Reno Skeptics
Promoting Science, Reason & Skepticism
Reno Skeptical Society, Inc. – Reno, Nevada, USA

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Welcome to the official website of the Reno Skeptical Society, Inc!

Action for Consumer Protection

In August 2014, the non-profit Reno Skeptical Society, Inc. began collaborating with The Skeptics for the Protection of Cancer Patients (SPCP), Center For Inquiry (CFI) and other groups and individuals on issues involving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These issues are centered around the Burzynski Cancer Clinic in Houston, Texas.

Those who follow the modern skeptical community are all too familiar with Stanislaw Burzynski, his clinic, the reputation for gross violations of FDA rules and protocols for patient safety and clinical trials, and the selling of false hope to vulnerable, desperate people. For those who are not, here are links to several related articles by skeptical activists David H. Gorski, MD, PhD and Robert J. Blaskiewicz, PhD respectively, as published in Skeptical Inquirer Magazine:

Despite dismal site inspections and multiple documented violations, the FDA recently not only authorized the clinic to resume clinical trials, but also authorized the clinic to progress to Phase III trials (large groups) without demonstrating efficacy of the treatments as required during Phase II. This week, following the resumption of the clinical trials, yet another suffering Burzynski patient was buried after receiving the expensive and ineffectual treatments.

While there is much more to this story than space here allows (e.g. Texas Medical Board charges, licensing issues, legal maneuvering, court actions to dismiss, deaths attributed to treatments), the initial goal of our efforts is to prompt an investigation and congressional hearing to determine why the FDA has allowed the Burzynski Clinic to remain in operation, reauthorized clinical trials, authorized the clinic to conduct Phase III trials and their refusal to adequately respond to questions related to Burzynski.

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill’s office has taken an acute interest in this matter, as have other lawmakers we have contacted. You may remember that Senator McCaskill chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance. This is the same subcommittee that recently took Dr. Mehmet Oz to task for promoting unproven miracle weight loss programs and products (peddling false hope).


What is Skepticism?

Skepticism, in the modern sense, has been described or defined in many ways – all attempting to capture the essence of what is now known as the “Skeptical Movement”. 

We offer one definition that is simple, but very appropriate:

“A perspective that does not accept or reject at face value, but withholds judgment until sufficient evidence is available to make a decision”   (Dr. Eugenie C. Scott).

Modern skepticism is embodied in the scientific method, which involves gathering data to formulate and test naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena. A claim becomes factual when it is confirmed to such an extent it would be reasonable to offer temporary agreement. But all facts in science are provisional and subject to challenge and change, and therefore skepticism is a method leading to provisional conclusions.

Skepticism is a method, not a belief.

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