The Last Two Weeks or So In Conspiracy (31 Dec 2011)

December 31, 2011

Yeah, I’ve been out of contact recently, traveling the country, racking up foursquare points (why, I’m not sure), and learning the ways of the iPad. Things have settled back down, and I can take a little time to bring everyone up to speed on the wide, wide world of weird.

In the next few days, I’ll be heading out to Seattle to interview for a job in Mississippi (yeah, it’s easier if you just don’t think about it). I have seized upon the opportunity to make sure that I have a long layover at the Denver International Airport, which is where the bigwigs who are really in charge are going to wait out the end of the world. Or detain gun owners. Or transfer planes. Nobody is too sure about that. Anyway, I’m there. I’ve been trying to contact the artist whose murals have come under suspicion most goofy so that I could meet and interview him during my 4 hours at DIA, but given the weird attention his work has received, he’s hard to get in touch with, as you might imagine. (If anyone has any ideas…the email addy on his website is obsolete.)

Mike Adams, Health Stranger

davidfrum (@davidfrum)
12/26/11 1:08 PM
“CNN is run by Jews.” From the comments on my CNN.com Ron Paul column … bit.ly/soURcG

Well played, redneck. Well played. I’m willing to bet that you read Veterans Today, which was also horrible this week.

SEEDS?!?!?!?!?!

I enjoyed this book, because of some of the insider information that he brings out. I liked the insights into the invisible world, for example, how certain aliens are working with Satan the Devil, how Satan looks like a reptilian, including his hosts.

Conspiracy theories of the last few weeks:

“And, therefore planet Earth, as a female cosmic body with its newer, progressively greater level of 4th dimensional energy emanating from her – from Earth’s core – she is finally ready to be ‘fertilized’, and is attracting, pulling, drawing to her… the transformative cosmic 4th dimensional vibratory ‘male’ energy from the new crystal blue star (that was comet Holmes).”

Told you.

Dishonorable mention:

  • IntelHub gives exopolitics a run for its money, though, and this one blew me away with the goof. OK. Try to keep up. The Intel Hub, whose logo appropriately suggests something stinks over there, sez: “Chemtrail-like Substance Could Be Used in Blue Beam Type Operation.” Blue Beam is a continuation of the Philadelphia (boat teleportation) and Montauk (dead raccoons) Projects. Blue Beam is designed, according to this guy on the Internet, “to create a world-wide light show with accompanying electronically driven wave patterns.” Also, WTF does that even mean? Anyway, the pulse of energy is supposed to make people think that God is talking to them. Totally f-in’ superfluous, since people already think that God is talking to them! This is really an elaborate one that assumes earthquake-making, archaeological forgeries, telepathy, messiah-arriving, faked one-world religion, and staged UFO invasions. But this is the real problem: the IntelHub is setting itself up to believe this unfathomably vast pile of whale poop: “The Intel Hub has also received similar reports from various locations in the CONUS (Continental United States) and is requesting additional information/sightings to be sent to us (tips@theintelhub.com).” No matter how much contradictory information can be brought to bear on the questions raised by the Blue Beam video (like all of physics, meteorology, aerospace and electrical engineering, and psychology), they are completely and explicitly uninterested in that evidence. So, if, for instance, an airline pilot wrote in saying, “Hey, I need to take into account all the mass on my airplane to calculate how much fuel I have, including the ‘magic fairy chemtrail dust,’ so it’s impossible that I would be able to spray and not know about it. Now tell me I’m poisoning people to my face, suckafoo,” Intelhub will hear none of it. Here’s a tip: Grow. Up.

Week’s Best Headline:

Not strictly related to conspiracy theory in…any way I can think of, but this headline needs to be read aloud to orphans every Christmas: “Victoria’s Secret: Busted for Undies With an Ugly Past”.

Thanks for an excellent year, folks! We had over 100,000 hits, many of which were not my mother. We’ll see you on the other side of the New Year!

