Do you know The Tragic and False ‘Complete’ Cancer Cure Story? ISN’T THE HEADLINE “Scientists Discover a Cure for Cancer” MORE enticing? For the greater half of a century, some variation of this outlandish allegation has been reported on as frequently as a super-blood wolf moon. Cancer treatment would be available by the year 2000, James Watson predicted to The New York Times in 1998. This magazine wasn’t exempt either; a few years later, it had an “End of Cancer” headline. For patients and their families who are eager to find a cure, regardless of the risk or expense, each incident inspires optimism. And yet, here we are in 2019, with a conglomeration of intricate, disparate diseases that we collectively refer to as “cancer.”
You would think that news producers and consumers would have picked up their lesson by now. However, the most recent iteration of the hoax cancer cure story has even more glaring flaws than before. Media sources are as keen as ever to capitalize on the public’s cancer treatment-induced amnesia. It seems that hope triumphs over history.
The Tragic and False ‘Complete’ Cancer Cure Story
The Jerusalem Post, a liberal Israeli newspaper, published an online article on Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies on Monday. This modest company has been developing a potential combination of anti-cancer drugs since 2000. The article’s headline, “A Cure for Cancer? Israeli Scientists Think They Found One,” which was based almost completely on an interview with Dan Aridor, one of the three people named on Aebi’s website and the company’s board chair. Ardor made several bold declarations in it, one of which was, “We believe we will deliver in a year’s time a comprehensive treatment for cancer.”
Given that the corporation hasn’t done a single human trial or released even a single bit of information from their finished experiments involving petri dish cells and caged rodents, it was an unusually brazen action. A pharmaceutical start-up would normally submit such preclinical work for peer review to substantiate any claims and utilize it to raise money for clinical testing. The PR stunt by Aebi could be an effort at a shortcut. Ilan Morad, the company’s founder, and CEO, explained to the Times of Israel in an interview on Tuesday that a lack of financial flow is the main factor for Aebi’s decision not to release statistics.
No independent oncology experts were interviewed for the initial Jerusalem Post report. It didn’t even raise any doubts about the time lag between preclinical research that is speculative and conducted under confined laboratory conditions and a cure that would be available to everyone within a year. Any oncologist worth their salt will tell you that a lot of promising therapies fall short in human trials. According to a recent study, only 3.4% of cancer medications succeed in reaching the market.
What People Are Saying
The far right started to promote the upbeat title about 12 hours after the Jerusalem Post tweeted a link to the article. Jacob Wohl, a pro-Trump Twitter troll, first posted it, and then Glenn Beck, a conservative political analyst, quickly added his own ego-boosting flourish. “A TOTAL cure for cancer,” I said, “will happen by 2030, as we have hoped and prayed.”
Fox News had its own report by Tuesday morning. A forceful email from a New York oncology expert who termed AEBi’s claim likely to be “yet another in a long series of specious, reckless, and ultimately terrible false promises for cancer patients” was included in the story’s caveats. However, the Jerusalem Post’s original story’s formula was essentially unchanged in the grabby headline used by Fox, and it was imitated by similar stories that appeared on local TV news segments from Philadelphia to Melbourne, Australia.
The Jerusalem Post’s research served as the foundation for the positive versions published by the New York Post and Forbes, while many major news organisations chose to ignore the subject. But within a day, both websites had published brand-new, significantly less positive stories in which they (gasp!) spoke with cancer specialists. In reality, Forbes released two. Experts Decry Israeli Team’s Claims That They Have Found the Cure for Cancer, read one by the author of the original report, and “An Israeli Company Claims That They Will Have a Cure for Cancer in a Year,” read another. Don’t trust them.
In the quickly changing world of online journalism, such course correction is neither rare nor sinister. However, as internet experts can confirm, attempts to stop the spread of false information online are less successful. Most fake news articles may go viral because of fury, but when it comes to information regarding our health, individuals are typically driven by a more positive inclination. In one examination of how health news items are disseminated through social networks, Hyun Suk Kim, a communications researcher at Ohio State University, concluded that “Positivity looms larger in choosing both what to read and what to share.”
Therefore, the “Cancer Cured!” article will spread more widely and more quickly than the “Cancer Still Sucks” post. For instance: The original Forbes piece earned 1,635 likes, 821 retweets, and 47 replies after it was tweeted. The tweet that was published a day later and announced a 180-degree change in tone has only gotten four replies, 30 retweets, and 61 likes so far.
Why It Matters
It’s simpler than ever to be an uncritical information consumer because to social media. The continual scrolling is practically intended to promote slothful thought. As harmful content floods social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, individuals are desperate for a lifesaver of good news. Cancer is a common enemy when life online feels like a constant war between different parties, sexes, races, classes, and even generations. A message that cancer is curable could be an outreach to a sick friend or relative on the other side of the social divide. Or it might just give you the chance to think for one precious second that the cells in your body aren’t already moving uncontrollably toward mutation and death.
The sad fact behind the pervasive cancer cure message, however, cannot be altered by any amount of armchair philosophical debate. Selling false hope is unethical.