Ethics Quiz: The Dying Patient’s Denial

Let’s start off today’s ethics adventures with a quiz…

The New York Times this morning has an odd choice for its placeholder in the spot typically reserved for editorials: an essay by Dr. Daniela J. Lamas, a pulmonary and critical-care physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The piece endorses lying to patients “for their own good.” The op-ed—that’s not what the times calls such essays any more, but that’s what it is and they are—is fine, raising a legitimate ethics issue for readers to ponder, hence the use of it here as an ethics quiz. The placement and timing is suspicious, however.

This could be called a “conspiracy theory,” I suppose, but such theories are germinated by a genuine and deserved development of distrust. Since I do not the trust the Times to report the news objectively and ethically, but believe with good reason that it manipulates its reporting and choice of opinion pieces to advance a progressive and usually partisan agenda, I suspect that this op-ed was given such prominent placement to plant the idea that doctors—like You Know Who—and health care “experts” are justified in using incomplete facts, false certainty and disinformation when communicating to the public regarding the pandemic, vaccines, masks and the rest for “the Greater Good.”

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And Yet ANOTHER Progressive Hero Is Ambushed With Tough Questioning By A Mainstream Media Journalist! This Time, It’s Dr. Fauci…

Breakthru q

Good.

Nobody deserves this more.

On CNBC’s “Closing Bell,” host Sara Eisen confronted Fauci about the inconvenient phenomenon of breakthrough cases of the Wuhan virus, where fully vaccinated people get sick anyway, with some requiring hospitalization. She asked if the government is being “too casual about the limitations of the vaccine.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped tracking breakthrough cases in May. It has kept track of the vaccinated who have been hospitalized or died: as of Sept. 27, the CDC reported 22,115 such patients. However, as Eisen insisted, that’s just part of the story.

There’s nothing like personal experience to prompt a journalist to start paying attention: she was i9nfected despite being fully vaccinated, and claimed that the virus had recently spread through her “entire family.” Fauci’s answer was evasive: he cited data indicating that unvaccinated people still remain most vulnerable to hospitalization or death from COVID, and the vaccination protects most people from a severe outcome if they so get the Wuhan virus. He told Eisen she should not “confuse” the “overwhelming benefits of the protection of vaccines” with occurrences of breakthrough cases. That, however, wasn’t what she asked. What she asked was how the CDC can be so confident about the effectiveness of the vaccine if it doesn’t record how many vaccinated people still get infected.

It’s obvious, isn’t it? The CDC doesn’t want to have to deal with vaccine skeptics using the data to justify not getting vaccinated. As has been a recurring phenomenon during the pandemic, the government in general and Fauci in particular refuse to provide information when they think the public will refuse to follow their directives if they get the facts. In response to Fauci’s huminahumina dodge, Eisen asked, “How do we know that [breakthrough cases are] happening to a small proportion and how do we know that they are tending to be mild?”

The answer is “You don’t.” Maybe the accurate answer from Fauci would be , “That’s for me to know and you to find out!” But this is what he said:

So, in answer to your very appropriate question about if you get vaccinated and you get infected, is there less of a chance that you will be transmitting it to someone who is unvaccinated or someone who is vulnerable? The chances of doing that are diminished by being vaccinated and even further diminished, according to preliminary data we’ll wait to see the real fundamental core of the data, but it looks like that extra added of protection from a boost will be very valuable.”

Her question was indeed very appropriate, but that’s not what she asked! Even his evasive answer wasn’t accurate. The CDC has not said the chances of people transmitting the virus have “diminished” if you are fully vaccinated. The CDC says the opposite of that: fully vaccinated people can transmit the virus as readily as unvaccinated people, though not for as long a period.

Only sarcasm will suffice. I just can’t imagine why so many Americans refuse to trust the directives of health officials regarding vaccinations. What have they ever done to make us doubt them?

_________________________

Source: CNBC

From The “O What A Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practise To Deceive” Files: Matthew Dowd, Double Agent

Dowd gotcha

Mainstream media has long relished the unethical tactic of employing alleged Republicans and conservatives as “balance” on their biased panels, when the individuals are really integrity-free chameleons, ready to change colors for a buck. It’s a particularly odious trick: the audience is led to believe that because the particular talking head is criticizing his or her own “side,” the typical majority of partisan Democrats and progressive shills in the discussion must be “right.” CNN’s dim-bulb anti-Trump hack Ana Navarro is one of these double agents (but she’s Hispanic and female, so her obvious deficits don’t matter); Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post columnist who is now MSNBC’s go-to guest when character assassination of a GOP leader is required, is another. Kellyanne Conway’s husband George also is on the list.

