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Cancer Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

Sadly, I’m not sure this really is a joke

The Onion or real life recommendations by cancer quacks? You be the judge.


Courageous Man Refuses To Believe He Has Cancer

Sometimes The Onion cuts a little too deeply, but this is not too far from “Secret” territory. Unfortunately for wishful thinking, reality doesn’t care what you believe and has a way of asserting itself no matter how hard you wish.

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]

29 replies on “Sadly, I’m not sure this really is a joke”

It’s so hard to parody “alternative” medicine because “alternative” medicine is already so “over-the-top” crazy. This spoof by The Onion is actually too close to what we’ve seen from celebrity woo-mongers to be funny.

Maybe if they’d done “Courageous Man Refuses to Believe He is Dead”, that would have been extreme enough to be different from what we see every day.

After all, how many of the late (unlamented) “Dr.” Hulda Clark’s “patients” (victims) were doing exactly what we see on this video? And how many people have we heard say the same thing about AIDS, diabetes, and even bacterial infections? And – sadly – how many times have we seen an all-too-credulous media (especially the infotainment programs, like “Oprah”) play up these “courageous” (some might say “delusional”) stories?

Normally, I find The Onion funny, if occasionally a bit uncomfortable. This time, it’s just sad.

Prometheus

No doubt the “dead” man would be using facilitated communication to “talk” to the interviewers, though in a courageous manner.

I think a cancer quack would take more care to choose a mark that looks at least a little healthier – I don’t think that it would be good publicity for them to have the patient fainting with a tricle of blood from his nose on stage.

I mean there must be a damned limit to self delusion.

But then again cancer quacks are rarely blamed by the patient’s family even after they die in horrible and avoidable pain.

Sigh.

I thought the idea of a really sickly guy like that going around saying that you don’t have to listen to the doctors to be a brilliant way of getting scared individuals to agree with the recommendations from the doctor.

After all, if the people advocating improper treatments for various cancers are going to cherry-pick the kinds of people that they put forward as having taken them, why not do the same?

People who eat an onion a day have been shown to reduce their risk of cancer by 50% in studies published in scientific peer reviewed journals.
Given that the biggest cancer quacks are oncologists you need to be careful in your sarcasm. There have been no studies which show that surgery contributes to improved survival (they have just assumed it does for a hundred years). Chemotherapy contributes only just over 2% to the five year survival rate and any contribution from radiotherapy can just as easily be explained by other scientific rationales.
Perhaps it is time to look at your own self delusion.
Unfortunately many just parrot anti-alternative therapy rhetoric without looking at the evidence. Properly prescribed and administered drugs in hospital are the third largest cause of death in the US and by the time you add in medical error, patient error, hospital contracted infections and other medical misadventure modern medicine just might be the highest cause of death in the western world.

I’m not easily offended Harriet, but my wife had a kidney cancer tumor the size of a bratwurst, and a thrombus from her kidney up her vena cava to her heart removed by surgery 6 years ago. It’s a bit hard to believe that removal of something that was a month or so from killing her didn’t help her survive these last few years.

If you were being ironic, I’m sorry. I’m a bit sense-of-humor impaired right now.

Looks like we have a live one @#5 — especially considering where she’s spouting off. Should be a hoot.

Of course, all of the studies and case survival stats WRT e.g. paediatric non-Hodgkins lymphoma? Ignore them.

I’m so proud of you Harriet, you don’t let any little things like facts, logic or evidence get in the way of your own confirmation people like you!
Oh BTW – couldn’t find those peer reviewed journals stating that eating an onion a day reduces cancer risk by 50%. Will you please cite them?
Oh, you just made that up. Okay… whatever…

All he needs to do is take a bit of Vitamin C and his problems will go away. Of course his doctor won’t tell him this due to the big-pharma conspiracy.

The website that Harriet’s name is linked to is real. She probably believes all that stuff. Has she figured out that Orac is a surgical oncologist yet?

