The Burzynski Case and the Pitfalls of Medical Journalism, with Tamar Wilner

April 18, 2016

Host: Lindsay Beyerstein

Medical doctors can hold our lives in their hands. But with great power comes great responsibility, and doctors owe it to their patients to provide accurate information and treatments based on science and evidence. This is the standard we expect and take for granted; yet one doctor, Stanislaw Burzynski, has been skirting medical ethics and scientific protocols for decades with his controversial and unproven cancer treatments, which he claims without evidence, can destroy cancer cells. The Center for Inquiry, which produces this podcast, has worked to expose Burzynski’s treatments and for the FDA to reinstate restrictions on his dubious medical trials.

This week, Point of Inquiry welcomes science journalist Tamar Wilner to discuss the most recent progress in the Burzynski case, and what it’s like to pursue the hard truth within such a murky and emotionally fraught situation. Wilner is a frequent contributor to the Columbia Journalism Review and a consultant for the Fact Checking Project at the American Press Institute; she’s written numerous articles on controversial science issues including her recent Newsweek feature, “Cancer ‘Visionary’ Stanislaw Burzynski Stands Trial for Unprecedented Medical Malfeasance.” She’s also been featured at Skeptical Inquirer with a piece entitled "Five Things I Learned Writting about Stanislaw Burzynski."

A further explanation of Burzynski's treatments, the lack of science behind them, and his run-ins with medical authorities can be found in a feature by Dr. David Gorski in the March-April 2014 issue of Skeptical Inquirer