RJB


Skeptical Humanities on The Token Skeptic Podcast

December 31, 2011

Even and I were recently interviewed by Kylie Sturgess, whose work we admire immoderately. Her podcast is The Token Skeptic, and the episode in question is about the film Anonymous:

http://tokenskeptic.org/?powerpress_embed=1450-podcast&powerpress_player=default

We’ve worked with Kylie in the past. We were on a couple of panels together at this year’s Dragon*Con. She’s also the editor of the Young Australian Skeptics’ only recently published Skeptical Blog Anthology, and we have a piece in there. GO BUY IT NAOW! While it’s great that a lot of the big names are represented, they also give voice to a number of clever and insightful yet less well-known skeptics. An excellent snapshot of an important period in skeptical history, I think. Check it out!

RJB


End of the Year Psychic Predictions

December 21, 2011

Cross-posted at the Independent Investigations Group-Atlanta blog. Go visit us. We’re swell!

This afternoon I received a Google alert about a press release that had gone through the CBS Atlanta website. It did not originate there, but it’s unfortunate that it ended up on a news site all the same. It was a press release by psychic Blair Robertson, and it began:

Psychic Who Predicted Japan Earthquake Shares Insights

PHOENIX, Dec. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Can Blair Robertson see into the future? His successful forecasts of coming events seem to prove he can.

His past predictions include the Japanese 8.9 earthquake and tsunami, the two devastating New Zealand earthquakes, the terrible plane crash that claimed the life of Polish president Lech Kaczynski, World Cup events, accurately predicting the Oscars, and more.

Gosh, he must be pretty good, then, right? Saved thousands of people in Japan, right? Well, not so much.

I’m going to focus on Robertson’s claimed “prediction” of the Japanese earthquake/tsunami because if it’s true, it’s utterly amazing and important. If it’s false, then Robertson is capitalizing on the death and misery of thousands for cheap, imaginary bragging rights and should be treated as a heartless fraud.

The facts of the case

On 8 March, psychic Blair Robertson sent an envelope to Shawville Town Hall by commercial courier (which I image they pronounce interestingly in Quebec).

Early in the morning of 11 March 2011, I was waiting at my bus stop and scrolling through my twitter feed. Australia was having a collective gasp of horror over an earthquake in Japan. Reports and video were just coming in, and my tweeps were reacting to what they were seeing.

At 7:00 PM (see the image of the envelope here) on 11 March, the mayor of Shawville opened an envelope on stage and found what appeared to be a prediction of an earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Mind you, this is a prediction of something that has already happened, which should be a huge tip-off.

Basically, he switched envelopes. Indeed, skepdic uses this guy as a classic example of a “sealed envelope trick.” At let’s face it, if you are “predicting” things that have already happened, you aren’t making predictions.

It’s also telling that Robertson “predicted” the 8.9 earthquake, which is what the news had reported on the 11th, but the USGS eventually revised the earthquake to a 9.0 on the 14th. You’d have thought he would have gotten that. But of course he didn’t.

Blair also releases annual predictions on his website. Last year, Robertson released a list of what as going to happen in the year 2011. Let’s see how he did, eh wot?

“1. I predict avalanches in Italy, Austria and the western US, with multiple injuries in January.”

This prediction is pretty feeble because it is predicting the inevitable. He might as well be predicting mountains where there are mountains, avalanches are so common in some of the places he is suggesting (the Alps and…the whole Western US). According to the director of the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center, for example, between Dec 18, 2008- and Jan 25, 2009, 23 people died in avalanches in the US.

“2. Watch for train derailments in California and on East coast within 60 days.”

Another gimme. Between January and September of this year, according to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Safety Analysis, there were some 1,054 train derailments in the US. At that rate, it would be stunning if there weren’t multiple derailments in California or on the whole East Coast.

3. Air to air collision in Northeast.***

The asterisks point us to a collision that happened on the same day of the blog post. He says he predicted it on TV the night before. However, I would posit that there are constantly air to air collisions helicopters, planes, birds, balloons, or skydivers. This prediction is so vague that it could be anything. In this case, he says that a helicopter and plane collision fulfilled his prophecy. Any collision would have fit the bill, which is why we can’t take this as a serious prediction.