Matthew Dowd is in a special category. He was a ruthless Bush political operative who found a lucrative new gig by playing the “Once Evil Republican Who Has Seen The Light,” usually on ABC. Recognizing the power of the cognitive dissonance scale as W’s popularity declined, Dowd became the alleged conservative voice on TV policy panels that somehow always agreed—anti-Bush, pro-Obama, anti-Trump.

Now he’s announced himself as a candidate for lieutenant governor of Texas…what’s this? As a Democrat? But…but… all these years we’ve been told that Dowd was a Republican! That’s how we knew his criticism of other Republicans was sincere! What’s going on here?

Dowd expected a friendly softball interview when he went on CNN’s “New Day” yesterday to discuss his candidacy. After all, he’s a Democrat. To his shock and awe, co-host Brianna Keilar used the opportunity to out the opportunist. It had been reported that Dowd, no fool he, had deleted 270 thousand messages on Twitter before announcing his party flip-flop and quest for office. Gee, why would he do that? It’s a mystery! So Keilar decided to press him on it…

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Friday Ethics Potpourri, 9/24/2021: On PBS, Boeing, A Political Hack Law Dean, And Caring

Lawn sign

Many thanks to reader and commenter Jeff for bringing that lawn sign to my attention. It’s available here. I wish I had thought of it; one of these days I’ll get around to making a “Bias Makes You Stupid” T-shirt as an Ethics Alarms accessory. I would never post such a sign on my lawn for the same reason I object to the virtue-signaling signs in my neighborhood: I didn’t ask to my neighbors’ political views thrust in my face, and I don’t inflict mine of them. However, if a someone living in a house on my cul-de-sac inflicted a “No human being is illegal” missive on their lawn where I had to look at it every day, the sign above would be going up as a response faster than you can say “Jack Robinson,” though I don’t know why anyone would say “Jack Robinson.”

1. Roger Angell on caring…It’s September, and the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees start a three game series tonight with nine games left to the season. It could well determined which of the two teams will go on to the post-season, with a shot at the World Series. The encounter brings back a flood of memories, wonderful and horrible, about previous Sox-Yankee battles of note, including one from 1949, before I was born. I worked with a veteran lawyer at a D.C. association who was perpetually bitter about all things, and all because the Red Sox blew a pennant to New York that year by choking away the final two games of the season. For me, moments like this are reassuring and keep me feeling forever young: as I watch such games, I realize that I am doing and and feeling exactly what I was doing and feeling from the age of 12 on. Nothing has changed. Roger Angell, one of my favorite writers, eloquently described why this is important in his essay “Agincourt and After,” from his collection,”Five Seasons”:

“It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitive as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look — I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring — caring deeply and passionately, really caring — which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete — the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball — seems a small price to pay for such a gift.”

A small price indeed.

2. PBS may be a progressive propaganda organ, but the facts will out. A streaming service offers the channel’s documentaries for a pittance, and they are a reliable source of perspective and enlightenment. One that my wife and I watched this past week was about the development of the FDA and other federal agencies that protected the public and workers. When workers at manufacturing plants making leaded gasoline started dying of lead poisoning, the government scientists’ solution was to just ban the product. General Motors and Standard Oil fought back and overturned the ban, assuring Congress that they could make leaded gas safe to produce, and they did. This was a classic example of why we must not let scientists dictate public policy: leaded gasoline transformed transportation and benefited the public. The scientists’ approach was just to eliminate risk; they didn’t care about progress, the economy, jobs or anything else. Science needs to be one of many considerations, and when scientists have been co-opted by partisan bias, as they are now, this is more true than ever.

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Unethical Quote Of The Week: Dr. Mary Rudyk [Corrected]

“I think we have to be more blunt, we have to be more forceful, we have to say something coming out, you know you don’t get vaccinated, you know you’re going to die. I mean, let’s just be really blunt to these people.”

—-Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center Dr. Mary Rudyk, formerly the North Carolina’s Chief of Medical Staff, in a leaked Zoom discussion with a colleague about how to persuade vaccine resisters to get their shots. [ Notice of Correction: the original post included a shot from the Zoom recording that was not Rudyk, but the colleague she was talking with. Commenter Zanshin flagged the mistake. That is Rudyk above.]

