Jan 15 2009

I’ll be on NPR

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Comments: 109

Quick note for those who are interested, I will be interviewed on NPR Friday morning 9:30-10:30 Eastern time. The topic will be about dualism and the evolution of human consciousness. They tell me that Michael Egnor may also be on – should be interesting.

Update!

The interview went well, it was a 1 on 1 for about an hour. It was being recorded for future broadcast. I was told it will come out around Darwin’s birthday (Feb 12th) either on Morning Edition or All Things Considered.

As soon as they let me know exactly when I will post another update.

Urgent Update:

This is actually unrelated, but I was asked to be on JPR, a local Oregon NPR affiliate, right now!!!.

That is – 12:00-1:00pm Eastern Today.

You can stream live from here: http://www.ijpr.org/ (go to The Jefferson Exchange under News). Here is the link to the show description: http://www.ijpr.org/ProgramGuide.asp?StationID=3

Download the podcast here (http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast/podcast_detail.php?siteId=5593976)  – my interview is the second hour.

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109 responses so far

109 Responses to “I’ll be on NPR”

  1. Joeon 15 Jan 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Can you be a bit more specific about which program you will be on?

  2. Steven Novellaon 15 Jan 2009 at 10:04 pm

    I’m not really sure – it’s a program on Darwin, part of a series leading up to his birthday.

  3. Mjhavokon 15 Jan 2009 at 10:07 pm

    No internet link to this?

  4. rdrileyon 15 Jan 2009 at 11:02 pm

    I’m sure more info will be forthcoming about which show this will be; NPR’s schedule shows “World Cafe” on the national program at that time tomorrow.

  5. MBoazon 15 Jan 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Kick ass Dr. N.!

  6. moneduloideson 15 Jan 2009 at 11:09 pm

    Great stuff. If they put up a stream and I’ll slap it on my blog as well.

  7. becomingdigitalon 16 Jan 2009 at 12:37 am

    Unless Steve will be singing, I doubt that he is appearing on World Café. Perhaps it’s being recorded for a later broadcast, although I would like to believe that NPR would have informed the good doctor of this. Either way, I look forward to hearing it.

  8. salzbergon 16 Jan 2009 at 9:01 am

    The Washington area re-runs Morning Edition at that time slot, but your interview doesn’t seem to be on ME. I checked Science Friday with Ira Flatow, but it doesn’t seem to be on that either. I hope Steve can post a link after it airs.

  9. ADR150on 16 Jan 2009 at 3:55 pm

    damn, i missed the JPR interview. is there a linked recording of it?

  10. Steven Novellaon 16 Jan 2009 at 4:04 pm

    They will put it out as a podcast – I will link to it.

  11. PaulJon 16 Jan 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Enjoyed the JPR interview (got it in iTunes). I did notice that the callers only got to ask a question, never to comment on your reply.

    I particularly liked the way you dealt with the points quickly and confidently – almost as if you had prior knowledge of the questions. Although, I suppose, many of the questions can be fairly predictable….

  12. Steven Novellaon 16 Jan 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Thanks. I had not prior knowledge- I have just heard all those questions many times before.

  13. Puppet_Masteron 16 Jan 2009 at 7:07 pm

    I just listened to the JPR broadcasting and I want to say you were articulate and informative. It made me proud to know that we share common philosophies on acquiring knowledge. I particularly liked the last callers utter failure to intersect the scientific definition of energy with the mystical one. I hope your (and by extension the skeptical) view was expressed on NPR as well as it was on JPR. I have a hunch that you’ll be a prominent skeptical figure in the public arena, much like Dawkins and Hitchens. All you need to do now is write a book.

    I’m an electromagnetic and photonics engineering student, and, after listening to you on various media, I am concurrently pursuing medical school to become a neurologist or neurosurgeon. Maybe it’s modesty, but I still don’t think you realize how much of an impact you’re making people.

