As I mentioned, I’ve been doing some indexing work. It’s a big job, and a bit overwhelming – not just in size, but content. Bioethics is not a terribly happy field, and reading hundreds of articles, one on top of another, about death and murder and lying and all of the worst traits of humanity over and again gets a bit, well, depressing.
Add in that I’m doing this work alone in my apartment, it’s very cold out, dark, and generally winter, and it’s probably not a surprise that I voluntarily spent my weekend in PHP hell, instead.
But that said, it’s not really a surprise that, say, a teenage boy in the Midwest repeatedly beat his 6-months pregnant girlfriend in the stomach with a souvenier baseball bat – at her request. Because they were trying to get her to miscarry, as that was easier than getting an abortion, and didn’t involve telling her parents (which this state would have required). This is the kind of reality I’ve lived in since working for Planned Parenthood, and I’ve never been terribly naive about general human nature at large.
So on one hand, it’s surprising that with my cynical view of society, I find this so surprising, but I do. Maybe like just about everyone else, the AMA’s Dr. Kildare depiction of doctors imprinted on me at a young age, but I just find it shocking that anyone would be alright putting their name on reports assuring that a drug – an anti-depressant – is safe for a population group, when in reality it’s tripling the risk of suicide! How do you live with yourself, signing your name to these ghost-written reports? How do sleep at night, knowing that your expertise is being used, knowingly, to drive sales at the expense of people’s health, their lives?
I mean, we’re talking a systematic effort to obscure, obfuscate, manipulate data, and outright lie in order to completely misrepresent an anti-depressants effectiveness in teenagers. It’s not just doctors allowing themselves to be bought, it’s the people doing the buying, and the journals doing the publishing. Where is the mea culpa from the journals propagating this misinformation? Shouldn’t they be responsible enough to demand the data, and not just take the word of a researcher? Haven’t we learned anything from the numerous incidents of academic fraud in the last couple of years?
I don’t know, I guess I’m just horrified that people can justify large scale harm like this. I can understand the fear and terror and the mentality that leads scared teenagers to make a very bad personal decision, but this is not the same category. This is not a family squabble over end-of-life care dragged onto the political stage, this is multiple, if not hundreds, of people, all choosing complacency over the safety and health of the public.