In other words, lie and engage in fear-mongering! Oh, good plan. That’s surely the way to build back the trust the health care community has squandered during the pandemic.

Moron.

Rudyk says in the now viral two-minute video that  the hospital’s messaging needs to be “a little bit more scary for the public,” so she proposes including patients she characterizes as “post-COVID” in the hospital’s case count. Actually, as the hospital tried to explain later as it desperately attempts to address public outrage over the comments, that policy would be defensible, as patients hospitalized for conditions brought on by the virus are still in danger as a direct result of being infected. However, the ethical motive for making this choice is to be more informative, not to be “more scary.’

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/31/2021: Good Morning, Even Though It’s Not Really Such A Good Morning…

Turner Classic Movies will be running “Singin’ in the Rain” again this coming Saturday at 6 pm E.S.T. It always cheers me up. Incredibly, the film now generally regarded as the best original Hollywood musical ever made (I’d rank “Mary Poppins” and “Swingtime” next) didn’t even warrant an Academy Award nomination in 1952, and the other all-time classic in that year’s Oscar race, “High Noon,” was nominated but didn’t win. The Best Picture winner was Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Greatest Show on Earth,” which has been mocked by film critics ever since. I just watched that film again: it must have been stunning on the big screen. TV doesn’t do it justice, and with the demise of big circuses, it’s also an amazing historical artifact. The movie isn’t art, like “High Noon,” and it’s not as entertaining a Gene, Donald and Debbie, but we will never see the like of “The Greatest Show on Earth,” the movie or the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus again. I’m grateful to C.B. for making it. (And that train wreck is amazing!)

1. Now he tells us? In her review of a new book about President Andrew Johnson, the New York Times’ Jennifer Szalai concludes,

“But when Johnson was eventually impeached, it wasn’t for his subversion of Reconstruction; it was for failing to obtain Congressional approval before he fired his secretary of war. The articles of impeachment were “dryly legalistic,” almost all of them focused on violations of the Tenure of Office Act, passed by Congress just the year before. Republicans were trying to portray Johnson as a lawbreaker while studiously avoiding the matter of race. This fixation on technicalities, Levine says, “allowed Congress to impeach Johnson not for doing harm to hundreds of thousands of Black people in the South but for firing a white man….The impeachers may have been trying to be pragmatic, but playing it safe didn’t work; Johnson prevailed by a single vote. As one of his biographers, Hans Trefousse, once put it: ‘If you impeach for reasons that are not the real reasons, you really can’t win.’”

Yesterday I wrote about how the Times and others continue to reference Donald Trump in every negative context imaginable. What does it tell us that when the topic screams out for a Trump analogy that reflects poorly on his attackers, he isn’t mentioned at all?

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I Trusted The Science, And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt!

Idiot T-Shirt

For more than a decade, I told incoming members of the D.C. Bar as part of their mandatory ethics training that such sessions as mine were essential to making their ethics alarms ring. To support that thesis, I related the finding of research performed by behavioral economist Dan Ariely when he was at M.I.T. Ariely created an experiment that was the most publicized part of his best-selling book “Predictably Irrational,” giving Harvard Business School students a test that had an obvious way to cheat built into it and offering a cash reward for the students who got the highest scores. He tracked how many students, with that incentive to be unethical, cheated. He also varied the experiment by asking some students to do simple tasks before they took the test: name five baseball teams, or state capitals, or U.S. Presidents.

None of these pre-test questions had any effect on the students’ likelihood of cheating, except for one question, which had a dramatic effect.  He discovered that students who were asked to recite a few of the Ten Commandments, unlike any of the other groups, never cheated at all. Never. None of them. Ariely told an NPR interviewer that he had periodically repeated the experiment elsewhere, with the same results. No individual who was asked to search his memory for a few of the Ten Commandments has ever cheated on Ariely’s test, though the percentage of cheaters among the rest of the testees is consistently in double figures. This result has held true, he said, regardless of the individual’s faith, ethnic background, or even whether they could name one Commandment correctly.

The classic moral rules, he concluded, reminded the students to consider right and wrong. It wasn’t the content of the Commandments that affected them, but what they represent: being good, or one culture’s formula for doing good. The phenomenon is called priming, and Ariely’s research eventually made me decide to start “The Ethics Scoreboard” and later this ethics blog.