  14. richdieton 17 Jan 2009 at 1:06 am

    The Jefferson Exchange podcast with you segment is up (includes directly downloadable mp3) is up here:
    http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast/podcast_detail.php?siteId=5593976

    As of my writing this, it’s the latest episode and directly downloadable from this link:

    http://podcastdownload.npr.org/anon.npr-podcasts/podcast/172/510073/99468290/JPR_99468290.mp3?dl=1

    Dr. Novella’s segment begins at 56:16.

    Richard

  15. ADR150on 17 Jan 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Just listened to the jpr piece and I must say what a great job you did responding and answering to the interviewer and callers. Clear,succinct, and rational,as always. It was also nice to hear the comments of the like minded callers. …that last caller was hilarious – ‘there’s some kind of energy going on with calories’ roflmao!

  16. doktorgustavon 17 Jan 2009 at 4:18 pm

    This is off topic, and I’m delurking to mention it, but it seems that this blog (and theness.com as a whole) have disappeared from google. I noticed this last night at work because that’s how I usually access this blog, since I can’t have any bookmarks on my work computer. Any idea what’s going on?

  17. amaon 17 Jan 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Congratulations!

    ama
    ( http://www.orac.me )

  18. Strangebrainon 18 Jan 2009 at 2:42 am

    I just listened to the JPR interview, excellent job Sir!

  19. CrookedTimberon 18 Jan 2009 at 2:51 am

    Wow, is there any subject you can’t tackle? Nicely done! I would like to see you on larger forums, it seems as though you are well equipped to be the token skeptic on the Oprah/Larry Kings of the world and not be shouted down. Oh by the way I live somewhat near Ashland and I can safely say that you probably crushed a large percentage of populations belief system, and not a moment too soon.

  20. DevoutCatalyston 18 Jan 2009 at 9:09 am

    I agree with Crooked Timber, and do hope that this kind of exposure will lead you to becoming the go-to guy for the media in the English speaking world. You have a special talent for this role.

  21. MBoazon 18 Jan 2009 at 4:06 pm

    The last caller was kind of a d-bag.

  22. Fred Cunninghamon 18 Jan 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Great job Steve. One thing you could have mentioned was that the government is frittering away millions of dollars trying to research CAM with no results.

  23. empiricalgod2on 18 Jan 2009 at 9:49 pm

    I am at work currently. But can’t wait to hear this interview.

    Could this be the begining of an expanding audience and exposure for you Dr. N. , for the skepticsguide and for the whole skeptical community?

    If you start landing larger and larger audiences you will surely attract much more people to your cause.

  24. mindmeon 19 Jan 2009 at 10:44 am

    That was a great point about CAM having billions as well. The argument is always “big pharma has billions of dollars to do research”. And they do. CAM has the funds, they could do the research, but they don’t.

  25. Fifion 19 Jan 2009 at 11:20 am

    mindme – All health fraud and quackery is about money and power. The problem is not having an open discussion about how commerce and the corporate profit-driven model influence and corrupt medicine in general – whether it’s Big Pharma or Big SCAM. Both have huge influence (they shouldn’t have) on public policy in the US (and elsewhere but it’s more pronounced and obvious in the US) – including the allocation of public funds to “CAM” research rather than anything potentially promising being funded as normal medical research (obviously it was more beneficial for the SCAM industry to have their own department with “alternative” science rules and regulations, so that’s what they lobbied for and got). Neither Big SCAM or Big Pharma can be trusted to do (and publish) research that won’t benefit them financially – their priority is profit not people. The fact that medicine in the US is profit driven – that it’s targeted at clients/consumers not patients/people – means that anything profitable like SCAM is bound to have an easy time becoming just another consumer product (attractive for it’s low production costs and high returns). This doesn’t mean SCAM can’t make its way into public health systems when it has political support (like it did in the UK due to the PM’s wife’s infatuation with celebrity and all things woo, the Blair’s also consorted with other dubious characters like Thatcher’s son – con artists are often easy to con!), it’s just that it’s much easier for SCAM to buy its way into medicine (and all public policy) in the US since medicine is up for sale to the highest bidder.

