Atavistic metamorphosis proposes that cancer cells are cells that have reverted, evolutionarily, to their ancestral, independent status as unicellular organisms. It is from there that cancer only occurs in plants and animals/humans (multicellular organisms). This also explains why cancer does not occur nor can be induced experimentally in unicellular organisms such as bacteria, fungi and protozoa.
Not everybody is a fan. For instance, Dr. David Gorski critiqued Dr. Arguello's theories and approaches on his website Science-Based Medicine, which he uses to call out and debunk junk science:
Contrary to what Davies, Lineweaver, and Arguello seem to think, the reason the atavistic hypothesis of cancer hasn’t caught on is because it’s a hypothesis that is not new and has been considered and found wanting from a standpoint of biology and evolution. Unfortunately, it is a hypothesis that is easily co-opted for quackery, as Arguello has done.
I was going to quote more but it had big science words and I got tired.
Anyway, Dr. Arguello will not stand for someone disagreeing with him about science. In a rather bizarre exchange of emails, Dr. Arguello eventually resorted to threats and legal analysis that are at least as innovative as his cancer theories.
His last email begins like this:
For historical reasons, I have been replying in detail and respectfully to your defamatory statements in your original piece posted in your website. I really find it difficult to discuss the science and treatment of cancer with you, because I believe you do not understand the biology of cancer, but also you have the mentality of those inside the box. You never think outside the box, and cannot conceive concepts that are outside the box, and therefore alien to you.
Note: whenever a client asks me to "think outside the box" for a solution to his or her problem, I get a stabbing pain behind my right eye, because it's a null-content phrase. Innovation is one thing; stubborn denial of reality is another.
After a discussion of clinical trials, Dr. Arguello gets down to the meat of the matter:
(3) Defamation (Slander and Libel): If you express your scientific or vernacular opinions on DCA, marijuana, ketogenic diets, the ugliness of frogs at night, the existence of ghosts, etc., there are no legal consequences for that in the country in which I am a citizen (USA), and the countries you specifically mentioned in your internet piece (Canada and Mexico).
This is not a promising start.
But when you name a person, a business, a product, brand, a service, etc., you are entering a new terrain protected by laws in each country, and international laws. Although some journalists may be immune to them, because of lawful reasons, you are not. If your comments are made publicly (verbally or written), for example, that Justin Bieber is selfish and rude, and he should go back to Canada, there may be no consequence for that either. But if you express publicly (verbally or written) that Justin Bieber does not sing, but howls, and he should not be hired to sing at any event, then you will pay the consequences of that. Whether you are right or not about his singing, that is your personal opinion. You are potentially ruining his career, reputation, credibility, work, and the financial compensation of his work as a singer. In the case of Bieber, that could cost you millions for libel/defamation for damages in his countries of work.
Maybe prehistoric single-celled organisms had defamation laws like this, but we don't. It's gibberish. First, journalists are not "immune" to laws "because of lawful reasons." To the extent that Dr. Arguello means to suggest that Dr. Gorski's writing enjoys less legal protection because he does not own a card that says "journalist," he's wrong, as the Crystal Cox case recently illustrated. Also, Dr. Arguello's asserted distinction between criticizing Justin Bieber and urging others not to listen to Justin Bieber is entirely fabricated. There is no such distinction. Both are protected expressions of opinion.
When you publicly state in an international venue, such as the internet, that “Dr. Arguello’s treatment is dubious and it should be avoided,” that will cost you, too. Perhaps not millions as in the case of Bieber, but enough to compensate me for the potential damage caused to my practice now and in the future not only regarding my ability to make money, but for exposing me to hatred, contempt and ridicule.
Well, no. Dr. Gorski's critiques are classic statements of opinion based on disclosed facts. He quotes from Dr. Arguello's writings and then explains — with links, references to scientific principles, and examples — why he thinks Dr. Arguello is wrong. He doesn't imply that his opinion is based on any undisclosed (and potentially false) facts. The First Amendment absolutely protects such commentary. But purveyors of "outside the box" science occasionally must be reminded of that — like, for instance, the naturopath who had to be taught that people have the right to call him a quack.
Now, because you dislike Justin Bieber, you are not free to slander and advocate that he should not be hired. In the USA, Canada and Mexico we have “defamatory libel” and “blasphemous/malicious libel.”
