So the Washington Times is disseminating quackery — nothing new about that, I guess. But this is pretty awful stuff.
You have to suffer to find out what she is talking about: this link takes you to a canned presentation. You’ve seen these before, I presume. They use a custom video player with all the controls stripped out, so once it gets started, you have to go through the whole thing, and you can’t skip ahead. And it goes on and on, hammering away at how evil modern medicine is and how it will kill you and stirring up fear and anger before it gets to the point: they have a cure for cancer, but Obama and the medical establishment are hiding it from you, and you can buy it from them. Wheee. So predictable.
Their miracle cure is a fermented wheat germ extract, marketed as a dietary supplement. It’s called H-86 or Avemar. Contrary to their claims that Obama and the FDA are trying to silence its existence because they want you to die a horrible painful death, it’s an object of active research. I’ve seen one clinical trial that showed a significant improvement in survival time for melanoma patients; there are a number of papers that investigate it and try to identify the mechanism (it may stimulate apoptosis in some cancer cells).
So it’s one among many. It’s got some promising preliminary results — but those are dime a dozen, I’m afraid, and many drugs that are initially interesting don’t pan out — and scientists are exploring it and publishing on it. It doesn’t magically vaporize tumors. The melanoma patients eventually died, but their average survival was prolonged. That’s the reality of cancer research.
But I was intrigued by the Health Sciences Institute. That’s a name with authority, and it sounds like a real thing. When you dig a little deeper, though, it seems to be little more than a website and Jenny Thompson, who has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has appointed herself director of her very own sciencey institute of research and medicine.
I’ve been missing a trick. I need to declare Pharyngula to be a research think tank, start issuing dozens of e-alerts every month, and promote more FUD to draw in the massive donations so I can afford to advertise in the Washington Times, or the Daily Mail, or whatever hack rag with no standards will accept my money.
I just need a good title. “Pharyngula” is probably too obscure. Give me some ideas for convincing masks for pseudoscience, so I can get on that gravy train.
Jenny Thompson is a very naughty person. I did not sign up for anything on her website, and I didn’t even leave my email address anywhere there…but she went ahead and signed me up for her HSI e-alerts anyway. That’s OK, though, I’ve also put her HSI email address in my spam filters, so we’re even.