  26. superdaveon 19 Jan 2009 at 11:42 am

    It’s mazing how predictable the caller questions were.
    The one line that would have unnerved me was some thing like “if only the liver could be allowed to stop detoxing and go bak to its normal functions” this is a paraphrase but argh…

  27. Fifion 19 Jan 2009 at 11:48 am

    superdave – At least that’s quite entertaining! I hope they were asked what they think the normal function of a liver is!

  28. mindmeon 19 Jan 2009 at 11:53 am

    People who grumble about big pharma (and there are certainly ethical problems worthy of grumbling) I like to walk them through this chain of logic:

    Surely you don’t want drug companies putting out untested drugs or drugs that simply don’t work.

    Drug companies need to test the safety and the efficacy.

    This is not cheap.

    Real people are required to raise and risk vast funds on the research and development of drugs. They don’t do it out of a sense of charity and want to see a return on their investment.

    There are certainly charities that fund some drug research and if you want to see less control by big pharma, you could start by donating more to them.

    But at the end of the day, new drugs requires large amounts of money. It can come from private individuals (charity or investment) or it can come from the government.

    Maybe you think the government is good at handing out tax dollars, especially in medical research. If you do, then vote for politicians who will use more of your tax dollars to fund drug research in university environments.

    If you don’t think the government is great at this thing and you think profit motives override science and health, then let me know of another alternative.

  29. Fifion 19 Jan 2009 at 12:30 pm

    The alternative is a well supported public health system with safeguards in place and a strong public and academic research body. It’s not perfect either but it is less prone to corruption of the commercial variety. It’s rather sad that you can’t think of any model EXCEPT a profit driven one where only those who can afford treatment get it and can’t even see how there is a fundamental conflict of interest at play in commercial medicine. One of America’s main problems is deregulation and the corruption of the governmental process by corporate lobbyists – this also contributed to the current economic crisis that blew out of the US and this is also partly what has corrupted Canadian medicare. Of course, the current medical crisis has more to do with poor social planning (aging population, not enough medical professionals due to caps on training and lack of enticements). Sadly, quite a few of the charges that CAM lays at the door of corporate medicine in the US and Big Pharma are true – by not acknowledging this you also make any “but you do it too” arguments against CAM toothless. Both Big Pharma AND Big SCAM fight for deregulation (and win despite the protests of doctors quite often – straight to consumer drug advertising being one Big Pharma won, non-regulation of supplements being one Big SCAM won – and contrary to the public interest and certainly more in the interests of commerce/profit than public health). When global public health is a concern there’s more invested in prevention and public health (including educating school kids about preventitive health, diet and exercise, and doing things like providing healthy lunches to kids living in poverty) since it reduces costs long term and is in the public interest, there’s more invested in researching low cost and not profitable but cheap and effective solutions to public health issues, and it’s less about indulging a client and more about treating a patient. (It also removes the insurance industry from being the corporations that decide which treatments are cost effective for the corporation and allowed – rather than it being what is in the patient’s best interest.)

    Are you advocating for a total removal of the government from healthcare in the US? Or do you think there should actually be a more stringent, science-based healthcare policy in the US that puts patients/people before profit?

  30. Fifion 19 Jan 2009 at 12:44 pm

    To be quite honest, I’m not sure if America is conceptually or practically ready for social medicine simply because there’s little sense of collective social responsibility or sharing in much of American culture (though clearly Obama is trying to change that and different communities where members of those communities are responsible to each other exist, it will be interesting if Obama and his team will be able to convince Americans that there’s a collective social responsibility too). (Though, the idea that Americans are somehow all individualists or lone heroic figures who think for themselves is really just an image promoted and marketed by advertisers…you know, “think for yourself, buy our product like we tell you to”…The Marlboro Man is a great example of the mythology about Americans that is marketed to Americans en masse as “individuality” ;-) )

    Just to be clear, advertising (and propaganda, they’re the same thing essentially) works the same way all over the world – it’s just particularly deregulated in the US so America is a very good example of what happens to society when it is driven by advertising and profit (advertising being designed to create false needs and promote narcissism for profit).

