Category Archives: Health and Medicine

Ethics Alarms’ All-Time Greatest Hits

AllTimeGreatestHits

I am listing these because one of the past posts that keep drawing readers is going nuts today: the 2013 essay about the horrible Wanetta Gibson, who sent Brian Banks, a young man with a bright future to prison by falsely accusing him of rape when she was 15. If anyone has any idea why this would be, let me know; as far as I can find out, there are no new developments in the case.

It is gratifying that so many Ethics Alarms posts continue to find new readers. Here are the top ten that have “legs,” and my assessment of why.

1. The Rationalizations List. That’s no surprise, since I link to it so frequently, and it is also frequently updated.

2. Wanetta Gibson Is Even Worse Than We Thought

3.The Amazing Mouthwash Deception: Helping Alcoholics Relapse For Profit. I am proud of this one. The use of mouthwash by alcoholics is epidemic, yet now, as in 2010 when I wrote this, almost nobody who isn’t a drunk is likely to know it. This makes it easy for closeted alcoholics to hide their illness, and continue to harm themselves by gulping 54 proof liquor out of various convenient containers or their caps, which are coincidentally shaped like shot glasses. Incredibly, the Ethics Alarms post is still one of the few references on this problem on the web. As you will read, I think the makers of mouthwash intentionally keep it this way, because the alcoholic market is huge.

I regularly receive thanks from family members of alcoholics, who tell me that reading this post led to their discovering that a loved oned had relapsed. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Education, Family, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Workplace

“Code Black” Glosses Over A Medical Ethics Imperative

Code Black

In TV’s medical drama “Code Black‘s” episode “Diagnosis of Exclusion,” we were plunged, as is too often the case in such shows, into a freak situation that might not occur in any U.S. hospital for a century, but that somehow happens on TV routinely.

A lunatic stalker named Gordon (Jesse Bradford) tried to rape doctor Malaya Pineda (Melanie Chandra) in the hospital garage, after stabbing a hospital administrator, perhaps fatally. Dr. Pineda fought back, the stalker stabbed her in the stomach, and then mild-mannered Dr. Angus Leighton (Harry Ford) arrived in time to pull the stalker off of his wounded friend and save her life. In the struggle that ensued, crazy Gordon was stabbed in the neck with his own knife.

This was presented in flashback, in the form of an official inquiry where Dr. Leighton explained that he told the stalker not to pull out his knife, but he did anyway, causing uncontrollable bleeding. “Maybe I could have done more but, I was out of my mind,” Angus explains. Leighton says he tried to stop the bleeding as he screamed for help. By the time the paramedics got the murderous patient into the ER, he was beyond saving.

Ahhh, but that’s not exactly what happened, we learn! First we saw Angus’s older brother, also a doctor, tell him that he did the right thing, that Gordon tried to kill two women that day and would have gone on to kill more if Angus hadn’t acted as he did.

Wait, what? Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Bioethics, Character, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

From A Proud Abortion Defender, An Inconvenient Truth….

Snake eating its tail

A New York lawyer named Janice Mac Avoy gifted the Washington Post with an op-ed that was supposed to be a powerful brief for abortion. Viewing it as someone who is deeply conflicted about the ethics of abortion, which is to say, someone who is objective and who didn’t make up his mind first and then look for rationalizations to support that position, I recognized it as a perfect example of why abortion advocates still haven’t made a strong enough case for me, and perhaps why they can’t.

I am still surprised, somehow, when lawyers, like Mac Avoy, display poor reasoning skills. I shouldn’t be, I know: I’ve known plenty of dumb lawyers, even rich and successful dumb lawyers. I suppose I am hostage to the mythology of law school, that professors take students whose “minds are much,’ to quote Professor Kingsfield, and transform those minds into whirring computers of emotion- and bias- free rationality. Unfortunately, mush in, mush out tends to be reality.

Mac Avoy places her own mind in the mush column immediately, with her title “I’m a successful lawyer and mother, because I had an abortion.” This shows her adoption of the classic logical fallacy Post hoc ergo propter hoc, or “After this, thus because of this.” The statement is factually nonsense, and her column takes off from there.

Some highlights:

1. She writes…

“In spring 1981, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. I was about to become the first person in my family to graduate from high school. I had a scholarship to college, and I planned to go on to law school. I was determined to break a cycle of poverty and teenage pregnancy that had shaped the lives of the previous three generations of women in my family — all mothers by age 18. Then, just before graduation, I learned I was pregnant. Knowing that I wasn’t ready to be a mother, I had a friend drive me to a Planned Parenthood clinic, where I had an abortion.”

Pop quiz: What crucial piece of information is glossed over, indeed strangely omitted, from that account? Mac Avoy “was determined to break a cycle of poverty and teenage pregnancy” —so determined and laser focused on the life goal that she suddenly woke up pregnant! How did that happen? Apparently, despite her representation to the contrary, she was not sufficiently determined that she was willing to refuse  to engage in the exact and only conduct that could foil her intent, and that she knew could foil her intent.

I’m not arguing that a teenage mistake of judgment should derail a life, but I am pointing out that to ignore that personal conduct, as Mac Avoy does, and pretend that pregnancy in every case is some unavoidable random tragedy like a rape or incest, is self-serving and intellectually dishonest, and like most pro-abortion rhetoric, avoids the key issues that make abortion a difficult ethical problem.

