The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

“Natural Cures” Douchebags Use Patrick Swayze’s Death to Push Their Woo

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 18, 2009

Like many of you, I was saddened to read the news of Patrick Swayze’s untimely death – Roadhouse will forever be one of my most favorite movies.  Unfortunately, there are those who will look to take advantage of any opportunity to push their pseudoscientific nonsense, just as the douchebags over at have done regarding Swayze’s death.

Swayze died of pancreatic cancer, and he fought the disease as best he could using science-based medicine.  But in an article apparently based in an alternate reality, these anti-science-based medicine folks state that it is precisely because he relied on science-based medicine that he died.  You’ve that right, folks: according to these deluded people, science killed Patrick Swayze!  *facepalm*

Patrick Swayze dead at 57 after chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer

Beloved actor Patrick Swayze died yesterday evening after a 20-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Having put his faith in conventional chemotherapy, he largely dismissed ideas that nutrition, superfoods or “alternative medicine” might save him, instead betting his life on the chemotherapy approach which seeks to poison the body into a state of remission instead of nourishing it into a state of health.

Okay, so these morons start pushing the “chemotherapy = poison” line right off the bat.  This is nothing more than a blatant attempt to scare people about a useful & serious method for combating cancer.  By equating it with poison, they try to leave the reader with the impression that nothing good comes out of chemotherapy, despite the fact that it is one of the most reliable methods of treating cancer available.  Which leads to the next part of the article…

Peter Jennings died following chemotherapy for lung cancer. Heath Ledger died following an accidental overdose of prescription medications ( Michael Jackson was killed by a doctor-administered injection of lethal painkillers. Famed newscaster Tim Russert most likely died from the fatal side effects of cholesterol medications (…). Former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow died after receiving chemotherapy for colon cancer (…), and Bernie Mac was most likely killed by pharmaceutical side effects (…).

In this screed of pure stupid, the goofs are displaying that time honored pseudoscientific trick of cherry picking: they are pointing out only high profile deaths associated with science-based medicine.  The one, and monumentally important, fact they’re leaving out – intentionally, I think – is that there are vastly higher numbers of people who are treated & cured of their diseases & ailments using these methods than those who are killed.

And another thing to note is the slippery rhetoric used above… notice how in the cases of Peter Jennings & Tony Snow the article states that they “died after receiving chemotherapy”.  They didn’t die because of the chemotherapy, they died from cancer – but the article gives the impression (again tying into the “chemotherapy = poison” nonsense) that it was the chemotherapy that killed Jennings & Snow!  This is a common logical fallacy called post hoc ergo propter hoc, or “after this, therefore because (on account) of this” – implying that because these people died after they had chemotherapy that it must have been the chemo that killed them.  It’s also a completely douchebaggy move to make, for reasons I’ll outline below after I vent my spleen some more.

And this next section of the article is perhaps the most reprehensible…

Western medicine offers no hope, no solutions

Of course, the cancer industry takes no responsibility for his death. Drug companies and cancer docs never accept responsibility for the way their poisonous treatments harm (and often kill) many fine people.

Had Patrick Swayze’s pancreatic cancer gone away, doctors would have hailed chemotherapy as the genius treatment that saved Swayze’s life. But chemotherapy has never healed anyone of cancer. Not once in the history of medicine. And when people die after being poisoned by chemotherapy, the oncologists and conventional medical doctors just shrug and say ridiculous things like, “The cancer was too far along” or “He didn’t fight it hard enough.”

No one fought cancer more diligently and optimistically than Patrick Swayze. Even after being diagnosed with an admittedly scary disease — pancreatic cancer — he remained upbeat and enthusiastic about beating the condition. He put more faith in conventional medicine and chemotherapy than perhaps anyone, and yet that medicine failed him just the same. No one can fault Swayze himself for a lack of optimism.

“I want to last until they find a cure, which means I’d better get a fire under it,” Swayze said in a highly-publicized interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters. No one apparently told Swayze the cancer industry isn’t looking for a cure. They’re looking for more business from more patients, and a genuine “cure” for cancer is flatly incompatible with the industry’s business interests.

I don’t even know where to begin with this steaming pile of crap.  Essentially, this last bit is one big, long conspiracy-mongering rant against all forms of science-based medicine.  They even say it in the section title “Western medicine offers no hope, no solutions”, by which when they say Western they mean scientific. This is, again, meant to reinforce the too-widely held belief that science-based medicine cannot be trusted because all it is is a vehicle for the pharmaceutical industry to make money, also known as the Big Pharma conspiracy. By painting any and all science-based medicine with such a brush, these “natural cures” woo-meisters hope to force people into believing a false dichotomy: that if science-based medicine is bad & useless, then by default the “natural cures” stuff must be good (despite the lack of evidence that such “natural cures” are useful at all)!

