Ethics Alarms’ All-Time Greatest Hits


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.

4. Workplace Ethics: 62 Things That Are Legal, But 22 Of Them Are Unethical As is often true, I had no idea this one would be so popular, and I am still not sure. It regularly is one of the most read posts of the day.

5. Unethical Advertising Slogan of the Month: Reebok I have no clue why this outdated essay is clicked on so often. Theories welcome.

6. The Ethics of Workplace Personality Tests.

7. A Blogger Asks: “Why Can’t I Date My Professor After the Grades Are In?” Student-teachers affairs are clearly common and popular. (And unethical.)

8. Presidents Day Ethics: The Presidents of the United States on Ethics and Leadership. You know my interest in all things Presidential. This post gets a big bump every Presidents Day, but it is regularly sought out.

9. UNICEF’s Unethical War Against International Adoption. The post is six years old, and still read by the many parents investigating international adoptions.

10. The Ethics of Letting a Lying Defendant Testify. This is the most read of my many legal ethics posts, and that makes sense, since it is a cornerstone of legal ethics and Bill of Rights principles that seems counter-intuitive to many.


17 thoughts on “Ethics Alarms’ All-Time Greatest Hits

  1. Based on the comments, I suspect that the Gibson story is being googled because it probably comes up in a lot of anti-feminist blogs or YouTube videos. The extreme positions and dangers of what is now called feminism are alarming a lot of people, and anti-feminist sentiment is growing in rationalist communities.

    The backlash against the “listen and believe” feminists is overdue and frankly not strong enough. Unfortunately criticism of same also attracts some plain old misogynists, which the feminist extremists point at to justify more censorship of anyone who disagrees with them. And THAT fires up free-speech lovers and rationalists online to fight back even harder.

    The fight has ratcheted up so that some prominent online critics of feminism have been sued, petitioned against at the U.N, had their employers harassed by Twitter mobs, etc. For mocking feminism and hurting feelings. It probably won’t end until the feminists influence politicians enough to get the outright bans on online criticism they’re clamoring for.

  2. Re #3, I just posted a list of 11 non-alky mouthwashes at the original site: it was under this not-exactly-hard-to-find link, which had yet another valid argument for anyone who uses the alcohol-bearing rinses:


    I recently read that mouthwashes with alcohol cause dry mouth, which in turn can result in bad breath after the initial clean, fresh taste of the mouthwash wears off.”

    By the way, this no-alcohol caveat goes for those hand sanitizers too (not a warning for alcholics though — if the drinker is far enough gone to down the 60% alcohol plus emollients that resembles the taste and texture of cold cream in your beer, it probably makes no difference — the advice is just for the everyday frequent users: Don’t use ’em. Get up and go wash your hands. Without soap (which dries out your skin just like the sanitizers. Unless there is visible soil or heavy grease on your hands, warm (not hot) water and friction will do the trick. And feel better. Save your skin, save your money, and get some exercise (we’re not supposed to sit at the desk more than 20 minutes at a time anyway, Jack).

  3. Theory for number five:
    Women google “cheating on your girlfriend” or some combination that includes those words when they are going through a breakup. Men google the same when they are planning a breakup.

  4. Amazing about alcoholics drinking mouthwash. I remember hearing about Russian soldiers billeted in Cuba during the missile crisis drinking rubbing alcohol because they couldn’t get their vodka, but mouthwash?

    But since there are alcohol free mouthwashes on the market these days (even Listerine has conceded) I have wondered why companies even continue selling that nasty stuff with alcohol in it. Can’t be good for a person’s mouth to have alcohol splashed around in there regularly.

    I first ran across Jack’s work when I googled those American Society of Civil Engineers annual “report cards” on the condition of America’s infrastructure. Needless to say, the grades are LOW. Seemed kind of fishy to me the guys who would benefit greatly from increasing the grades on the report cards are the ones issuing the report card. Jack was the only person I found who was on this issue. I’d give that post at least an honorable mention.

    • Rubbing alcohol will, indeed, kill you. There may be long-term issues from drinking mouthwash, but it’s not dangerous. That’s why the poison label helps keep mouthwash drinkers’ secret.

      • Rubbing alcohol will, indeed, kill you.

        If living in the USSR didn’t kill the person, then after that Russian army training didn’t kill the person…the rubbing alcohol may have been like water flowing down.

    • Engineers have an ethical duty to protect the public, and provide honest advice to clients, regulators, and the public. The report cards represent a professional opinion that the public’s safety and welfare is at risk due to poor maintenance and proactive repair. They are issued by the ASCE, a non-profit, to provide some insulation between consulting firms that would evaluate or design individual assets for a fee on behalf of a public agency, and the overall evaluations calling attention to the dire need for these firms services.

      The very definition of profession relies on its members honesty. Engineers are the only persons qualified to evaluate most infrastructure; they have fuditiary duty to not abuse this specialized knowledge and skill for fraudulent benefit. The whole system falls apart without this sacred trust.

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