  31. weingon 19 Jan 2009 at 4:06 pm

    I totally disagree about deregulation. The problem is there is too much regulation and under Bush we’ve had the largest number of regulations, the highest number of regulators and overseers, and the largest amounts of money in regulation enforcement in history. I believe the regulations in place are subversive, placed by those in power to maintain their power, and anti-free market. The results are all around you.

  32. Fifion 19 Jan 2009 at 4:35 pm

    weing – Certainly regulations that benefit corporate interests and not the public interest are also involved. The American system – where corporations are given the same “rights” as individual humans – allows regulations to be defined and controlled by industry and corporate interest to be considered the same as human interest (which obviously they’re not). This is yet another reason why evidence-based medicine and science has such a hard time in the US (it’s about consumer demand) and why the US is probably not ready for public healthcare in many ways. Do you believe a totally deregulated free market with no constraints upon business or consumer protection laws would work? How do you think this would benefit the practice of science-based medicine? Do you think the practice of medicine should be deregulated?

  33. mindmeon 20 Jan 2009 at 10:36 am

    ||It’s rather sad that you can’t think of any model EXCEPT a profit driven one where only those who can afford treatment get it and can’t even see how there is a fundamental conflict of interest at play in commercial medicine.||

    I believe a profit motive is an excellent incentive but at the same time we should not put all our eggs in that basket. We should support the public funding of science and drug research.

    At the end of the day, if you want to totally eliminate for profit drug companies then you have to get your capital from some place else.

    In all things, there’s a balance between government support, private enterprise, and ways of regulating.

    I just find people who sing the evils of for profit drug companies don’t quite understand the reality on the ground.

  34. Fifion 20 Jan 2009 at 11:08 am

    mindme – I don’t know a medical researcher who doesn’t have a similar mistrust of drug companies (or doesn’t see working for them as being a compromise that’s motived by a much higher salary than one makes in academic research).

    The problem is the profit motive is also an excellent incentive to hide results that aren’t commercially viable/potentially profitable (which they keep getting caught doing) and to avoid researching things that aren’t profitable. It’s no coincidence that most really useful medical research goes on in academia not the pharmaceutical industry (in academia people tend to be driven by curiosity and passion and/or ego/ambition – it’s certainly not the money, that’s why some researchers go to work for Big Pharma).

    The reality is that the pharmaceutical industry lobbies for things that are in their best interest not that of the patient or even the doctor and can even be damaging to doctor/patient relationships (direct to consumer advertising being one, hiding the risks of certain medications so that doctors can’t provide adequate treatment and information is another). The pharmaceutical and insurance industries care about profit – that’s their main objective and their attempts to corrupt medicine for corporate profit are well documented. (They’re not any more ethical than the Tabacco industry, they’re just a bit better regulated.)

    I find people who deny the evils of for-profit drug companies don’t quite understand the reality on the ground – particularly people who’ve only ever lived in culture where everything is for sale to the highest bidder and it’s believed that money is the only motivator.

  35. mindmeon 20 Jan 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Fifi,

    All for-profit companies will game the system. I used to work for a tax software company in Canada. We put out a home version of our professional software. Anyway, one year Intuit moved into the Canadian market. Every turn we made, Intuit hit us with a lawsuit. Our president one day found himself on the links with the president of Intuit Canada (a transplant from the USA). Our president wondered why they kept slapping us with lawsuits, some over what seemed like very minor or fine points in box wording. The American said “oh well nothing personal, that’s just the way we do business in the USA. If we can use the courts to get any advantage, we’ll do it.”

    I don’t even want to get into what locals farmers tried to get away with…

    Of course no one dies if their software is marketed in a misleading fashion. Drug companies behaving badly like every other for profit company does however get our attention, and rightly so.

    And any motive (profit or ego) is an excellent incentive to hide results. Academic fraud is not unknown, right?

    ||It’s no coincidence that most really useful medical research goes on in academia not the pharmaceutical industry (in academia people tend to be driven by curiosity and passion and/or ego/ambition – it’s certainly not the money, that’s why some researchers go to work for Big Pharma).||

    Even if true, one could say the same thing of any pure research. But I’ve yet to see a university turn out an iPod.

    ||The reality is that the pharmaceutical industry lobbies for things that are in their best interest not that of the patient or even the doctor and can even be damaging to doctor/patient relationships (direct to consumer advertising being one, hiding the risks of certain medications so that doctors can’t provide adequate treatment and information is another).||

    Demanding more from my boss is in my best interest, not his. I’m sure you feel the same when it comes to salary negotiation time. I think we all pursue what’s in our best interest at times. That’s not a bad thing necessarily. When it becomes a bad thing there are ways to control it: social and legal pressure. Would you agree in principle?

    Lots of hard jobs would not get done if it were not for a high profit motive. Who is to say useful drugs would get made in a non-profit drug research scheme?

    Also, cannot it be the case that legislators go too far and drug companies lobbing for the loosening regulations is a good thing, even if the motive is profit? Let’s say legislatures listen to Jenny McCarthy and rule that parents have to space out childhood vaccines or aren’t allowed to give them. The drug companies no doubt will push back because, and only because, their profits are at risk. But the end result is a good thing.

    People working on the public payroll also hide risks of their actions as well. Removing a profit motive doesn’t remove or necessarily lessen the chance people will act like scum bags. Not many police forces are run for profit but egos of police and prosecutors is sometimes behind putting innocents on death row.

    Anyway, evil is a loaded term. I’m sure it can be applied in some cases. But, I dunno, when I buy a bottle of Bayer ASA, I don’t sense much evil has transpired to get that bottle onto the shelf. I don’t sense much evil goes on getting a childhood vaccine into a needle. Maybe I’m wrong there.

    But for profit drug companies, in my opinion, certainly have a place at the table, just as for-profit farmers, for-profit daycare centers, for-profit airlines, and for-profit family doctors have a place. You don’t agree?

    Perhaps in America they’ve been given more than their fair share at the table. I’ll leave that to American voters to decide.

  36. Fifion 20 Jan 2009 at 5:32 pm

    mindme – No, I’m sorry I don’t agree about almost all your points. I grew up with two doctors and this has been a hot topic of discussion at the dinner table since the 70s. This is an active debate in Quebec and Canada, where I live (and being North American I’m flooded with American perspectives on it, as well as being aware of the pressure and lobbying that goes on that is paid for by those who want to privatize healthcare and health insurance in Canada). I’m also aware of how private clinics in Canada operate (and just how much they rely upon money from Workers Comp and other governement bodies).

    You might want to think twice before waving that ipod around as being analogous to medicine. Really, medicine is about treating people not marketing luxury consumer products.

  37. empiricalgod2on 20 Jan 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Listneed to it yesterday night.
    Great stuff !!!

    wonder if it will effect your next weeks podcast numbers.

  38. Blair Ton 20 Jan 2009 at 9:41 pm

    RE: # doktorgustavon on Neurologica disappearing from Google.

    I just did a search with “Neurologica NESS novella and blog” and didn’t get a direct hit in the first 50 entries on Google.

    I did a Live Search of “Neurologica blog” got it on the first hit.

    Steve, do you have enemies at Google?