2. She writes… Continue reading

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Filed under Bioethics, Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Rights

Just in Time For The NFL Championship Games, Football Fans…

NFL brains

In his interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, former NFL star wide receiver Antwaan Randle El revealed that at the age of  36, he can barely walk down stairs, and his mind is failing:

“I ask my wife things over and over again, and she’s like, ‘I just told you that. I’ll ask her three times the night before and get up in the morning and forget. Stuff like that. I try to chalk it up as I’m busy, I’m doing a lot, but I have to be on my knees praying about it, asking God to allow me to not have these issues and live a long life. I want to see my kids raised up. I want to see my grandkids.”

The odds are against him. Resaerchers believe that a majority of NFL players suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a form of brain damage caused by repeated head trauma.  CTE was at the center of the film “Concussion,” as well as the documentary that inspired it, “League of Denial,} about the NFL’s efforts to deny and obscure that fact it was slowly killing its players….for entertainment. And money.

Randle El says of the game he now wishes he had never played:

“There’s no correcting it. There’s no helmet that’s going to correct it. There’s no teaching that’s going to correct it. It just comes down to it’s a physically violent game. Football players are in a car wreck every week.”

Immediately after this story aired on CNN this morning, the network cut to an upbeat, exited preview of this weekend’s AFC NFL  championship. It was chilling.

Has there ever been a greater irrational, irresponsible, ethics disconnect in our society?

Enjoy the games…

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Sports, U.S. Society, Workplace

Comment Of The Day (2): “The Strange Case Of The Unwanted Triplet”

infant

Beth’s  thoughtful Comment of the Day is only tangentially a comment on the Ethics Alarms post about the surrogate mother who balked at aborting one third of the triplets she was carrying. It was really a comment on a comment made to the author of the previous Comment of the Day on the same post, as J. Jonah Jameson described his own experience as a father who employed a surrogate. JJJ was asked why he chose the expensive and risky surrogate route rather than adoption. That question inspired Beth’s Comment of the Day.

Here it is; I’ll be back at the end.

“Why didn’t you adopt a child that needed a family?”

As a woman who battled infertility in the past, and have many friends who did the same, along with others who intentionally became single parents, used surrogates, or have or are trying to adopt a baby, let me say that this is the absolute worst question you can ever ask somebody going through this process. As you pointed out, you are not trying to be judgmental, but you should never ask this.

Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Bioethics, Character, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Etiquette and manners, Family, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine

Comment of the Day (1), on Surrogate Ethics: “The Strange Case Of The Unwanted Triplet”

surrogate-motherIt’s very thoughtful of Ethics Alarms readers to provide such high level content so I have a chance of completing the 2015 Ethics Alarms Awards before March. I am awash in potential Comments of the Day all of a sudden, and this is the first of nesting COTDs, both inspired by the recent post on the surrogate with gestating triplets who is blocking the attempt of the biological father to abort Eenie, Meenie, or Miney, he doesn’t care which.

New commenter J. Jonah Jameson—presumably not really Peter Parker’s employer—submitted a helpful personal story that puts much of that drama in perspective. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, The Strange Case Of The Unwanted Triplet:

I am the biological father of a child born of a surrogate mother. I’m sure ResurrectedToday is correct that the father fully knew that there was a chance of triplets. But the surrogate knew the same thing, and I’m almost 100% certain that she agreed in advance that she would have an abortion if the father requested it. (If not, then there are a lot of lawyers, doctors and other professionals who did not do their job.) Either she changed her mind, or she never really intended to abide by that agreement.

I can say a few things about my own experience:

1. There were a lot of people involved in the process: me, the surrogate, the donor, the three lawyers representing us, the doctors, and the psychologists and social workers at the lawyers’ and doctors’ offices. In almost every conversation that I had with any of these people, the subject of multiple births was discussed. Everybody involved understood clearly that there was a very high possibility of twins, triplets or even more.

Continue reading

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Filed under Bioethics, Business & Commercial, Character, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement

Epilogue: The Boo-Boo Hoax, Blues Blindness, and Trust

The comments on the boo-boo hoax post have me so upset that I can't see this...

The comments on the boo-boo hoax post have me so upset that I can’t see this…

Every now and then, and it is never on a post that I am especially keen on or that I expect to catch fire, a link to an Ethics Alarms essay is suddenly being clicked on by a lot of people who have no interest in ethics, but a particular interest in a topic I happened to stumble into, as I am wont to do. Usually these waves of traffic contribute nothing of substance to our ethics colloquy, produce no new regular readers, and  they depress me, as did the so-called “Instalanche” of a few years back when Glenn Reynolds deigned to link to a post.  A bigger group of nasty right wing jerks I have never encountered before or since: I lost a bit of respect for Professor Reynolds that day (His avid followers maintained it was ethical to spread a web rumor that Harry Reid was a pederast in retribution for Reid’s “Romney hasn’t paid taxes” lie. It’s not.)

The current ‘-lanche’ has arrived courtesy of my post of a couple days back about an unlabeled hoax study published by The Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, a (formerly) respectable scientific journal. Of the few new readers who have commented, most have distinguished themselves by making the typical threadbare rationalization used for all web hoaxes, to wit:  “Anyone who didn’t figure out it was a gag isn’t as smart as I am.” If these people typify the ethical acumen of scholarly journal readers, we have trouble my friends, right here in River City.

See, Brilliant Advanced Degree-holders, the problem with respectable journals (if there are such things) publishing inside jokes without proper labeling is that the false studies are read and believed by journalists, who spread the misinformation like an oil slick over the culture and public consciousness. It doesn’t matter if you got a chuckle out of it; what matters is that a lot of people were made to believe false information, and it is the purveyors of that false information, not the oh so gullible and ignorant victims of it, who are at fault. Continue reading

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Filed under Health and Medicine, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Professions, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology