Category Archives: Health and Medicine

The Latest Unethical Tactic: Attacking Journalists Who Don’t Actively Try To Promote Hillary Over Trump [UPDATE: Hillary’s Health]

matt-lauer-hillary-clinton

Once the New York Times embraced the rationalization “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford” and announced that journalists had a duty to bias their reporting to block Donald Trump’s election, this result was foretold. It was really foretold in 2008, when the news media first abandoned even the pretense of fairness and objectivity to ensure the election of our first black President.

Matt Lauer, of all people, became the object of furious invective after he hosted a live prime-time forum with Trump and Hillary. He was accused of unfairness, gullibility and even sexism in his handling of the event. His main offenses: not “fact-checking” Trump, as when he said, not for the first time, that he opposed the Iraq invasion from the beginning (he didn’t), and grilling Hillary about her e-mail machinations.

The only way the transcript supports the latter contention is if one is Bernie Sanders and believes Hillary’s “stupid e-mail” is irrelevant. Lauer didn’t spend an inappropriate time on this issue, given what a perfect example it is of Clinton’s Arrogance, deviousness, lack of transparency, and, apparently, incompetence and recklessness.  I’d say he was easy on Hillary: he didn’t mention her sleazy conflicts with Clinton Foundation donors at all, and she is much less adept at spinning that slam-dunk conflict of interest and ethical violation than with her e-mail, which she has been lying about for more than a year. Pro-Clinton news media, which is to say, news media, howled about Lauer not challenging Trump’s thoroughly disproven claim about opposing the Iraq War, but Clinton already had done this, saying, “Now, my opponent was for the war in Iraq. He says he wasn’t. You can go back and look at the record. He supported it. He told Howard Stern he supported it.” Maybe Lauer thought that was enough; it should have been: Trump’s lie on this score has been well-publicized, including here, on Ethics Alarms.

Meanwhile, he did not challenge Clinton on her obviously false claim that emails cannot be considered classified if they do not contain formal classification markings, and worst of all, he did not challenge her unconstitutional call to ban citizens who are placed on a no-fly list from exercising their Second Amendment rights. This is especially important, because this fact isn’t understood by most Americans, and a Presidential candidate advocating defiance of the Constitution is, or should be, a big deal. Never mind, though: Lauer wasn’t supposed to be tough on Hillary. He was only supposed to be hard on Trump, and because he wasn’t “hard enough,” a.k.a., “harder,” a.k.a. “biased like the rest of the mainstream coverage,” then it means that he was incompetent. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Social Media, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump

Not As Empathetic As You Should Be? Blame Tylenol!

Oh no! Uncle Phil overdoes on Tylenol again, and now he wants to vote for Donald Trump!

Oh no! Uncle Phil overdosed on Tylenol again, and now he wants to vote for Donald Trump!

From Salon, reposting from Alternet:

“Researchers from Ohio State University recruited 80 college students as test subjects. Half were told to drink a solution containing 1,000 milligrams of acetaminophen, while the second half were given a placebo drink containing no drugs. After the medication took effect, the two groups were instructed to rate the pain levels of people in eight different fictional situations — all were emotionally or physically traumatic scenarios. One story involved a person forced to deal with a parent’s unexpected death, another a person with a severe stab wound. Researchers found that students who had taken acetaminophen rated the pain levels of the traumatized story characters lower than those who had ingested the placebo liquid.

In another experiment involving 114 students, half drank the acetaminophen solution and the other half were given the placebo. Both groups were then subjected to brief, loud blasts of white noise and asked to rate the pain levels of a fictionalized participant who had experienced the same. Those who had consumed the acetaminophen solution rated both their own pain and the pain of others who experienced the noise lower than those who drank the placebo solution did. In another study section, subjects were shown short videos depicting a person being socially rejected from a group and were asked to rate the level of emotional pain the rejection caused. Here again, the group that drank the acetaminophen-infused liquid rated the pain lower than those who had only ingested the placebo drink.”

Hmmmm.

