I have a friend who hosts Ayurveda seminars and Reiki healing sessions. Another friend frequently posts links denying climate change and evolution.
Maintaining cordial relationships with these people is easy because I compartmentalize. I may be a skeptic, but I am also a relative and friend. I am not so shallow or insecure in my beliefs that I would forsake friend or kin just because they are into New Age or Old Time Religion. This works both ways, as the other parties maintain a similar mindset. I may see them as a little too credulous, they may see me as a joyless cynic, but we still get along. This agreeing-to-disagree also occurs between me and members of my circle who rave about their psychics, who are convinced their father can dowse, and who believe ghost hunters are landing their prey.
Alas, there has been one outlier. I was unfriended by a fellow who became consumed by naturopathy, the idea that the body can heal itself if we can just find the right plant, fruit, leaf, twig, or extract. He also became convinced that modern medicine was a fraud and that Big Pharma was hiding the cure for cancer. This conspiracy theory and his love of naturopathy is oxymoronic. Since naturopathy teaches that nature has all the answers, it is contradictory to think that traditional laboratory research, double blind studies, and the Scientific Method would yield the cure that is being hid.
After unfriending me, he sent me another friend request, which I accepted. He followed with an apology about how he had immediately regretted hitting the unfriend button and about what a sour mood he had been in. I can only surmise that the regret subsided and the sourness returned, because another unfriending followed. There had been no personal attack or anger on my part leading to this. I had merely calmly laid out why the idea of a suppressed cancer cure was unfounded.
By this time, he had grown even more unhinged, and he may have thought I was part of the conspiracy. I have worked in journalism and am employed by a federal agency. And media and government are two of the three pillars in this evil cover-up, along with the pharmaceutical industry. Furthermore, I am a skeptic blogger and many theorists feel we are sock puppets for Monsanto or Big Pharma.
Whether I am part of a conspiracy or not, here is why such a cover-up wouldn’t work. First, there are many types of cancer, with many different causes. The idea that one panacea would cover all of them is untenable.
The most frequent argument from the hidden-cure crowd is that pharmaceutical companies would rather keep selling pills and injections that mitigate a symptom rather than come up with a cure that would cause them to lose customers. However, not all research is done by companies. Universities and charities are also seeking a cure, aided by funding from the American Cancer Society and other similar groups.
Besides, the idea that there is money to be lost by finding a cure in laughable. Selling a tablet or vaccine that renders one immune to cancer would be highly profitable. It would also be consistent with pharmaceutical industry practice. Medical research has given us antibiotics and cures for polio and smallpox. The hidden-cure theory requires believing that pharmaceutical companies let these cures out while suppressing one for cancer.
Further, despite this all being allegedly controlled by Big Pharma, the pharmaceutical industry is not a monolithic monster. There is more than one drug company and they are in competition. There would be no reason for Johnson & Johnson to hide a cure in order to protect Pfizer.
If many other drug companies are selling a lifelong regimen which treats cancer symptoms, and one company alone has the cure, that company need only set the cure’s price below the cost of the treatment, and it will make a fortune while driving competitors from the market.
And if the entire pharmaceutical industry is in on it, that’s even more problematic. Each company would have trust their competitors, and every current and former researcher and executive, to keep silent. The conspirators would also have to know where every independent researcher works, be able to monitor every moment of research, and kill or bribe any scientist who finds the cure.
Another sizable obstacle to the notion of a hidden cure is that medical researchers and their loved ones also get cancer. Heads of state, CEOs, and pharmaceutical executives die of the disease just like janitors, teachers, and carpenters. For the conspiracy to work, those who get cancer while engaging in the cover-up would have to willingly endure a slow, agonizing death so their evil heir apparent can continue to operate.
It’s not that drug company executives cannot be cruel. Former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli preferred increasing his already massive wealth to saving lives. This extreme narcissism, however, dictates that his needs come before others. The hidden-cure theory, meanwhile, holds that not just one Martin Shkreli exists, but 5,000 of them, with each putting aside their borderline sociopathy in order to continue the ruse. These people are so selfish they hide a cure in order to benefit, yet are so selfless they die needlessly and painfully to protect the conspiracy.
Also impossibly evil, yet somehow intensely loyal, are cancer researchers. They would have to decline the massive fame, adulation, and riches that would come with ending a disease synonymous with fear and death. They must forsake the name branding, Nobel Prizes, and hospitals being named in their honor. Being mentioned in a revered tone reserved for Einstein, Newton, and Curie would be secondary to keeping a secret.
Finally, these theories usually consider governments and pharmaceutical companies as the two perpetrators. Yet countries with socialized medicine would substantially reduce their health care costs if cancer were wiped out. The theory also holds in extreme contempt the intelligence of insurance company executives, who continue to pay for expensive treatments that are superfluous if there is a cure out there. Yet these executives are unable to find the cure even though any naturopathic conspiracy theorist with access to YouTube can do it.
Much as we would love to think there is a cure out there that could be found any minute, there is not. Maybe someday there will be, which would be wonderful for all of us because cancer equally targets skeptics, energy healers, and creationists.