4. I foresee a hunting accident that claims a life in mid-west before the end of February.

Again, any specifics would help. This vague “somewhere in the midwest” thing is another sure bet. In 1997, there were 66 fatal hunting accidents in the US. That one of them would occur “in the midwest” in the first two months is no stretch.

5. Massive fires in New England blamed on arson will occur before July.

In the first half of 2011, 14.5% of arson was committed in New England, according to the FBI. We have no specifics by which to hazard a guess at which cases of inevitable arson he’s talking about. Another gimme that therefore can’t possibly be taken seriously as a hit.

6. Tragic accident during sporting event injures leading sports figure in 2011.

Don’t you have any names? Or relevant fields of achievement? This isn’t a prediction; it’s a statement that will always come true in a world with NASCAR.

7. I feel a bus accident that injures college students….. eastern US…. in three months.

OK, if there is a single bus accident (doesn’t say school bus, mind you, or that it is school related in any way) with college students on it–anywhere east of the Mississippi–he gets a hit. And when you take into consideration that according to researchers at the University Michigan there were an average of 318 buses involved in fatal incidents each year between 2004-2007, and that deaths include people killed in smaller cars (majority of fatalities) and non-motorists–and these are only the subset of fatal accidents!–this is another useless non-prediction. Merely a statistical inevitability.

8. Weird. A bank robber uses Santa outfit…..trips up and shoots elf (EDIT: that should be “self”)

How do I even begin to check this? And Santa is a “right jolly old elf,” dude, so BOTH are correct! :)

9. I predict that fuel surcharges will skyrocket for common goods and services.

Um. I don’t what this means. I mean, I understand every word, but…I’m not sure which surcharge he’s talking about. You can look at the consumer price index and the cost of living and see how fuel costs factor into the overall cost of remaining on this soggy rock, but I don’t see a testable claim stated here without more specifics.

10. Watch for Paul McCartney to marry again, this time with a prenuptial agreement!

He did get married in 2011. He had been dating the same woman for years. There was no prenuptial.

11. Apple will buy Facebook by year end.

WRONGY McWRONGENSTEIN!

We have 11 predictions, most of which are so vague as to be useless. The only times that Blair makes a specific prediction, he is completely and entirely wrong.

So, Great and Powerful one, what’s on deck for this year? Any real shockers?

  1. I predict that the Republicans will win the Presidential election.
  2. A horrifying premonition: spandex will make a comeback near the end of 2012.
  3. Volcanic activity in the Northwest will be big news and I feel there will be a very good chance of a large eruption.
  4. There will be a bombing on a cruise ship this year.
  5. I predict North Carolina will be slammed and heavily damaged by storms in April.
  6. I predict Jennifer Aniston will marry.
  7. Watch for major riots will occur in Miami and London in the spring.
  8. I predict a train crash in Southern Europe within the next 120 days that will be caused by sabotage.
  9. In spite of persistent rumors, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will remain together in 2012 and adopt another child.
  10. This year will see the passing of a much-loved and great comedienne/actress.
  11. I predict a major fire in a building/hotel in Hong Kong affecting hundreds this summer.
  12. A member of royalty will die in a car crash within 6 months.
  13. I predict a dam will burst, causing much damage, within the year.
  14. I predict a major oil spill in the North Atlantic within the first five months.
  15. Watch for an assassination attempt on an African leader in the next few weeks that will make headlines.
  16. I predict a ferryboat capsizing in the Philippines with more than 60 lost in February.
  17. Another US leading politician in a sex scandal. This time an easterner.
  18. I predict volcanic activity in Italy – affecting the Amalfi Coast this year.
  19. Watch for a series of fires this spring in California that will be arson.
  20. I predict we will hear of horrifying riots in South Africa during the summer.
  21. I predict that the Euro will drop below $1.25US before the end of May.
  22. Watch for a tsunami in the spring that will threaten the island kingdom of Tonga.
  23. News of a thwarted “terrorist” attack at the summer Olympics will have the world on edge.
    I predict a baby for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge this year.
  24. I predict that both Greece and Portugal will default this year.
  25. Middle East tensions will greatly escalate in the fall.