A few reactions to this:

1. Many news reports on these weird studies summarize the findings as “Common pain-killers can make you less empathetic.” “These findings suggest other people’s pain doesn’t seem as big of a deal to you when you’ve taken acetaminophen,” Dominik Mischkowski, the study’s co-author and a former Ph.D. candidate from Ohio State University, said in a news release.

Says Baldwin Way, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University: “Empathy is important. If you are having an argument with your spouse and you just took acetaminophen, this research suggests you might be less understanding of what you did to hurt your spouse’s feelings.”

I think I know what is going on here. This seems to be one of many ideologically-inspired studies, designed to make the case that those who are privileged and are in less daily distress are naturally less likely to be capable of empathy, and hence have less ethical reactions to the distress of others, including that caused by the conduct of the empathy-impaired. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Health and Medicine, Research and Scholarship

On Hillary’s Health, The Post’s Chris Cillizza Flunks Integrity And Bias Tests

f-minus Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, History, Journalism & Media

Coughing Fit Ethics

From The Daily Caller:

“Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton struggled at an Ohio event Monday with a nearly two minute-long coughing fit.”

From The Washington Post website:

“Clinton jokes about Trump allergy during rally”

As of the time I’m writing this, the New York Times mentions nothing about Clinton’s coughing fit, either on its website, or in its hard copy edition. Not does the Post, which I just had delivered to me despite having cancelled our subscription weeks ago, mention the coughing. None of the major networks covered her coughing fit yesterday.

What’s going on here?

Good question, and not just from the usual ethics analysis perspective, which often starts with this query. What is going on with Hillary?

1. I have no idea. I do know that when I have two-minute coughing fits, it means that I’m sick. It doesn’t mean I’m dying, but if the cough becomes chronic, I see a doctor. Hillary Clinton has been having coughing episodes during speeches and televised appearances for quite some time, though none this severe. However, a Presidential candidate having a coughing fit while speaking is the news item, not the joke she makes to recover. (By the way, that was quick thinking by Hillary, and I admire the quip…unless she had it pre-planned in case she had a coughing fit.).  She is in her late sixties. There are some doubts about her health. A presidential campaign is grueling for anyone; I’m amazed it hasn’t incapacitated a candidate yet. The fact that the conservative, Hillary-hating news media is all over this story is expected, but that doesn’t mean their attention isn’t valid and responsible journalism. The news media has an ethical obligation to investigate and let the public know whether or not a candidate for President is fit, temporarily under the weather, or suffering from some more serious malady that might affect his or her ability to do the job.

2. The initial reaction of most of the mainstream media was to shrug off this story, bury it, or ignore it, while the conservative news media was almost gleefully running with it, especially Drudge, who has been chronicling Hillary’s chronic cough for a long time. MSNBC even cut from its live feed away mid-fit, which is inexcusable, but exactly the kind of reflex Clinton-protecting we are seeing more and more frequently. This is another smoking gun example of the unprofessional and dangerous partisan bias in the media, as well as the reason why  rational Americans should be grateful that there are right-slanting news sources to prevent journalists and liberal politicians collaborating in cover-ups.

3. The comics and celebrities, as well as liberal pundits, are going to look very bad if their mockery of those asking legitimate questions about Clinton ends up being rebutted by facts. They already look bad. Some have equated concerns about Clinton’s health with the Obama birth certificate controversy, coining the term “healthers,” to set up legitimate inquiries for condemnation as bias or derangement. New York Times columnist Frank Bruni submitted a satirical column about suspicions that Hillary has “an 11th toe,” writing…

“I don’t have the medical records. She refuses to release them. But just try to come up with some other explanation for why she’s so infrequently photographed in sandals or flip-flops; why she seldom appears barefoot in public; why, during debates, she keeps her legs, especially the lower halves, tucked carefully behind the lectern…She’s covering something up, and it’s that freakish, disqualifying digit.”

On CBS “Late Night, ” host Stephen Colbert said he was shocked to learn that he has started menopause, using the same method of medical research Clinton critics are basing questions about her health upon: searching the web.

