Cancer Clinical trials Complementary and alternative medicine Quackery Science Skepticism/critical thinking

Dr. Frank Arguello doesn’t much like science-based criticism of his atavistic chemotherapy

As I happened to be out last night at a function for my department, I didn’t have the time necessary to lay out a 2,000 word bit of Insolence. I did, however, have time to note that yet another practitioner unhappy with being criticized over his scientifically questionable treatment, in this case, Dr. Frank Arguello, has expressed grave, grave unhappiness with science-based criticism over his atavistic chemotherapy, so much so that he’s threatening to sue over it even though he really has no case. In fact, this guy is a bit more—shall we say?—over the top than the average subject of criticism, which is why his e-mails are more entertaining than the usual vacuous legal threats. So, until tomorrow, if you haven’t seen this already, take a gander at Dr. Frank Arguello’s response to science-based criticism. I realize that, given the overlap in readership between the two blogs, a lot of you have already seen this, but I’m also guessing that a lot of you haven’t. If you haven’t, you should. If you already have, note that additional responses from Dr. Arguello have been added to the post since Monday.

Until tomorrow, enjoy.

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]

39 replies on “Dr. Frank Arguello doesn’t much like science-based criticism of his atavistic chemotherapy”

I think Justin Bieber’s singing is analogous to the ugliness of frogs at night.

There, I said it.

Did he just propose a clinical trial “cage match?” The devolution of his discourse was mighty entertaining.

Our institute has been visited by many important scientists, most recently by Dr. Kary Mullis, the Nobel Prize winner in chemistry in 1993 for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a process which is hailed as one of the monumental scientific techniques of the twentieth century.

Kary Mullis is an HIV denialist. Is this an example of crank magnetism or crank gravity?

Do I detect a hint of gloating? I think letting Arguello speak for himself is an entertaining and educational exercise in getting hoist by one’s own petard.

@Dangerous Bacon,
Don’t insult frogs. I rather hear them in the evening, than Justin Bieber serenading under my window.

Whenever woo-meisters need to name-drop Nobel laureates you know that they have little else to offer- howvever it’s USUALLY Pauling not Mullis ( except for hiv/aids denialists) so he gets a few points for originality.

I see that among other shortcomings, Dr Arguello doesn’t know what the word “magnate” means.

And what the heck is that final threat that he’s fluent in French and will use it on anyone who interferes? What, he’s going to chase Orac down an alley and beat him to death with an accent circonflex?

fluent in French

I presume he was threatening to start swearing and throwing in four letter words.

Which as a threat is, well, pardon my French, les pyjamas du chat. He probably thinks that makes him le grand fromage.

And what the heck is that final threat that he’s fluent in French and will use it on anyone who interferes?

Aux barricades, comrades!

Maybe he’s planning to weaponize the collected works of Michel Foucault, or something of that sort.

@Denise: Brian Josephson is another Nobel laureate with some, shall I say, peculiar ideas. But I can understand why someone with a surname like Arguello (as opposed to, say, Adams) might be reluctant to drop that name.

“howvever it’s USUALLY Pauling not Mullis ( except for hiv/aids denialists) so he gets a few points for originality.”

Well, it would have to be a lab visit from Pauling’s ghost. He started pining for the fjords years ago.

@ rs:

Notice that I said “name-drop”

@ Eric Lund:

I don’t hear Josephson mentioned frequently.

Arguello is congratulating himself for (in addition to curing cancer) showing remarkable restraint with his language. But were he to let his expletive-rich vocabulary (i.e., his “French”) off-leash, oh it would be devastating.

Or maybe some filthy, broken Creole is Arguello’s native language (or what was spoken in the home). He surely labors with English and its regional dialects: Reason and Sense.


Eric Lund kinda beat me to the French joke I was gonna make: that Arquello would be quoting the works of Lacan, Deleuze, and Iragaray at length until his opponents’ heads go full David Cronenberg.

That said, love Monty Python cite, but I can’t imagine Arguello being anywhere near that clever.

Dr Arguello doesn’t know what the word “magnate” means.

Magnates, how do they work?

A msg. from some politics site I never visit but sends me emails anyway just hit my Inbox. This group is seeking donations to aid Mexican beekeepers in their conflict with Monsanto: the premise being that Roundup is a major culprit in the bee-pocalypse.

There’s apparently enough evidence of this that two Mexican courts have revoked permits Monsanto had received for massive planting of GM crops engineered to resist Roundup, and I guess more or less require Roundup to thrive.

The email linked this news item:

My thoughts: AFAICT the bee-pocalypse is a real and very serious Thing. The propositon the broader nature of GMO agriculture is a significant contributor to this is entirely distinct from claims that ingestion of GMO derived foods has any deleterious health effects on humans. That is, while I am EXTREMELY doubtful that chowing down on a burger ground from cattle raised on GMO feed is any worse for me than any other burger, having lived most of my life in the corn belt, and thus aware of how the Farm Crises of the 80s were fueled by the soil depletion resulting from the mono-cropping practices of Agribusiness, the idea that Monsanto’s program might be, uh, less-than-ecologically-sound is hardly a reach.

So, I’m just wondering what anyone here might make of the science considered by the Mexican courts, or the larger pesticides-killing-the-bees question — with proper declarations that you are not in fact MMMs [Monsanto Mod Magnates 🙂 ].

