On this week’s episode of the Virtual Skeptics, I replied to what was learned at the premiere of the new Burzynski movie. The text of my segment follows the episode.
This week, the new Burzynski movie premiered in San Luis Obispo, California. We largely knew what was going to be in the movie since a couple of trailers had been released, the patients who appeared had talked about the filming, and there was a sort of credulous review had appeared a few days ahead of time and I believe the director may have mentioned it on a PBS fundraising specual a few days earlier. So we had a pretty good idea of what our proxies should be looking for. We really wanted to see if certain people who had been filmed, like Amelia Saunders or Hannah Bradley appeared and especially what was said about them. We wanted lists of people who appeared, to see if we might be able to put together who said what. Most of these people’s stories are well known, and we doubted there would be anything new. Also our people took down key quotes that struck them as important, like “skeptics are hiding behind their BS free speech.”
This is my takeaway, after talking to the people who I know were there. We are wiggly little scumbags who are hateful and slimy. We ridicule the desperate and dying. Some of us are paid by big pharma. Others are deluded and think that we are doing good but are being misled. But make no mistake–and this was hammered home to me by everyone I talked to–we are to them pure evil.
One of my big concerns going into the movie was how I was going to be portrayed and whether or not I was going to receive death threats. That my family was going to receive death threats or that I was going to be harassed at work. I feared this because of a letter that, as you know, was sent to my employer promising that I would be featuring prominently in the Burzynski movie. Nobody asked me for my opinion or to give a statement or to respond or clarify; they went straight to my boss. Fine. I’ve had wacky people contact my employers in the past. I fully expect it to happen in the future. Clips of this show, episode 13, were included in the movie. This is the episode that was quoted in the letter on my university chancellor.
As it turned out, our faces were blurred, our names obscured, and our voices were altered. No real identifying information. Which, you know, I’m OK with. However, there are some problems here. 1) What was served by contacting my employer other than to scare me? How dare the filmmakers say that we’re terrorizing people when they are doing just that. 2) Someone asked me about a quote, “we’re coming for you, you little polish sausage you.” The thing is, the quote is patently absurd if my name is shown, something that everyone here jumped on, like I hoped you would during the original episode. That joking was not conveyed to the skeptics in the theater audience. This might be due to the fact that not only were we given scary voices but also that apparently every time we appeared scary music played in the background.
It’s clear that the reason I’m in the movie in the capacity I am, as chief bad guy, is because I’m on video talking about the Burzynski Clinic. And this leads me to another thing that Brian mentioned. That when we kind of appeared on the screen, they put up a title card type thing that said, “skeptical teleconference” or something like that, and that a woman at the end of the show, wanted to know, “How did you get this footage of these scheming skeptics?” Um….we publicize our show constantly? If you can’t have real clandestine drama, you might as well make it up. My favorite bit was a tweet that I got around this time where a new account who followed like 10 people I do said, “It’s really interesting when you talk about Burzynski on the show. Could you do that more?” Really, Eric? Do you think I’m two years old?
I am interested in ultimately seeing it. I’m asking that the producer send a review copy to the James Randi Educational Foundation so a proper review can be done.
Or you could screen it in Minneapolis. Next week works for me, Eric, if you’re free.
Another thing. News broke on the 7th of January in skeptical circles that the FDA was conducting an audit of the clinic. A patient in the movie apparently said that she had been receiving a brain scan when she heard that the Clinic was being investigated again. This means that material was added to the movie after the 7th of January. The Burzynski Birthday Fundraiser was announced by PZ Myers on the 6th. So there was more than enough time for the filmmaker to clarify exactly what was meant in that episode when I said that there was going to be a little present on his birthday. Skeptics evilly, and with malice aforethought, raised $14.5K dollars for St. Jude’s. We then challenged the Clinic to match us, and it didn’t. That the director did not mention this fact seems to me inexcusable, making us look like we are big meanos who hate babies and morality. This demonization is unfair and at the expense of the truth–if you ever read theotherburzynskipatientgroup blog you know whose side I’m on. If he used the video clip of us that he cited in his letter to my employer, about us bringing a “present” to Burzynski and knowing what it actually was without clarifying it, well, that just speaks to his regard for completeness and accuracy. No messiah should need such fudging. It suggests to me that he’s forcing evidence into a pre-existing narrative of persecution.
PZ Myer’s announcement of the Houston Cancer Quack
The Virtual Skeptics episode that appears in the movie: