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.
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:
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.
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).
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
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.