I just have to say this: I hate responding to mail that alludes to massive conspiracies, possibly more than any other kind of mail. When Lynnea and I talked to Guy P. Harrison recently, he explained a very interesting perspective on the difference between conspiracy theories and other popular but wrong beliefs. Someone who believes in miscellaneous magical stuff like ghosts and young earth creationism is likely to be coming from a place of thinking too little. Someone who believes conspiracy theories more likely thinks far too much: they invent patterns and create connections where none exist. They also spend an enormous time chasing these ideas down a huge rabbit hole of confirmation bias, and generate way, way more spurious content than I can reasonably deal with as a newcomer to their ideas.
Therefore, you can probably imagine my trepidation when we received this email from “Clark Kent” (I’m assuming it’s a pseudonym).
This a response to the Feb 19 podcast. Rough quote “If someone had a cure for cancer why not come fourth and claim your million dollars..”. Instead of being negative perhaps you can review that podcast with this injection of evidence.
The evidence was presented in the form of a YouTube link, titled “Cancer Cured In Canada, But Big Pharma Says NO WAY!”
CRITICAL WARNING: I’m only posting said link after issuing a stern warning that this does not, in any way, shape or form, constitute endorsement of its content.
Okay, here it is.
Here’s my reply:
This is the first time I’m hearing about DCA, and I hope you will forgive me for some amount of skepticism. To me, the video plays very much like a slick internet marketing pitch, and the typical conspiracy language doesn’t really help much.
I tried looking up DCA online, and one of the first things to catch my attention was an extremely lengthy and detailed Wikipedia article… which on closer examination reads like this:
DCA has been effectively used for treating cancer. Cancer cells change the way cells metabolize oxygen in a way that promotes cancer cells’ survival. In laboratory studies of isolated cancer cells grown in tissue culture, DCA restores the original metabolism, and promotes their self-destruction. This has led to the use of DCA for treating cancer, by individuals experimenting with it themselves, by doctors administering it to patients as a non-approved drug, by scientists testing it in cancer tissue cultures in cell culture and in mice, and in human Phase II studies. DCA has improved certain biochemical parameters, but it has not demonstrated improved survival.
The rest of the article is filled with a fascinating amount of techno-babble, yet terribly few corroborating results published in mainstream medical journals. Upon reading through the comments, I discover that there have been a few attempts to introduce material that is skeptical of the articles claims, but they have been aggressively stamped out as non-notable, while several attempts have been made to introduce stuff like testimonial support — EXACTLY what quack medicine loves in place of rigorous clinical trials.
So I’ve been browsing through some various skeptical articles and links found here, here, and here. I have to tell you: it sounds very much to me like some preliminary research was done, some medical journalists exaggerated the significance, alt medicine groups picked it up as a new cause célèbre… and now here you are.
I am not a medical professional and, I suspect, neither are you. This is exactly why I have a need to rely on finding out what mainstream, peer reviewed literature among professionals with relevant credentials have to say on a subject. From what I’m seeing, such journals are not supporting your conclusion that this is a miracle cancer drug, but rather an interesting result that has been rejected as a drug because not nearly enough study has been done to establish its real benefits, side effects, and potential dangers.
Unfortunately, past experience tells me that, as likely as not, someone like you who sends an initial short video link is probably heavily invested in promoting your claims. As such, I am already gritting my teeth in expectation that your next message will bury me under an avalanche of additional videos and dubious links — which, again, I have neither the time or the inclination to chase down. I imagine you will dismiss medical journals as a tool of a well financed conspiracy to keep people sick and ignorant. If such is the case, all I can say is that you and I have very different concepts of how science works.