So we’ll see. A lot of these are worthless–which Republican? Fires? In California? Arson? Wouldn’t be the first time. But, hey, you got 0-for-11 last year, so why not throw out 25? Eventually, the laws of probability demand that you will get one right.

IIG-Atlanta has $50,000 for Blair if he is able to pass our test and demonstrate psychic ability under scientifically controlled circumstances. This is real money. I’d be happy to extend an offer to CBS Atlanta to film any test that Blair agreed to participate in. Check out our challenge application at the IIG-Atlanta website. If someone nominates Blair and he passes, that someone will receive a $5000 finder’s fee. So let him know.

RJB


The Week in Conspiracy (18 Dec 2011)

December 19, 2011

Not the most interesting week, but to be fair, I was mostly grading and was away from my usual sources (I really only had access to the NSA mainframe). Nonetheless, I did manage to scrounge together something like a list of conspiracies this week, because it is what I do.

So let’s do this.

  • Have you heard of Doorway Man? He’s like Umbrella Man only in a doorway and doesn’t have an umbrella. This, by the way, is the worst video analysis I have come across recently:

Just got arrested at Dulles TSA checkpoint for trying to go through in boxers. “disorderly conduct” — adamkokesh (@adamkokesh)

No conspiracy theory of the week this week, people. I’m looking forward to all of the Kim Jung Il ones next week, however! I’m outta here.

RJB


Mehmet Oz interviews Dr. Burzynski

December 19, 2011

Here’s an interview by Dr. Oz with Dr. Burzynski.

I’ll go out on a limb. Dr. Oz, you are a whore. A slutty, shameless medical whore. You’ll get into bed with anyone.

RJB


This Week in Conspiracy (11 December 2011)

December 12, 2011

I sit here a sparrowfart away from death, but not even my impending demise will stop me from bringing you another week in conspiracy.

While it is perfectly obvious to everyone that Ben Jonson wrote all of Shakespeare’s plays, it is less known that Ben Jonson’s plays were written by a teen-age girl in Sunderland, who mysteriously disappeared, leaving no trace of her existence, which is clear proof that she wrote them. The plays of Marlowe were actually written by a chambermaid named Marlene, who faked her own orgasm, and then her own death in a Deptford tavern brawl. Queen Elizabeth, who was obviously a man, conspired to have Shakespeare named as the author of his plays, because how could a man who had only a grammar-school education and spoke Latin and a little Greek possibly have written something as bad as “All’s Well That Ends Well”? It makes no sense. It was obviously an upper-class twit who wished to disguise his identity so that Vanessa Redgrave could get a job in her old age.

My fave Pak conspiracy theory was from a respected journo: “But who is behind the theory about Pakistanis loving conspiracy theories?” @jemima_khan

Conspiracy Theory of the Week:

This is not really a conspiracy theory of the week. It just needed to be sectioned off from the rest of the round-up. You see, Luke Rudkowski went to the dentist. He was a sexist, horrid, pig-ignorant prick at all points:

  • LukeRudkowski: dentist was dumb but she was cute and for some strange reason was rubbing her boobs in my face. awkward, did that ever happen to anyone Original Tweet: http://twitter.com/LukeRudkowski/status/144181007602561026
  • LukeRudkowski: the dentist tried to tell me that mercury is not bad for me, i told her to break a mercury thermometer and put it her month Original Tweet: http://twitter.com/LukeRudkowski/status/144178571911495681
  • Luke Rudkowski Been radiated 14 times by this 1970s looking Machine. Anyway i can avoid it twitpic.com/7pfjco2 minutes ago
  • mrthatguydude Dave @LukeRudkowski twitpic.com/7pf6t4 – 10x the mind control. 25 minutes ago Retweeted by LukeRudkowski
  • LukeRudkowski Starting to think the dential industry is apart of the nwo eugenics plan. Lol but seriously radiation mercury and fluoride wtf 22 minutes ago
  • LukeRudkowski Luke Rudkowski Not a good sight when your sitting in a dentists chair twitpic.com/7pf6t4 30 minutes ago

Yeah, I’m sure she wanted to get with the tinfoil wearing man-pig in her chair. LOL.