Priming is a superb way to make sure your ethics alarms are turned on and in working order. All of us go through life focused on what ethicist call “non-ethical considerations,” the human motivations, emotions, needs and desires that drive us in everything they do—love, lust, greed, ambition, fear, ego, anger, passion…wanting that promotion, the new car, the compliment, fame, power. Good people do bad things because at the moment they are unethical, they aren’t thinking about ethics. If they were, they wouldn’t engage in the misconduct, because they would be “primed” and their ethics alarms would sound in time to stop them.

I still believe that the priming theory is sound, but it looks like Ariely’s alleged proof of the phenomenon can’t be trusted, because he can’t be trusted. Last week, an in-depth statistical analysis showed that a data set from one of the professor’s 2012 papers was fraudulent. That study had apparently demonstrated that people were more honest about how much mileage on their car if they had to sign a statement pledging that the number was accurate before they reported the mileage, rather than signing at the bottom of the page. Oops! No such study had ever been done,, and the “data” was produced using a random number generator.

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Speaking Of Big Buts, The Unethical Quote Of The Month: Dr. Anthony Fauci

Fauci

“I know I respect people’s freedom, but…”

—-Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President

Fauci was talking about the need for everyone to get vaccinated, but it doesn’t matter what he was talking about. When government officials, whether they are elected or not, follow statements like “I respect people’s/personal freedom/liberty/rights with the word “but,” that’s all Americans need to hear to know that the speaker does not respect our freedom, liberty or rights, and that not only he or she cannot and must not be trusted, no government that continues to employ such an official can be trusted either. Continue reading

This Is How Trust In A Democracy Dies…And When Trust Dies, Democracy Dies

pentagonbrief-1z0wty

I am late getting up the first post of this Saturday—experience shows that if there isn’t at least one post up by 10:30 am, the total traffic for the day will resemble that of Hooterville at midnight in mid-February—because I was watching with my face in a rictus of horror as the Pentagon’s various flacks tried to spin the unspinnable and treated the American public as idiots as well as the news media (but then the reporters are idiots, to be fair.)

The various contrived reports—What a wonderful and heroic job the U.S. military is doing in evacuating people! Teamwork! Coordination! Brilliantly executed planning! It’s a triumph!–were dripping with Authentic Frontier Gibberish like “throughput.” I don’t trust officials who won’t speak plain English. The Pentagon’s mouthpieces kept describing the situation as “fluid and dynamic,” over and over, obviously and deliberately misleading adjectives with false positive vibrations that were carefully chosen to deceive. It reminded me of Phillip Roth’s satire “Our Gang” in which White House spokesmen keep describing the President as “resting comfortably” when he is in fact dead.

When one of today’s liars was asked about one of his assurances last week that turned out to be completely false, his response was, “That was absolutely true at the time I said it.” He also kept repeating, “I’m not going to get into threat assessments at this time.”

How can anyone with sufficient cognitive ability to tie their shoelaces trust people who talk like this ever? How can they ever trust the organizations and institutions they represent? The answer is simple: They can’t.

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WHAT? Snopes Has Had An Unethical Culture All These Years??

What a surprise.

You know, I hate to resort to mockery, sarcasm and “I told you so” on an ethics blog, but sometimes nothing else will do. Snopes fooled me for a while: in 2010, I described the fact-checking site as doing “a superb job tracking down and clarifying web hoaxes, rumors and other misinformation.”As late as early 2016 I was relying on Scopes, and then it began to dawn on me that, like most factchecking sites (Factcheck.com is better than the rest), Snopes miraculously only saw false stories when they either impugned conservatives, or were non-political, like the three-breasted woman. 2016 saw Snopes joining the mainstream news media in shilling for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, and the jig was up. After tracing many examples Snopes partisanship, I kissed the site off with this post, marking it as an Unethical Website Of The Month (July, 2016).

I wonder if I should contact all the furious commenters defending Snopes on that post and ask them their thoughts on today’s revelations.

A BuzzFeed News investigation found that David Mikkelson, the site’s co-founder and chief executive, authored and published dozens of articles plagiarized from other news outlets. His objective, we are told, was ” to scoop up web traffic.” Gee, you mean pandering to progressives and Democrats, doing regular hit-jobs on Republicans and issuing biased and dishonest “factchecks” with clickbait titles wasn’t enough? Fascinating.

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