blog. It may give you an explanation.

I am concerned about the level of rhetoric and illogical bile … the repeated rhetoric from the author of this blog, undermines the legitimacy of this site
If your comment is any guide, you seem to make no distinction between “critical thinking” and “pompous verbosity”.

As a longtime university lecturer of Critical Thinking

“[Kerouac’s] greatest performance when in this condition, according to a story Watts told me, was an appearance before an exclusive group of literary and academic figures at Harvard shortly after On the Road was published. He staggered to the lectern and said, ‘Well, this is a fine-looking collection of cocksuckers.’ Then he threw up. His audience, but not, I suspect, the janitor, rose as one man and applauded, with genuine appreciation and respect, according to Watts, this masterful performance.”

If your comment is any guide, you seem to make no distinction between “critical thinking” and “pompous verbosity”.

Heh. Of course, I’ve been known to engage in both. 🙂

Why are you dogging Alex Jones? Don’t attack someone unless you have evidence. Many people are suspicious of big pharma without cheating other people. I bet AJ would even disavow Burzynski. Just watch Burzynski’s demeanor – any sensitive soul can tell he’s an evil self-centered something and so is Eric Merola. It’s called nihilism.

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