RJB


Conspiracy Theory Panel at Dragon*Con

December 7, 2011

Kylie and Bob. Richard Saunders is sitting on my shoulder whispering evil thoughts: "Try the marmite..."

Go over and visit Kylie Sturgess at The Token Skeptic. She posted my conspiracy theory panel at Dragon*Con 2011. It features Kylie, Ben Radford, my colleague Tom Lolis, and yours truly discussing all things conspiratorial. Of course, we all thank Mark Ditsler for his work recording and producing the audio and Derek Colanduno for, you know, just the whole Skeptic Track.

RJB


More patients whose deaths Burzynski has presided over…

December 5, 2011

It’s not over, people. A few days ago, I started posting the stories of patients who had been to see Stanislaw Burzynski and appeared in the news. In the previous post, almost all of them, with a single exception, a girl whose cancer had already been in remission twice (odd, I’m given to understand), died. Orac has recently looked at three cases that have been presented as evidence of Burzynski’s treatment, and he raises some profound, disturbing questions. I omit these cases.

As I suspected, there have been many more. They seem to appear in the news when some family makes a desperate appeal for money to go to  Burzynski’s clinic for his unproven treatments:

  • On December 1, 2011, the UK’s Watford Observer reports that a 4-year old girl from Oxley Hall is fighting an “ependymoma brain tumour”:

“But at The Burzynski Clinic in Houston, Texas, a pioneering treatment could prove the answer to [the family's] prayers. The family had to raise £20,000 for preliminary tests, which established that [the girl] is suitable for treatment, and further cash for ongoing medication.” [emphasis added].

The same paper reported on 18 July that the family successfully raised £100,000 for the treatment.

  • In Australia, the Ballarat Courier reported on 29 Nov of this year that a group is raising money for Braydon Stefan’s trip to the Burzynski clinic by auctioning off tradesmen’s services. They have already raised $60,000, for a Dr. Charles Teo (could an Aussie look into this guy?) who thought that Burzynski might be a good match for Braydon, at least according to the Courier on the 23rd. [Update: I'm distressed to report that Braydon died in June of 2012]
  • On 23 November 2011, the Cambridge Evening News reported that the family of Supatra Adler, a 6-year old diagnosed with a “Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma brain stem tumour.” They spent 3 weeks at the Houston clinic, and they had doubts:

“We started doubting ourselves with this course of action as it required using up all our savings and travelling to Houston, Texas, for an extended period of time. You see the money is not really the issue other than we were worried it was a scam like so many other alternative treatments out there and if we expended all our savings on this treatment and it was a scam then we would have nothing left should a legitimate treatment come available. During this period it was a constant high and low moment for us as we flip-flopped on whether or not we should go. In the end we both agreed that since the mainstream medical community was offering us no hope for Supatra that we should try everything and anything.” But in the end the cost was immense: “She added the treatment had almost exhausted their savings, costing more than £89,000 so far with yearly costs of up to £63,000.” [Update: 8/10/12: I am very sorry to report that Supatra died in June of this year.]

