It was almost a feeling akin to deja-vu or a case of ‘you stole the words right outta me mouth!’ while reading the Michaels, 2008 article. It articulated most of my thoughts and there are a couple of quotes that stand out so strong I would like to re-quote them here:
1. “However, science is also becoming more like accounting in that it is increasingly and inextricably linked to commerce” – How many times have we seen this as an issue in ethical cases we have studied? Most of them revolve around some kind of cost-benefit perspective as mentioned here (pg. 243)
2. This is a long one but I will just highlight important lines from the paragraph – “While the anti-regulatory forces have been unable………As a direct result, some agencies have virtually abandoned their efforts to fulfill their public health responsiblities”…..(in relation to FDA), “political meddling has occured in purely scientific areas that has been considered off-limits to politicians” (pg. 242)
3. “The public is also largely ignorant of the depth and reach of corporate deception” – This is true isn’t it? Doesn’t this hurt to know? (pg. 243). As mentioned, people don’t have anywhere else to turn to but for the Government in times of need and end up trusting them probably because they want to believe a change will come.
4. “As a result, the model of the disinterested scientist searching for truth……is no longer help up as an ideal, even by scientists. Instead, the most valuable scientist is the one whose work contributes most to the bottom line” (pg. 244) And so, finally the cat is out of the bag for all of us. Our research doesn’t really matter UNLESS it can rake in funds from multiple sources. Does that mean unfunded research is not valuable? Funny, or laughable as Michaels mentions, isn’t it?
5. “Money changes everything. Financial conflict of interest inevitably shapes judgment – the funding effect- and this correlation must be factored into consideration of analyses and opinions of scientists employed by the industry” (Pg. 245). Anybody reminded of Guidotti?
I just feel that this week’s readings present a crude reminder (yet again) of the evils of Corporate Culture and the unfortunate control they have on the Government and the people. Every industry sells products they make and not what customers want. They go to any extent to defend themselves and their malpractices. What then can be said about a mere human being who is, but expected to err?
I think it is not wrong to expect this culture to change. As citizens, we are all constantly in the hope that with a new government, change will also be brought. If not for hope, what else do we live on? This may definitely by my least-worded and most-disjointed post till date but there is just too much to bring out. Hopefully in a couple of days as I reflect on the entire course, I will be able to blog more on it.
I also really hope this blog continues and we call continue to be ‘in touch’ through it. As I said, it doesn’t hurt to hope, does it? :)
1. Broome, T. H., Jr. 1986. The Slippery Ethics of Engineering. Washington Post (December 28):4S1.
2. Corburn, J. 2005. “Street Science: Toward Environmental Health Justice.” In Street Science: Community Knowledge and Environmental Health Justice, pp. 201-218. Cambridge, MA and London, UK: The MIT Press.
3. Michaels, D. 2008. “Sarbanes-Oxley for Science: A Dozen Ways to Improve Our Regulatory System.” In Doubt is Their Product: How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health, pp. 241-265. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
4. Ladd, J. 1970. Morality and the Ideal of Rationality in Formal Organizations. The Monist 54(4):488-516.