How I would make millions by ripping off children with cancer

Please don’t be worried by the title of this post. I haven’t turned evil, this is simply a thought exercise.

First off, I’d do the hard part and get a medical degree. I’d follow this up by getting a qualification that isn’t quite a doctorate, but I’d say it is anyway so that I could write Ph.D after my name as well as MD. I’d then follow this by researching at a university for several years, trying to find a simple chemical in urine that I could patent as a cancer cure. Once I had this patent, I’d open up my own clinic to treat cancer patients with it. Of course, I’d need to get around the fact that my drug wouldn’t work or have any sort of official approval. To do that, I’d treat patients as part of a ‘clinical trial’. Also, there would be nothing to stop me using real cancer drugs at my clinic, I just wouldn’t draw attention to that! I’d charge patients huge amounts of money for my treatment, and I wouldn’t feel bad at all about charging the parents of terminally ill children hundreds of thousands of dollars. Who knows, perhaps some famous comedians would put on charity gigs to pay for my treatments!

Of course, some people in this world would want to see some evidence that my treatment worked, and they wouldn’t be happy that I was selling their children false hope for extortionately high prices. In an attempt to placate them, I would fine some patients that have been lucky enough to survive my treatments, and put images of their beaming, smiling faces on my website. Everyone loves a testimonial, especially if it’s from a cute child! For those that want some actual scientific evidence, I’d occasionally write a piss-poor paper about my research and submit it to a desperate, crappy journal somewhere. I’d also present my work at a conference from time to time, and reference those presentations as if they were papers. Most people won’t know the difference! It wouldn’t matter if other scientists could not replicate my results, and I’d pay no heed to the opinions of cancer charities.

Now, with the scientific evidence for my ‘treatment’ being either flimsy or non-existent, I’d need a well-oiled propaganda machine in place. Once again, I’d resort to my testimonials as evidence. I’d say that the authorities are part of ‘big pharma’, who don’t want people to be treated by my amazing cure as it means they will lose money. I’d also rally against the establishment, claim that other scientists know nothing and declare myself a ‘maverick’. Once I had a dedicated following, I could even get a film made! Anything to get more people through the doors to line my pockets!

But, what to do with my detractors? I wouldn’t follow the normal scientific procedures and address criticism in the peer reviewed literature, I’d hire a lawyer to bully anyone who dared speak against me with threats of libel. I’d have plenty of money by then, and could easily absorb any costs involved. I’m counting the money in my head right now!

Fortunately, I will of course never do this because I’m not a shameless, manipulative greed-driven monster.

By the way, this has nothing to do at all with the Burzynski clinic. Nothing whatsoever.

Inductivism versus empiricism in a Rage comic

Tomorrow, I’ll be in Hackney talking about the scientific method. A key development in the scientific method occurred during the 20th century when Karl Popper worked to show the benefits of empirical falsification over classical inductivism. I’ve tried to sum up the difference between the two positions in a Rage comic. And why not?

Inductivism versus  empiricism

If you like it, please vote for it!.

Catch me ‘on tour’!

It’s just dawned on me that I’ll be at three speaking events within a fortnight. They are all in different places throughout the UK, so if you were feeling generous you could broadly call it a speaking tour! Dates and events are as follows:

November 28th 2011: “The Scientific Method: Uses and Abuses” at Hackney Skeptics in the Pub

December 1st 2011: “ATP: Nature’s unsung hero” for Ignite Liverpool

December 12th 2011: “The Scientific Method: Uses and Abuses” at York Skeptics in the Pub

I’m hugely looking forward to all of these. Hackney will be my first talk in London, and it’s also their very first event! York will be a bit of a homecoming for me, as I did my first two degrees there (some guy called Chris French giving their first talk!). The Ignite event should be a very interesting affair. I did a talk at the last one, and the 5 minute format makes for a rapid and engaging evening!

Looking forward to hopefully seeing lots of you at these events!