  • On 29 June 2011 of this year, the Las Vegas Journal-Review reported that teenager Kassidy Merritt was going to see Burzynski for treatment of a brain stem ganglioglioma. Her father said that it was costing them $30,000 to start treatment, that the Ronald McDonald House would not put them up in Houston because of Burzynski, and that their doctors called Burzynski a quack. I’m happy to report that she’s still fighting, though I don’t know what her status is as far as the Burzynski clinic is concerned. We’re certainly pulling for her!
  • On 17 February 2011, the Contra Costa Times reported that a fundraiser was being held for 4-year old Noah Stout, who had an inoperable brain tumor. Burzynski’s treatment was at the time projected to cost $135,000, toward which mensch Carlos Santanta donated a guitar for auction. He is still fighting too, and that’s a damn cute kid!
  •  On 27 January 2011, the Grand Haven Tribune reported that Christine Tooker was raising money for treatment. I have only seen her appear in one other article, in October about end-of-life care, and she sounds extremely practical about what is happening to her. I wish her the best.
  • Randy Goss, whose story I encountered while looking through the “cancer cures” section of Yahoo’s message boards, according to the person who posted: “[Goss'] treatment was with Dr. Burzynski’s antineoplastons for kidney cancer [...] After being cancer free the malignancy returned in 2000 and he was successfully treated again by Dr. Burzynski” At the time of the post, Mr. Goss was seeking additional media coverage of his cure. By his own account, he was feeling better and gaining weight after his return from Burzynski’s clinic in 2000, and he gave his contact information in Dunkirk, New York information in a post, seeking to spread the message of his cure. He died in 2001 of cancer.
  • On 14 December 2009, the Patriot-Ledger reported on Natalie Hull who was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. It’s not certain that she ever saw Burzynski, however. The family was praying at the time that she would be accepted at his clinic, and they had reached financial ruin (had they applied with the standard gigantic fee that Burzynski apparently require?), but the paper reported that Natialie had died a few days later.
  • On July 30, 2009, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that the parents of Maryn Cella were optimistic about raising $100,000 to get their daughter treatment. There was a $20,000 down payment. Maryn succumbed to her cancer. The blog that her mother set up recording the experiences is an instructive, genuinely affecting read about the roller-coaster that treatment can be. I will leave it to others to examine the family’s experience with Burzynski.
  • On 11 May 2008, the East Valley Tribune reported that 2-1/2 year old Briannah Olsen had undergone treatment at the Burzynski clinic. Again we see a story of a shrinking tumor, but which ends with tragedy.
  • On 3 April 2008, The Spokesman Review reported that Greg Hiatt was seeing Burzynski for treatment. “

“Greg is doing really well,” his wife said with conviction. “He hasn’t needed to have his chest drained since he began treatment and hasn’t had any side effects.” She credits the positive attitude of those at the Burzynski Clinic and their faith in God for the fact her husband is still functioning when he was given such a negative prognosis. “Our faith has kept us strong,” she said. In the meantime, Hiatt’s medical costs are adding up – his medications alone total more than $35,000 each month. The family believes in the course they have chosen, but know their medical insurance won’t stretch to cover many of the expenses they are facing.”

I can find no outcome, and hope that Greg is well.
  • On 18 August 2006, the Lowell Sun reported that 6-year old Justin Bissett had been enrolled with the Burzynski Institute, but it was not without significant expenses, for which his community kicked in:
“The Bissett family has found some hope in a clinical trial for an experimental molecular treatment that Justin has been enrolled in at the Houston-based Burzynski Research Institute.

Bissett said there has been a marked improvement in Justin since. But the treatment, as well as Justin’s medications and specialized nutritionist, constitute a significant financial burden on the family, Bissett said. The latest in a series of fundraisers to help offset the medical costs will be held tomorrow in Tewksbury, courtesy of a group of Bissett family members and friends.”

Justin has since died.
  • Lisa Johnson of Plymoth told the Star-Tribune on 15 May 2006 that: “[W]hen a doctor at the Mayo Clinic says there is no cure, why would I question that? But I take all of these recent occurrences as sign that God is saying, `Lisa, you’re going to be OK. Hold on to hope.’ And I feel this treatment with Dr. Burzynski is my only hope.” She died in 2008.
  • The Chicago Daily Herald reported on 6 July 2005 that Mateo Casimiro Rotger was undergoing the Burzynski treatment through the clinic: “Today, Mateo is part of a Federal Drug Administration study at the Burzynski Clinic in Houston, Tex., which specializes in cancer treatment. Though it is costly – Rotger estimates $8,000 per month for medical costs and equipment – members of St. Isidore Church in Bloomingdale are offering their grown-up piggy banks. The church has set up a fund to help offset Mateo’s medical costs, many of which are not covered by insurance.” Mateo passed away in September. The memorial website says of Burzynski’s treatments: “We hope that this is the treatment that will answer our prayers. However, as with all things worthwhile, there comes a price and a rather expensive one. The cost of the doctors’ fees, treatments and medicine comes to about $150,000 for only one year’s worth of treatment. “
  • On September 22, 2004, the State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL) reported that a benefit dinner for Kathy Robertson was being held to “help defray the cost of experimental cancer treatment for Robertson at the Burzynski Clinic in Houston.” I am unable to find her outcome online, and hope it turned out well.
  • An announcement in the 14 Aug 2004 Arkon Beacon Journal announced the following golf benefit:

