The 4th Quadrennial Meeting of the World Federation of Neuro-Oncology is meeting right now in San Francisco, and guess who is presenting there? There are four papers being presented by those criminal frauds of the Burzynski Clinic.
They sure can talk the science talk, can’t they? And they go through all the motions of attending and presenting at meetings of the Society for Neuro-Oncology, which I’m sure looks formidable to the rubes, but when you look at the results of recent reviews of their facilities and protocols (or read the summary in USA Today), they don’t walk the science walk. Read about the patients, or the story of the Burzynski scam. For over thirty years, he has been skating at the edge of credibility by carrying out the rituals of science without going the next step and actually testing his claims, getting rich off desperate people and killing them with bad therapies and sloppy protocols.
I know what these meetings are like. They will be full of professionals in nice dresses and conservative ties, and they will be talking shop and taking notes on the interesting presentations, and I know exactly how they will respond to Burzynskiites: they are beneath them, they will roll their eyes as they skip their talks, and they might grumble a bit at the bar afterwards. And that’s about it. I’ve seen it when creationists get their work into poster sessions at non-peer-reviewed science meetings.
But these guys are worse than creationists. These are con artists giving false hope to dangerously ill patients, using organizations like the SNO as a façade to bilk people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and skirting on the proper protocols to give the illusion that they’re doing legitimate science.
It is a huge ethical problem for these societies to provide cover for quacks. I would hope that, at the very least, attendees take time to read the facts about Burzynski and give these con artists a hard time in public; but more significantly, I think the only appropriate thing for the Society for Neuro-Oncology to do is to kick the bastards out. Don’t let them take shelter under your wing any more.