Looking at her website I noticed it had exactly one cherry picked paper. Harriet, you will be challenged here to come up with some real evidence for your claims.

I have a favorite quote from the home page of Harriet’s site:

“Remember that the person who got cancer, became ill because of who they were and what they were doing.”

So, to summarize; If you have cancer it is your own damn fault. Yes, I would definitely not be offended by that if I were a cancer patient.

And, surprise, surprise; She is selling a book! Didn’t see that coming. But I am sure she is doing this out of the goodness of her heart (end dripping sarcasm).

I found Harriet’s personal website, and her cancer posts. It seems she is an assistant professor at the University of Western Australia, where she is a research coordinator for the Rural Clinical School.

I expect she is will be able to answer all her claims with a good body of real research, and absolutely no cherry picking.

I wonder if the Australian Skeptics know about her.

People who eat an onion a day have been shown to reduce their risk of cancer by 50% in studies published in scientific peer reviewed journals.

Do tell…and reference.

uh right. it’s all your fault that you have the BRCA-1 gene alteration that is connected to an increased incidence in breast cancer. . . got it. and if you have a family history of heart disease, that’s your fault too.
Oh, and People who step on a fissure in the sidewalk cause their mother to incur spinal injury.

On a related note, a comment on Science-Based Medicine gave this as the web site for Barbara Loe Fisher’s attorney’s.

http://www.emord.com/default.htm

I noticed Ms Fisher’s libel suit was not in their “recent” news, but they did “brag” about sueing the FDA for the “right” under the First Amendment to claim that Vitamins C and E “reduce” the risk of lung, gastric and colon or bladder cancer.

Judging by the choices in their news list, sueing over nutritional claims seems to be their stock in trade.

Remember when you couldn’t get white onions, because of the war? All you could get was those big yellow ones that cost a nickel, and In those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on them…..oh, sorry, what were you saying Harriet?

Onion? Why does it have to be an onion? How about a parfait. Parfaits have layers, and everybody loves a parfait!

(Donkey on Shrek as best as I can remember it)

“Maybe if they’d done “Courageous Man Refuses to Believe He is Dead”, that would have been extreme enough to be different from what we see every day.”
I understand Poe did a story about hypnotism on these lines “Strange Case of M. Valdemar” I think. And I’ve read a Fritz Leiber story that was made into a Night Gallery episode, about a man who becomes psychosomatically dead.
This sketch is a lot like a Christian science joke I’ve heard. Punchline: “He thinks he’s dead.”

“I have a favorite quote from the home page of Harriet’s site”

Well, it’s not the landing page, but I like this one:

“Please note that this site is for educational purposes only. It does not purport to be the practice of medicine in any way. If you are ill, or have a diagnosis of cancer you are recommended to seek appropriate care, diagnosis and treatment from a qualified and licensed professional. This site does not accept responsibility for how material on the site is used.”

There is already a type of “Courageous Man Refuses to Believe He is Dead” video. Except it was written as a 30-minute tv show as a fiction for a light-hearted version of a Twilight Zone clone. Story basically is grandpa, a stubborn old cuss, dies. Next morning though he shows up for breakfast, stubborn as ever, refusing to believe he is dead. As his body rots away and his limbs stiffen (“a little stiffness is expected when you’re my age”), his family seeks help in convincing him he is dead.

The solution is to put a lot of pepper into his soup. Grandpa sneezes into his handkerchief, looks into the hankie, sighs and says “well, there’s no fool like an old fool. I’ll be off now”. Goes upstairs and admits he is dead and ‘dies’. They don’t show his face during this, but the closing shot is the camera zooming in on his hankie and there is Grandpa’s nose lying in the middle of it.

“Please note that this site is for educational purposes only. It does not purport to be the practice of medicine in any way. If you are ill, or have a diagnosis of cancer you are recommended to seek appropriate care, diagnosis and treatment from a qualified and licensed professional. This site does not accept responsibility for how material on the site is used.”

Nothing says they know they are lying like a quack Miranda warning.

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