Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Seven Signs of a Quack

By Peter Bowditch

How does an expensive cancer clinic measure up against seven signs of pseudoscience?

Peter Bowditch is a former President of Australian Skeptics Inc. (www.skeptics.com.au).

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

In his book Voodoo Science, physicist Bob Park lists seven signs of pseudoscience:

1. Discoveries are announced to the media, not in peer-reviewed journals.

2. A powerful establishment suppresses the discovery.

3. The effect is at the limits of detection and usually only demonstrated by torturing statistics.

4. Evidence is anecdotal.

5. The knowledge has been known for centuries because people who lived in the past knew more than we know today.

6. The pseudoscientist works in isolation, not as a part of any establishment research facility.

7. New laws of nature need to be proposed to explain what is happening.

Recently I have had my interest in Houston cancer curer Dr Stanislaw Burzynski revived, and I thought it might be instructive to see how many of these signs he shows. I first became aware of Burzynski in 2000 when I found him using the tragedy of a child with terminal cancer in a campaign to raise money for his clinic and to swing public opinion against the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and anyone else who wanted to place any restriction on offering unproven cures for cancer.

Burzynski graduated as a doctor in 1967 in Poland, and according to a grant application in 1973 he obtained a Doctor of Medical Science degree in 1968, although his current CV says that he was awarded a PhD in the same year....

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.