Organizers of the “J.E.M. Golf Outing” — scheduled for Aug. 29 at Raccoon Hills Golf Club in Kent — are offering up lots of prayers for a rain-free day, but, more importantly, for remission for the three people designated as beneficiaries of the outing:

+ Eunice Huffman-Nichols, a 41-year-old Streetsboro mother of two who was diagnosed with a brain tumor seven years ago. (Eunice died in July of 2005.) [Update 9/29/13: I received a message from Eunice's brother, who asked I relay the following information: "My sister Eunice, did raise funds for the treatment. She had a 64% reduction of her tumor after 6 months on the ANP treatment, continued for a few more months on the treatment until there was not growth or reduction for a number of months. She was able to walk again, regain her vision and even started driving again! Ended the treatment and stayed stable until her death. She was off the treatment completely for 4+ months with no changes in the tumor at all and then had an emergency situation unrelated to the tumor and passed away while in the ER."]

+ Mary Vukich, an 11-year-old from Orwell in Ashtabula County with strong ties to the Akron-area community. She was diagnosed at the Cleveland Clinic in October 1999 with six inoperable brain tumors. (I believe that Mary is alive and a member of the Burzynski Patient Group.)

Like the other two, Mary received alternative medical treatment (not covered by insurance) at the Burzynski Clinic in Houston. Cost to golf is $100 per player or $400 per foursome.

  • On 10 January 2004, Deseret Morning News reported a fundraiser for Megan Thompson. The projected goal was $180,000. I found no outcome on the web.
  • Evan Shaw reported a cure in the 22 July 2003 Calgary Herald. It cost $190,000. I can find no follow up and hope for the best. Searching for corroboration of this story, I came across the story of Albert Loranger who was looking to raise $11,000 a month. I can find no outcome.
  • On 27 April 2003 the Sunday News reported that Linda Biemiller was raising money to visit the Burzynski Clinic:
“In January of this year the couple traveled to Burzynski Clinic in Houston, Texas, to meet with Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, a physician who treats patients with brain tumors using antineoplaston therapy.

“We spent two weeks at the clinic receiving training on how to administer the treatment,” said John. He explained that a portable pump administers two different medicines every four hours for almost two hours, 24 hours a day. The initial treatment and trip to Houston cost more than $25,000, with ongoing costs of $7,200 a month for an average of six to eight months. If the outcome is good, Linda would be put on a pill form of the treatment at a cost of $2,000 a month.”

Linda died in June 2005.

It’s hard to say what happened in many of these cases. The recent ones are still unfolding, of course. The older ones, well, they stop asking for money. You can’t read much into that. A few of the people reported that they were getting better or that the tumor had stopped growing, only to die shortly thereafter.  (I am starting to feel that when Burzynski reports that the tumor is shrinking, one should get a second opinion.)
Cures are few and far between, and you can’t use them to establish causality, especially as Burzynski has treated patients with mixed modalities. If more of these patients had lived, however, I suspect that Burzynski would use their testimony at every possible opportunity, since he does not have the clinical trials that, after 30 years of “tests”, would show that his therapy works. His public record is a body count, and the FDA needs to step in and stop this horrible, ongoing pillaging of grief.
RJB
Please donate to St. Jude’s, who don’t turn people away, even if they can’t pay. Unlike Burzynski, who was once found guilty of fraud.