The Clinton health issue on the liberal side is entering Jumbo territory: “Coughing fits? What coughing fits?”

4. The mainstream media’s double standard could not be more glaring. Journalists obsessed over John McCain’s age and his melanoma removal during the 2008 campaign, as they celebrated Obama’s youth and energy. The incidents and circumstantial evidence relating to Hillary Clinton’s health  and suggesting that there may be a problem have reached the point where the question demands a full and aggressive media inquiry. Her serious fall and concussion are well documented. She appears unsteady in many photographs. She uses steps to get into her car. She appears to be avoiding live interviews and press conferences. She used her concussion as an explanation for why she couldn’t remember State protocols for her e-mails. She has coughing fits. It could all add up to nothing, and it could be something. The array raises legitimate doubts, and since we are talking about the Clintons, there is no reason to believe the Hillary’s camp’s reassurances. We know she lies, and that her staff lies for her. The public has a right to know what, if anything, is going on with her health.

5. The conservative website WND has mostly excellent coverage of the coughing fit (and apparently a second Clinton suffered talking to reporters on her plane). It also has statements from several physicians who argue that it is completely legitimate for doctors to raise questions about Clinton’s health. Said one of them, Dr. Jane Orient, M.D., executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons:

“I’m not making a diagnosis. I can look at the video. You can look .For a or a medical professional to simply ignore the evidence would be completely reckless…Meeting someone with these symptoms personally would require a “How are you?” These are not ridiculous questions.”

[UPDATE: I forgot to note, as I intended, that one of the ways the WND story is NOT excellent is that it perpetuates the current false accusation that CNN’s Dr. Drew Pinsky had his show cancelled because he questioned Hillary’s health in a radio interview. The game is classic post hoc ergo propter hoc nonsense: his show’s cancellation was announced after his statement, hence it must have been cancelled because of his statement. Dr. Drew has debunked this himself, though he confirmed that the blowback from CNN after his statement was severe.]

6. Of course they aren’t. But just as some journalists have suggested that the perceived special danger posed by Donald Trump justifies the psychiatric profession diagnosing his supposed mental instability from afar, that same perceived danger seems to be causing journalists to rationalize ignoring troubling health symptoms from his opposition. The reasoning clinician Hal Brown used in his post on the Daily Kos to argue for professionals issuing  opinions regarding Trump’s narcissism applies with even more force to Hillary’s physical symptoms.

7. I don’t know why the anti-Trump news media isn’t eagerly covering Clinton’s health problems. Tim Kaine, bland and wishy-washy as he is, wasn’t a terrible governor of Virginia (where I live). He’s much more trustworthy and honest than Hillary–heck, virtually anyone in public life is. He’d be an easy choice over Trump; I’d even feel better about voting for Hillary knowing that it was likely that she wouldn’t finish her term. Hillary can lose to Trump, who, whatever else one might think about him, always shows energy and appears to be younger than he is, like Ronald Reagan. Watch what happens in the polls when Clinton has a two-minute coughing fit during a debate, and defaults to the same line about being allergic to Trump.

8. Earlier, I wrote about how the bias on both sides of the news media ideological divide made it impossible for someone seeking the truth to know who to believe regarding Hillary Clinton’s health. Well, now there is something we can believe: our eyes.

_________________________

Sources: WMD, The Gateway Pundit, BizPac Review, NBC News, ABC 

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Filed under Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Jumbo, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump

Health And Survival Rationing Ethics

cointoss

Beginning in 2012, Dr. Lee Daugherty Biddison, a critical care physician at Johns Hopkins and some colleagues have held public forums around Maryland to solicit the public’s opinions about how life-saving medical assistance should be distributed when there are too many desperately ill patients and not enough resources. The exercise was part of the preparation  for Biddenson’s participation in preparing official recommendations for state agencies that  might end up  as national guidelines regarding when doctors should remove one patient from a ventilator to save another who might have a better chance of surviving, or whether the young should have priority over the old.

