(I’m Atlanta bound on business and pleasure, but I’ll have significant downtime. With some luck and if my laptop doesn’t explode, it should seem like I never left.)
1. Not unethical, just stupid. I would have warned everyone in advance that I was going to be experimenting with the layout, but I didn’t know it myself. There was a surprise upgrade offer from WordPress that was too good to pass up, but I assumed (Felix Unger: “When you assume, you make an ass of u and me!” that the blog wouldn’t change until I changed it. Nope: the second I clicked on the payment button, the design blew up and was unreadable. Again, my apologies. And also again, this may not be the final design. I’ll be experimenting while I’m in Georgia.
2. But would they let Will Smith play Bill Jenkins? Bill Jenkins died last month, and naturally the news media paid little attention. He was an African-American scientist who was working as a statistician at the United States Public Health Service in the Sixties when learned of the horrific Tuskegee study, one of the worst ethical breaches in the history of U.S. medicine. The federal government deceived hundreds of black men in Macon County, Alabama into thinking that their cases of syphilis wer being treated when they were not. The researchers were investigating what unchecked syphilis would do to the human body. The black men were being used as human guinea pigs, without their informed consent.
Appalled by the study’s unethical and cruel design, Jenkins spoke to his supervisor, who told him, “Don’t worry about it.” The supervisor was, in fact, monitoring the study. Jenkins defied him and wrote an article about the study that he shared with doctors and journalists. Nobody appeared to care. The study, which began in 1932 , continued through 1972, when another health service scientist exposed it and got it shut down.
Jenkins was haunted by the research and his inability to end it. He went back to school to train as an epidemiologist. The Times reveals the rest of the story:
“He would go on to devote himself to trying to reduce disease and illness among African Americans and other people of color, in part by recruiting more such people into the public health professions.
He was one of the first researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recognize how dramatically AIDS was affecting black men. He helped organize the first conference on AIDS in underserved neighborhoods and became the C.D.C.’s director of AIDS prevention for minorities.
And for 10 years he oversaw the government’s Participants Health Benefits Program, which provides free lifetime medical care to the men of the Tuskegee study and their eligible family members.”
3. Dog show ethics. (This is late, and I apologize to everyone, dogs included.) Lesson: even dogs have conflicts of interest. Continue reading