As Andy Lewis at The Quackometer reports, The Observer have responded to the online storm caused by their failure to question the facts surrounding The Burzynski Clinic's range of treatments.
It's a poor article that ends with this:
I'll leave the last word to the deputy editor. "We had no intention of endorsing or otherwise the treatment that the Bainbridge family have chosen for Billie. The focus of the article was the extraordinary campaign to raise money for the course of action that the family, after careful consideration of the benefits and risks, had decided to pursue. It is a story of courage and generosity involving thousands of people. Of course, it is entirely legitimate to raise issues about the Burzynski clinic as a number of readers have done, and we should have done more to explain the controversy that it has provoked. But some participants in the debate have combined aggression, sanctimony and a disregard for the facts in a way which has predictably caused much distress to the Bainbridge family."So, they admit their failure to report the facts properly, but can't resist a dig at the blogosphere (presumably), calling 'some participants' aggressive, sanctimonious and with a disregard for the facts. This is a cowardly way to smear a whole range of people who have posted on the subject, including Andy and Rhys Morgan, the 17 year old blogger from Wales, who are mentioned in the article.
This is ironic, since it's The Observer who are now coming over as aggressive, sanctimonious and with a disregard of the facts, in this piece.
It's worth noting that Andy and Rhys, among others simply raised concerns about the Clinic, and these concerns are justified. What caused the ensuing storm were the actions of an agent of the Burzynski Clinic, who adopted rough-house bullying tactics to try to silence these legitimate concerns. The Observer fail to make clear the nature of these bullying tactics. This is a serious omission.
I’ve not read any blogger who blames the families for pursuing the possibility of a cure – who wouldn’t clutch at such straws in similar circumstances? That’s what makes it important to examine the claims of potential miracle cures, and this is a duty that The Observer have failed to observe.
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UPDATE: David Gorski on Burzynski's “personalized gene-targeted therapy”; "cancer is complicated":
...skirting the line between science and pseudoscience, Dr. Burzynski gives every appearance of recklessly throwing together untested combinations of targeted agents willy-nilly to see if any of them stick but without having a systematic plan to determine when or if he has successfully matched therapy to genetic abnormality.