Ethically, this is pure ends justifying the means stuff. The Golden Rule is useless—How would you like to be treated? I’d want to be left on the ventilator, of course!–and Kantian ethics break down, since Immanuel forbade using human life to achieve even the best objectives…like saving a human life. Such trade-offs of life for life (or lives) is the realm of utilitarianism, and an especially brutal variety….so brutal that I doubt that it is ethics at all.

When Dr. Biddenson justifies his public forums by saying that he wants to include current societal values in his life-for-a-life calculations, she is really seeking current biases, because that’s all they are. On the Titanic, it was women and children first, not because it made societal sense to allow some of the most productive and vibrant minds alive to drown simply because they had a Y chromosome, but because that’s just the way it was. Old women and sick children got on lifeboats;  young men, like emerging mystery writer Jacque Futrelle (and brilliant young artist Leonardo DiCaprio), went down with the ship. That’s not utilitarianism. That’s sentimentalism.

The New York Times article mostly demonstrates that human beings are incapable of making ethical guidelines, because Kant was right: when you start trading one life for another, it’s inherently unethical, even if you have no choice but to do it. Does it make societal sense to take away Stephen Hawking’s ventilator to help a drug-addicted, habitual criminal survive? Well, should violating drug laws sentence a kid to death? TILT! There are no ethical answers, just biased decisions. Continue reading

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Filed under Bioethics, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, History, Professions, Rights, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “The Amazing Mouthwash Deception: Helping Alcoholics Relapse For Profit”

There is an Ethics Alarms post “going viral” right now, at least as viral as any post on an ethics blog is likely to go. For two weeks now, my post at the end of July about how the “urban legends” site Snopes had descended into  dishonest, spinning, fact-distorting partisan/ left “factchecking” hackery has lapped all others here, and been shared to record levels on Facebook (nearing 11,000 shares) and Reddit.

This is nice, of course. It has brought a few (though not many) new commenters to the blog, and presumably more readers who stayed to peruse other topics. It has made August 2016, usually a fairly dead month, the most heavily trafficked month in Ethics Alarms annals. The post alerted some people to why Snopes is untrustworthy, though not, apparently, the Washington Post, which cited it as authority just a few days ago. It also prompted, on Reddit and Facebook, several thousand smug “this is not news, I’ve known this for years” comments. Where were your blog post, jerks?

The post’s wide circulation through the web also made me aware that a conspiracy theory holding that Democrats and the Hillary Corrupted maintain a team of attack commenters who go to blogs and attempt to muddy the waters when the truth about Clinton threatens to break through the denial dam might be accurate. I have received four or five almost identical comments on that post attempting to deny my dissection of Snopes’ pathetic attempt to prove that Hillary didn’t defend a child rapist, didn’t discredit his young victim in the process, didn’t know he was guilty when she did it, and didn’t laugh about the case in a recorded interview. None of the four commenters  read all of my post, which echoed a previous one in pointing out, as I always do, that a lawyer defending a criminal is not unethical, that the attacks on Hillary for doing so were ignorant and unfair, and that Hillary Clinton has nothing to apologize for in this case. Never mind: all four of these commenters ( and some others which never made it onto the blog) shifted into similar boilerplate language claiming I was attacking her too,  and preceded to repeat Snopes’ dishonest “factchecking” as if the documentation of its falsity I presented in the post didn’t exist.

Nonetheless, the Snopes revelation was not the Ethics Alarms post I would have chosen to “go viral.” There have been many essay in the last six year that I was, and am, especially proud of and believe were original, perceptive and important, and that have been barely read by anyone, never linked to or shared, and that have had all the impact of a shell thrown into the surf. How I wish my warning to the Republican Party , for example, urging it not to permit Donald Trump to participate in the primaries, had received similar attention. Not a single editorial board or pundit saw the peril looming, or at least  they didn’t write or talk about it if they did, because having The Donald spouting his inanities would be good copy and “fun.”