@ sadmar

Against my better judgement, because any GMO topic is a sure way to derail a thread…

The comments under the Guardian article say it all, really.
There are legitimate concerns about soil erosion due to intensive agriculture, monoculture leading to a lack of wild flowers for bees to feed of, and so on. These reasons are good enough to be cautious about dramatically changing the agricultural landscape in any place.
There is also some confusion about the actors under review. There seem to be some concerns about a new class of pesticides, the neonicotinoids. But these are insect-killers, not weed-killers. Glyphosate is a weed-killer. So its influence on bees is, AFAIK, tenuous and indirect at best.
The proposed GM plants are round-up ready soybeans, i.e. plants which are tolerant to round-up, a.k.a. glyphosate (and no, the plant doesn’t need glyphosate to “thrive” – but like any cultivated plant, it will benefit from having less weeds to compete with).
In short, the issue, again, is not GMO but modern agricultural practices as a whole. Pour in a good dose of local power struggle and international trade politics as well: someone pointed that one of the reasons advanced by the beekeepers – and a valid economical reason, I would say – was that a honey “contaminated” with GMO pollen would be bared from sales in the European Union (I can easily imagine the hysterical news headlines in French).

As to the “the science considered by the Mexican courts”, it would be easier to have an opinion on it if we know what science the Mexican court considered. The Guardian article gave absolutely no hint about it, and the people in the comments section are equally clueless. Oh, we got a few links to websites who expressed a belief in the nastiness of GMOs, but nowhere it is said that’s what the Mexican judges used.

The Mexican court decision is really about Mexican honey exports to Europe. GM pollen in the honey will mean Europe will reject the shipments.

I would say – was that a honey “contaminated” with GMO pollen would be bared from sales in the European Union (I can easily imagine the hysterical news headlines in French).

The EU is only concerned about foods that contain more than 0.9% GM ingredients, and even then it only insists on labeling to that effect. Since honey contains less than 0.5% pollen, I don’t think that would be a problem in this case. though hysterical Europeans having conniptions over GM pollen in their honey is a possibility.

Back on topic, I can thoroughly recommend the Popehat blog mentioned by Orac. There is one line in particular, where he responds to an assertion in one of Arguello’s emails, that had me giggling:

“I had a short conversation with my lawyer concerning this matter, and it appears that you have been crossing the line and targeting people by name. I am wondering if I should join forces with others as a class suit, or do it alone. The question is how much can we get from you and your cronies?”

Is your lawyer a Weimaraner? Because anyone who gave you that legal advice spent most of law school licking his balls.

I’ve always thought that for a blinky box of lights, Orac’s has a certain amount of magnate-ism. I mean, he’s quite capable of drawing in readers.

brook, Orac may be many things, but I seriously doubt our blinky light box scribbles in the margins of books.

Oh, waitaminit… : – )

DrBollocks: that one had me laughing out loud. Hilarious, and pure genius. 😉

Oh noes! you could go to jail in Canada for your slander! I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that extradition hearing.

Looks like the Popehat folks have your back on this Orac. Not like you needed the help, but the thought is good.

Did Dr. Gorski have to take a class to get the promotion from Shill to Magnate, or was it just an exam, or is it more of a who you know kind of a thing?

So what sort of magnate do you want to be?

A refrigerator-magnate or a chick-magnate?

Sorry for being late to the party, but there is one thing that stands out to me with my health safety/quality hat on (in addition to everything else mentioned).
If Arguello does not disclose to the patient exactly what treatment/drugs and combo he is using, how on earth does he get informed consent from the patient?
I’d be wanting an itemised list of the drugs, what the side effects are, what the expected benefits are, if the use is off label and any authorities required for that use.. the list goes on.
I’m really concerned for the patients if he’s not got legal consent for the treatment.


I am inviting the public and the medical community to follow the case of a patient in Canada with multiple metastases in the lymph nodes, lungs, liver and spleen from a rapidly growing malignant melanoma which has failed to respond to conventional treatments.

The challenge consists of using my atavistic chemotherapy and immunotherapy to treat that patient, resulting in a complete clinical remission of that cancer in six months. He is now finishing his second month of treatment and the first results will be posted ~October 20, 2014.

This is my third patient with an advanced, stage IV melanoma, treated with atavistic chemotherapy and immunotherapy, and also described in detail in the gallery of clinical cases.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, killing an estimated 9,710 people in the US annually. Patients with visceral metastases, such as in the liver, and central nervous system involvement and/or elevated LDH levels have a median survival time of 3–4 months, whereas those with lung metastases have a median survival time of 8 months [Reference:

For details of this public challenge follow this URL:[email protected]

Thank you for your interest in this new and revolutionary form of understanding and treating cancer.

Frank Arguello, MD
Atavistic Oncology Clinic
Former Assistant Professor of Oncology,
and Pediatrics, Hematology and Oncology,
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.
Rochester, New York USA.
Former Senior Scientist,
Division of Cancer Treatment & Diagnosis,
National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health.
Frederick, Maryland USA.

I’m pretty sure that back in 1846 when Dr. Morton demonstrated his anesthesia (talk about an atavistic reference) he didn’t invite people to witness the procedure well after it had already started.

If the idea now is to do cancer therapy research by case study demonstration, wouldn’t it be better to have the patient’s diagnosis and medical history fully documented and get “observers” on board _before_ starting the treatment?

Every time I read one of Dr. Frank Arguello’s invitstions I can’t help thinking of the carnival barker in a red and white striped blazer calling out to the crowd: “step right up, see the amazing sideshow…”

It’s as if he considers his patients sideshow exhibits.

The challenge consists of using my atavistic chemotherapy and immunotherapy to treat that patient, resulting in a complete clinical remission of that cancer in six months.

I can only hope that publicly wagering on a patient outcome – and you plainly are, only with publicity – will spell the end of your license, Frank.

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