No we don't. Libel is a subset of defamation. And there is no category called "blasphemous/malicious libel." And yes, you do have the right to urge against anyone hiring Justin Bieber. Watch. DON'T HIRE JUSTIN BIEBER. Nobody's going to sue me, with the possible exception of delusional street people who think they are Justin Bieber, because I'm allowed to say that.
In Canada, both are crimes punishable by a maximum term of two years in prison. In the specific case of a “libel known to be false,” the prison term increases to a maximum of five years.
Given what I know about Canada's loathsome approach to free expression, this would not surprise me, but I suspect it is overstated.
I had a short conversation with my lawyer concerning this matter, and it appears that you have been crossing the line and targeting people by name. I am wondering if I should join forces with others as a class suit, or do it alone. The question is how much can we get from you and your cronies?
Is your lawyer a Weimaraner? Because anyone who gave you that legal advice spent most of law school licking his balls.
Please do not say that I am threatening you with legal action. I am not threatening; I am telling you what I am going to do.
I really didn't think people uttered the "that's not a threat, that's a promise" thing any more. I thought it was a staple of 1980s action movies, uttered by Stallone and his ilk. Is this an Expendables promotion?
P.S. I know that these e-mails will become public someday, from there that I have not been using my French on you. Suffice to say that I am fluent in French when someone interferes, for no reason, in this important work. This is aside of slandering me.
You know, if you told me, "Ken, you're going to see a threatening communication, and the scariest and most credible part of it will be when the writer implies he may start speaking French," I would have called you a looney. The world never ceases to surprise me.
I'm a blogger, not a doctor, dammit. I'm not qualified to give a detailed critique of the atavistic theory of oncology. But I will say this: Dr. Arguello's theories of defamation are buffoonish and have no basis in law or reality. Free speech law isn't rocket science. I practice it, for God's sake. Dr. Arguello's threat shows a mind that has not grasped anything useful about the subject and that clearly has not attempted to educate itself. I would not go to a doctor like that.
Should Dr. Arguello attempt to carry out his threat, he will encounter difficulties. It would be futile for him to sue in another country: under the SPEECH Act, American courts will not enforce foreign defamation judgments unless they are secured using laws as speech-protective as ours. If he sues here, he will be stomped like a cockroach, and depending upon the jurisdiction, possibly sanctioned or otherwise ordered to pay attorney fees. I will not hesitate to light the Popehat Signal to get help for Dr. Gorski, as I have before when angry purveyors of questionable "science" have sued critics.
I continue to wonder, though, why purveyors of junk science are so enthusiastic about legal threats.
Edited to add: Dr. Arguello has now sent rambling and threatening emails to Dr. Gorski's place of work, implying he will sue them as well. The update is on Dr. Gorski's post:
Days later, Dr. Gorski posted online a number of defamatory statements about me, the atavistic nature of cancer cells which has been published by others before, and my treatment approach.
. . . .
I have contacted a law firm in Ohio which specializes in libel and slander via the internet. I just wanted to let you know that since he uses his affiliation with Wayne School of Medicine to boost his credibility, you could be also named in that suit. I perfectly understand that you do not support or review his writing on his website, but it is impossible for a lawyer not to see the direct connection between his defamatory work on that website and you in the same line of work.
So now it is possible to defame concepts, like the "atavistic nature of cancer cells." I wonder if the concept "land war in Asia" has a lawyer yet. Can anyone introduce me?
Second Update: Dr. Arguello has sent a further threatening email to Dr. Gorksi, set forth in the fifth update to this post. The last sentence of the email captures Dr. Arguello's legal ignorance and needy hubris:
If you want to talk about that subject of atavistic oncology, submit your paper to a peer-review medical journal.
What an arrogant, censorious, disturbed punk. Who would let themselves be treated by such a person?
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- Free Speech Triumphant Or Free Speech In Retreat? - June 21st, 2017
- The Power To Generate Crimes Rather Than Merely Investigate Them - June 19th, 2017
- Free Speech, The Goose, And The Gander - June 17th, 2017
- Free Speech Tropes In The LA Times - June 8th, 2017
- I write letters - June 1st, 2017