One such post dates back to the first full year of Ethics Alarms: The Amazing Mouthwash Deception: Helping Alcoholics Relapse For Profit, from August 2010. In six years, it has amassed about the same number of views that the Snopes piece amassed in half a month. Yet the topic, how mouthwash manufacturers profit significantly by hiding the widespread use of their product by alcoholics who use mouthwash to conceal their destructive disease from family members and co-workers, is barely mentioned  on the web—a few places, and almost all of them since the post. Still, Congress hasn’t held hearings, regulatory agencies haven’t noticed, and the products still carry warnings that fool non-alcoholics into believing that the stuff is poison, so nobody drinks it. Lives could be saved, marriages rescued, and endangered businesses might survive, if what I wrote was generally known

I’ve done the original research and put the problem out there. At least I’ve tried, and I will continue to write about the problem, which I have learned about first hand.

My efforts  haven’t been completely futile. I have received some gratifying comments and off-site e-mails from family members who read the article, discovered that a loved one was secret drinker, and got them help. I have also received a few responses that confirmed my work, though none quite like this one from new reader Dave, an alcoholic himself.

Here is his remarkable and  cryptic  Comment of the Day on the post, The Amazing Mouthwash Deception: Helping Alcoholics Relapse For Profit. Is it intentional irony? Is it sarcasm? Is it support, in the form of criticism? You decide:

Halfway through your article I decided it would be a good idea to go to shoppers and grab myself a bottle. I’d been so triggered today, only being a week sober prior. It’s great, you know, the mouthwash deception as you call it. I spend roughly $3.50 on a bottle of Life brand yellow mouthwash and it gets me radically twisted, with zero hangover. So not only does it make it easier for me to be a functioning alcoholic based on its inexpensiveness and zero hangover qualities, it is also amazingly convenient in that within 10 minutes I have three different 24 hour grocery stores I can go to in order to get a bottle.

Alcoholism is a shitty disease, believe me, I have lost much at the expense of it.

Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising, The Internet

Is “The Goldwater Rule” Necessary?

Barry Goldwater

From an  edict handed down last week by the head of the American Psychiatric Association:

“Since 1973, the American Psychiatric Association and its members have abided by a principle commonly known as “the Goldwater Rule,” which prohibits psychiatrists from offering opinions on someone they have not personally evaluated. The rule is so named because of its association with an incident that took place during the 1964 presidential election. During that election, Fact magazine published a survey in which they queried some 12,356 psychiatrists on whether candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater, the GOP nominee, was psychologically fit to be president. A total of 2,417 of those queried responded, with 1,189 saying that Goldwater was unfit to assume the presidency.

While there was no formal policy in place at the time that survey was published, the ethical implications of the Goldwater survey, in which some responding doctors even issued specific diagnoses without ever having examined him personally, became immediately clear. This large, very public ethical misstep by a significant number of psychiatrists violated the spirit of the ethical code that we live by as physicians, and could very well have eroded public confidence in psychiatry… I can understand the desire to get inside the mind of a Presidential candidate. I can also understand how a patient might feel if they saw their doctor offering an uninformed medical opinion on someone they have never examined. A patient who sees that might lose confidence in their doctor, and would likely feel stigmatized by language painting a candidate with a mental disorder (real or perceived) as “unfit” or “unworthy” to assume the Presidency.

Simply put, breaking the Goldwater Rule is irresponsible, potentially stigmatizing, and definitely unethical.”

Naturally, as he is significantly responsible for much that is going haywire in the culture—CNN experts using words like “dick” on the air, a Fox News star and a Wall Street Journal editor calling each other names on Twitter, the New York Times announcing that it no longer is even pretending to follow its own ethics code—this can be partially placed at the feet of Donald Trump, though Ann Althouse’s suspicions that it is really designed to protect Hillary Clinton cannot be discarded.

I agree that professional groups that use their collective weight and credibility to assume greater influence in political matters than their biases and relevant expertise warrant are abusing their positions. I agree that psychiatrists pronouncing public officials mentally unfit for office without the same kind of examination that they would demand with a patient is a dubious practice, ripe for abuse. Still, I wonder if the situation with Trump doesn’t pose a different problem. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Leadership, Professions, Research and Scholarship