The ‘truth’ of another story?

The disingenuous anti-science of ardent quackery promoter Laura Bond is immediately apparent in the title of (another book-promoting) recent blog article, ‘Science helped me say no to chemo’. As a journalist she knows full well that ‘Health’ is one of journalism’s attention-grabbing pigeon-holes; readers are interested first and foremost in “What’s in it for me?” This state of affairs enables Bond to publicise herself and her cause, which thus acquires faux-validity, a tactic typical of the anti-/pseudo-science mover, ably facilitated by equally shameless others:

‘Knowing this, I was hugely grateful to those editors who defied the usual blanket silence on alternative cancer therapies and mentioned my book in their pages last month.’

Usual blanket silence?! Is she kidding? The web and the media (particularly a pandering sub-section) are awash with such readily-assimilated crud. This whining on about ‘censorship’ is increasingly the resort of quackery promoters upon criticism of their activities and statements.

Here Bond provides one story from among the ‘flurry of emails from people who… had overcome their cancer naturally.’ Why select this particular one? Is it because the integrity of its subject, a police officer, can be assumed unquestionably? Quite what the relevance of his 6 ft 6 in height is, I’m not sure, unless to emphasise his upstandingness; whatever, it all contributes to Laura’s humanising narrative. Moreover, the ‘three science-based degrees’ to boot is further information meant, I suppose, to give credence to, and deflect attack of, the evident unscientific statements which ensue. This is a not uncommon tactic: people supposedly schooled in science/medicine who (have) flaunt(ed) their scientific/medical credentials/qualifications, whilst attacking the scientific/medical establishment wherefrom they were gained. Perhaps no surprise, then, that the single (twice linked) reference cited as ‘my research’ takes us to the conspiracy theorising (‘I believe that the medical industrial complex is the second largest revenue generator for the American gross national product after its military industrial complex.’) propaganda of one Dr. Carlos M.Garcia M.D., who, though medically trained (partly at the interestingly named Hahnemann University), considers that his dislike of Big Pharma somehow –  with classic non sequitur – validates and justifies resort to ‘alternatives’. Seemingly, another media-loving egotist who positions himself as a maverick uniquely endowed with penny-dropped knowledge of more efficacious cancer treatments; one superior to all those other medically-trained bozos collectively engaged in Big Pharma’s modi operandi – actually keeping sufferers suffering.

But such sceptical considerations do not trouble Laura and her thrice-science-degreed subject, whose ‘research’ apparently does not go as far as establishing that the actual document happily flag-waved by his appealed-to authority is a favourite of quacks, who perhaps don’t concern themselves with questioning it too much. But let’s not quibble over that, and instead consider some of the ensuing statements. Statements for which the upstanding scientist-policeman, having done his ‘research’, surely also provides links to verifiable, authoritative scientific references. Right? Well, nothing more is said for the throwaway drinking the odd cup of green tea’, so presumably that was not too important. But then ensues a cacophony of quackery: alternative treatments, nutrition/environment, and the old ‘positive thinking’ chestnut. Reading about the attention to all this stuff and I wonder quite what time is available for doing anything else!

Well, there are links aplenty… primarily to… (surprise, surprise) Laura’s various pronouncements on said treatment topic. After all, although this was introduced as his story, in his own words…’ this is her vehicle (and presumably her title). If you want ‘authoritative’ sources, you have to first wade through more of Laura’s often nonsensical drivel, which may, variously, include links to: alternative cancer treatments/clinics; alternative medicine gurus; alternative/nutrition/dietary product sites/pedlars; more Big Pharma conspiracy theorising; other books written by the like-minded; media articles which accord with her line; and copious interconnections to… herself. (Oh, you may occasionally come across the occasional cherry-picked link to an actual scientific paper in an actual scientific journal. As to any relevance…) Navigate your way through this and you’ll likely come across pretty much any CAM variant you might want to find. It all reads so wonderful it’s a wonder that cancer exists at all… let alone people dying of it… because they don’t know about this… because the medical establishment won’t tell ’em?! Laura Bond apparently believes it all… and wants to share it with you. Including (to take one example that is only one rung higher up on the ladder of stupidity than ear candling) the practice of flushing coffee up yer jacksy. This recommendation of the coffee enema (covered in ‘elaborate detail’ in her book) is some read: with appeals to antiquity and the authority of Proper Prince Charlie, it doubles as a recommend for Gerson Therapy. Which ought to give anybody with a modicum of rational capability pause for thought. But some are suckers for anecdotage… as Laura well knows.

My take on this particular one is not (in case I need to make clear to anybody primed to perceive heartlessness) an attack on its subject. What I find objectionable (aside from the slippery tactic of avoiding criticism through the presumed untouchability of emotive anecdotes) are the statements made – by whomever. Depending on the particular case circumstances, it may be perfectly understandable, reasonable and justified to reject chemotherapy. But doing so does not constitute justification for resort to the dubious suggestions provided here. I do not know how Laura Bond regards the nous of her readership (including ‘those editors’) and its (in)capability of recognising the non sequiturs. But, notwithstanding her careful disclaimer that carefully appears at the foot of every one of her posts, much of this ‘knowledge and information’ is, in my opinion, egregiously irresponsible.

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