Folks, this is the same kind of argumentation employed by pseudoscientists of numerous stripes, from creationists to global warming deniers to all manner of medical quackery such as the “natural cures” crowd. Note that these folks do not offer any actual science-based evidence that their supposed cures will actually cure people’s cancer, they merely talk trash and attempt to make the medical & scientific communities out to be the bad guys. They are offering no solutions that can be scientifically tested & verified, they are merely feeding into people’s most base & nasty emotions in an attempt to pawn off upon them completely useless and un-regulated snake-oil “cures” which will do nothing but lighten your wallet while making you suspicious of actual medicine which works.

You know, now that I think about it, calling these people douchebags is kind of an insult… to douchebags.

12 Responses to ““Natural Cures” Douchebags Use Patrick Swayze’s Death to Push Their Woo”

  1. Jake K. said

    Disgusting vultures… You missed a big part of the “no hope, no solutions” nonsense, though! They segue from “it was too far advanced” (which can be true) to “he didn’t fight hard enough” (an excuse I’ve heard from quacks, but can’t recall ever hearing from real doctors) and then address solely the latter claim. Are they trying to distract attention from medically plausible explanations by glossing over them? Or to make it sound like “bullshit by association”? Last I heard, science did NOT back the claim that attitude has any noticeable effect on cancer survival. Back when I was into reiki and other nonsense, however, I was taught that if a victim – er, patient – didn’t improve from woo treatment, it was because their spirit was resisting or not yet ready to let go of their disease… So who exactly is making that disgusting claim about if only he’d believed and wanted it enough?

    • mattusmaximus said

      Thanks for catching that. It’s like the same crap those creeps who push “The Secret” pull – they tell folks who buy into their b.s. that they’ll get what they want by wishing for it really hard. And if they don’t get it, it’s simply because they didn’t believe strongly enough. You’re right, it is disgusting.

  2. ztrewq said

    There has been a singer in Poland called Jacek Kaczmarski. He was an icon in the 80s, and also later. He drunk. He smoked like a chimney. He wrote great poetry. He contracted esophageal cancer.

    The conventional medicine suggested an immediate surgery. Instead, Kaczmarski, afraid of losing his voice, listened to advice of his relatives and friends, and decided to opt for alternative medicine approach — ProLife Clinic in Igls / Innsbruck, medicines from Ands and Amazons, homeopatic cures, selenite, therapy with magnetic field, ukrain therapy, manayupa, sangre di drago, vilcacora. All that was very expensive, and concerts for support have been organised by his friends.

    Naturally, that doesn’t help. Kaczmarski dies in 2004. And no, I am not joking. He really tried all that shit, you can read about that in his biography by Anna Grazi and in other sources.


  3. […] “Natural Cures” Douchebags Use Patrick Swayze's Death to Push … :and-all, default-the, false-dichotomy, force-people, medicine-with, Natural […]

  4. […] why let the facts get in the way of vitriol and propaganda? I could go on, but just go and read Skeptical Teacher for a very blunt and NSFW article on […]

  5. ac said

    Well, in a certain sense they are somehow right. It is natural to die from most forms of cancer, so any way to fight against cancer is an anti-natural process by definition.

    All those so called natural treatments (aka woo medicine) are only good fighting anxiety and depression and giving false hope, they are sooo natural than never fight the cancer properly.

  6. Greg Fish said

    I had three questions about this… well, it’s less of an article and more of a disgusting close-up of a vulture next deep in carrion, gargling its throat with blood.

    1. What are “natural cures” exactly? Certain chemotherapy compounds are based on extracts from plants. Some painkillers are based on animal venom. Does that mean that they’re natural cures?

    And speaking of venom, it’s totally natural. Does that mean you should go milk a black mamba and drink its venom because “Mother Nature knows best?”

    2. How exactly could drug companies not make money in natural cures when alt med quacks haul in billions from it? There’s no money in it unless you’re a millionaire supplement makes exempt from FDA review and approval?

    3. What would Mike do if he was diagnosed with cancer? My bet is that his ass would be in an oncologist’s waiting room so fast, it would win off the starting line against an FY-22 Raptor.

    Funny thing is that after I reviewed the possible answers, there were still alt med ghouls oblivious enough to defend this jackass:

  7. Ian H. said

    I was referred over here by Bad Astronomy, and Phil makes a point that I think you missed: saying someone died after doing something is completely ridiculous because it ignores the fact that everyone dies. If you’re willing to stretch it, you could apply the “he died after X, so it must be because of X” to anything, because eventually we’re all going to kick it. It’s a ridiculous argument to bring up, and just shows how weak their position is.

  8. Leon said

    Your copious use of the term “douchebags” was entirely appropriate. “Liars” would have worked too, judging by some of the obvious whoppers they told–especially “chemotherapy has never healed anyone of cancer. Not once in the history of medicine.” Mike Adams is apparently one of those devout Christians who doesn’t mind violating the Ninth Commandment.

  9. […] why let the facts get in the way of vitriol and propaganda? I could go on, but just go and read Skeptical Teacher for a very blunt and NSFW article on […]

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