This Week in Conspiracy (4 December 2011)

December 4, 2011

Howdy. We may be blasting Burzynski mercilessly, but we’re still constantly collecting stories for the week in conspiracy. If you come across any good ones, please let me know!

Conspiracy Theories of the Week

“Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities, relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States or any other person who is captured or arrested in the United States.”

That’s all you’re going to get out of me this week. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some important Mystery Science Theater 3000s to watch.

RJB


The Observer still doesn’t understand Burzynski

December 3, 2011

The Observer, the epicenter of l’affaire Burzynski, has responded to the deluge of criticism from the medical, scientific and skeptical communities about its coverage of the cancer quack, Stanislaw Burzynski, who continues to pump unproven urine-derived treatments into terminal cancer patients and charges them insane fees up front for the privilege. Entire communities throw untold sums of money at the slimmest (nonexistent, really) hope that these patients will recover at the Burzynski Clinic, and the Observer finds this uplifting.

Horse shit. And shame on The Observer.

The reader’s editor column today, which I believe is essentially an ombudsman’s column, does nothing to serve the readers who might damn well end up in the clutches of the monster from Texas. The title of the article is simply beyond the pale:

The readers’ editor on… kind hearts and a cruel illness: Is it so surprising where desperate parents will turn in the search for a cure for their terminally ill child?

No. Not at all. They are vulnerable and desperate, which is why it is our collective responsibility to protect them. What is surprising is that your editor is unwilling to say, “Boy, we really messed up by giving someone a platform to promote what will inevitably be massive fraud of the most callous and depraved kind.” But look how the Observer continues to frame the issue:

Yet what was intended as a gripping, human-interest story quickly drew a sustained attack on the paper for apparently offering unquestioning support for a highly controversial cancer treatment, known at antineoplaston therapy.

First off, it’s not controversial therapy at all. It’s a failed therapy. 30+ years and no credible science to back it up? FAILED.

The Observer, unbelievably, is trying to twist this story into some sort of attack on the family of Billie Bainbridge, the little girl whose sickness prompted the original article. They actually close the article with the line: “But some participants in the debate have combined aggression, sanctimony and a disregard for the facts in a way which has predictably caused much distress to the Bainbridge family.”

They point out that the Rhys Morgan, a 17-year old who was actually threatened by the Burzynski’s hired toughs (they actually sent him a google map image of the kid’s house, which translates into, “We know where you live”), did not talk to the Bainbridges before he asserted that they “looked on the Internet.” (The Observer fails to demonstrate that this was factually incorrect. Just saying.)

So what? That is the least important part of Rhys’s original post. The fact remains that a 30-year fraud is claiming another little victim. Who gives a tiny nutty crap about how the parents heard about the scam artist?

Hey, do you want to see some bad writing? Notice how the paper goes from indignation that the Internet somehow failed to…recognize that Billie’s family was looking at anecdotal evidence(?), to a defense of the paper:

“Billie’s parents know it is unproven, but there are other families in this country who were told by their hospital that their condition was terminal and nothing could be done for them, but were then treated at the clinic and survived. Knowing this, Billie’s parents felt they couldn’t sit back and do nothing if there was a small chance this treatment would save her life.”

And this is the point that is being lost in the vitriol that is flying around the internet. Undoubtedly, the Observer was wrong not to have included criticism of the treatment. A simple check with Cancer Research UK would have revealed the depth of concern about it and, no question, that concern should have been in the article, but because it was absent doesn’t mean that the paper was promoting the treatment, as some have suggested (“pimping” it, as one science writer so crudely tweeted).

Uncritically giving a cancer quack uncritical press? How could we possibly have mistaken that for promotion? We should have just called it as it was: a shoddy, pathetic, and irresponsible attempt at journalism.

The Internet apologizes for not making this clearer.

Now do you f*cking job and protect Billie, her family, and your readers from this immense fraud.

RJB

Please consider donating to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. They turn nobody away, even if they can’t pay. Unlike Burzynski.


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