Monday, 9 January 2012

Marc Stephens... phoney or fruitcake?

The "big" story towards the end of 2011 was the activities of the Burzynski Clinic in the US and those of the curious Marc Stephens who, rather than engage with the criticisms of the clinic, decided to stalk a 17 year old sceptic called Rhys Morgan by posting a picture of his parent's house in his email correspondence.

Rhys Morgan collecting an award from the sceptic Jedi Master James Randi

(There is a debt collection company I will be 'outing' in the next few weeks who also engage in this practice to intimidate potential debtors or, more often than not, random members of the public.) 

I digress.

I won't go too much into the Burzynski issue, because this rebuttal of his methods here is exemplary, suffice to say that trying to cure people with urine is quite an ancient woo woo and that I believe the actions of the clinic cause serious harm to the public. By that I mean his methods are not credible and people are giving his clinic thousands of pounds (or dollars... all money is the same to that fella it seems) for a therapy which is not efficacious (i.e. not proven to work or, more accurately, is BS). 

Buzynski could be a well meaning doctor desperate for a cure for cancer. I won't say he isn't. But in the face of the evidence that his methods do not work when empirically tested he is doing serious harm to his patients. No question. The evidence shows his methods do not work. How much clearer does that need to be?

But of course he is making money from this. LOTS of money. And he doesn't seem to mind taking money for something which, when peer reviewed, does not work. That, in my mind, makes him a charlatan. A snake oil salesman. But he's a snake oils salesman who won't stop; even in the face of the scientific criticism of his work... he carries on, convinced that his method will work one day or, from the evidence us sceptics have, that more people will be tempted by his very polished sales patter... we need something like this to dismiss nonsense:

Buzynski is either deluded or a crook. There's really no other way to put it. I'm sure he is well meaning on some level but the efficacy of his treatment should have told him long ago that he is on the wrong track. How many more people have to die before he is considered a public health risk?

I am certain about on thing... Marc Stephens is a crooked piece of shit. This is the "internet lawyer" who was employed by Burzynski to respond to the criticisms of his work. Stephens is the guy who has literally been doling out legal threats left, right and centre for the past few weeks. According to the Burzynski clinic, he was sacked after the fallout from the threats directed to Rhys Morgan.

Is he potentially a rogue employee or a defender of Burzynski frothing at the mouth when given some power to enact a damage containment exercise? Is he someone who looked at Britain's libel laws and thought...

Mr. Burzynski, the state bar forbids me from promising you a big cash settlement.
But, just between you and me, I promise you a big cash settlement

It's interesting that since being publicly sacked he has continued dishing out the threats since and, in particular, to the blogger Ken White over at Popehat (an excellent blog by the way). 

In fact, it was White who convinced me it was worth writing about this when he wrote:

"Thuggish lawsuit threats calculated to chill dissent only work when people refuse to fight back. Let's fight back."

I agree, we need to fight these churlish threats and treat them for what they are; egotistical stunts designed to close down dissent.

I'm already in the High Court defending libel proceedings and have only wrote a couple of posts on my blog since to keep something of a low profile and, mainly, because the case is incredibly stressful and has taken me away from what I would consider a normal life.

It's taught me you should be careful what you say. And it has had the effect of me having to really think about what I write and how I write it. However, this issue is too important to ignore. For an adult to intimidate a young guy starting out in the world of scepticism (and gaining a positive reputation) by posting details of his address and sending a photo of it is nothing short of criminal as far as I am concerned. It's an act of cowardice. It's the act of a pathetic individual desperately seeking to justify their existence. 

Now I'm sure that Rhys could have withstood a rational a reasoned debate were he wrong about what he was reporting. When you start writing in a adult world you need to be able to handle the responses you get. I'm very confident that Rhys would have been able to engage with Marc on a level playing field or even one slightly tipped against him. However, to intimidate someone using the law and use tactics similar to that of a stalker is where a line should be drawn and I'm happy to defend Rhys and any other blogger using whatever means available.

In any event Marc Stephens has been caught out and shown up for what he is. And with his refusal to supply details of his legal registration which, at the time of writing, does not exist, he is more than likely a wannabe who is too lazy to put the work into law school. Taking the short cut never works. 

He could well be someone on the Burzynski payroll or, quite simply, a lonely keyboard warrior who needs attention. 

Cyber Threats 'R' Us... 

Either way, he needs to be shown that people are not intimidated and they will not be bullied, especially by morons like him.

Ken White has my support with this and as soon as I am able I will ensure that I devote some more time to raising the public's awareness of Burzynski's scientifically flawed, and therefore unethical, clinical method (Antineoplaston therapy) and the perverse actions of the shyster Marc Stephens.

If he wanted a fight, he picked the wrong crowd.


Ken at Popehat said...

Thank you for the kind words, and for being part of the fight against censorship. I look forward to reading about your own struggle and learning something about it.

Anonymous said...

Buzynski is still alive and kicking and being honored by the Catholic Church in 2013!!!

Kiran Schmidt claims on his web pages: .’ Dr Burzynski , join the Medical Order of the Knights Hospitaller .. his work honored by the Catholic Church by being initiated as …“Commander of the Knight-order of St.Gregory the Great’
With photo and signed documents to prove!!
More quackery, who can tell!!!