  39. jhson 21 Jan 2009 at 12:55 am

    The link provided in your second update (to the JPR podcast) is no longer correct as they have released a new episode. Here is a direct link to the show which interviewed you:

    http://podcastdownload.npr.org/anon.npr-podcasts/podcast/172/510073/99468290/JPR_99468290.mp3

  40. mkg12on 21 Jan 2009 at 1:28 am

    Good stuff.

    I have a couple criticisms. I think you were talking too fast and in-depth for people who are not already familiar with the subject matter. I don’t think the host was able to keep up nor understood a lot of your explanations Doc.

  41. weingon 21 Jan 2009 at 9:37 am

    Fifi,

    I don’t see anything wrong with making a profit either. I am a capitalist but against lying, cheating, exploiting others, or using otherwise illegal means to destroy your competition. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is looking out for their own self-interest. If someone claims they are otherwise, look out for your wallet as they are lying. I know drug companies will game the system and issue studies that are favorable and hide those that are not favorable to their drug. I want to see all the studies. What the FDA could do is not accept any studies unless they were registered with the FDA before being run. Then they could no longer hide the unfavorable ones.

  42. mindmeon 21 Jan 2009 at 11:11 am

    ||You might want to think twice before waving that ipod around as being analogous to medicine. Really, medicine is about treating people not marketing luxury consumer products.||

    End of the day, some methods of treating people need drugs and medical devices. Research needs to be applied. Someone needs to acquire a factory floor.

    A profit motive is a great way for people to take the pure research and develop the medical device or drug.

    I hoped you would address my other points, Fifi. Notably:

    -Also, cannot it be the case that legislators go too far and drug companies lobbing for the loosening regulations is a good thing, even if the motive is profit? Let’s say legislatures listen to Jenny McCarthy and rule that parents have to space out childhood vaccines or aren’t allowed to give them. The drug companies no doubt will push back because, and only because, their profits are at risk. But the end result is a good thing.

    -People working on the public payroll also hide risks of their actions as well. Removing a profit motive doesn’t remove or necessarily lessen the chance people will act like scum bags. Not many police forces are run for profit but egos of police and prosecutors is sometimes behind putting innocents on death row.

    -Demanding more from my boss is in my best interest, not his. I’m sure you feel the same when it comes to salary negotiation time. I think we all pursue what’s in our best interest at times. That’s not a bad thing necessarily. When it becomes a bad thing there are ways to control it: social and legal pressure. Would you agree in principle?

  43. Fifion 21 Jan 2009 at 12:02 pm

    mindme – I’m self employed so I don’t have a master to beg for a raise. Seriously, I negotiate my rate with my clients and I balance out my desire/need to make money with what they need done and can afford. I pursue solutions that are in both parties best interests. Besides, you’ve put a very simplistic spin on asking for a raise since it may well be in your bosses best interest to give you a raise and that’s information you bring to the table when you negotiate one (if your boss agrees, a raise is negotiated). The pseudo-Darwinian dog-eat-dog model of competition is not based in science and is a very outdated ideological perception of the world that is more about the political context of capitalist/religious ideology and dysfunctional social organization than it does human nature and how healthy social animals interact constructively.

    Sure people hide mistakes and so on – this is most evident and rampant in corporate, social and political cultures that are blame rather than reward oriented (where there is no collective responsibility or true accountability/personal responsibility). Really, this is basic stuff about how social systems create the contexts for certain actions or activities (incite them even). The recent partial repeat of Milgram’s experiments are a good place to start vis a vis how context and authority influence behavior.

    So far I haven’t seen the drug companies take out the anti-vaxers so your argument that this is how it works is disproven by reality. Science and evidence based regulations deal with reality, what you’re proposing is an ideological battle that is won by whoever has the most money/power totally irrelevant of what the reality is. Sounds like what the US has been doing all along.

    Also, for all the people who go on about how private enterprise is what has driven innovation, most technological innovations have come out of the military or academia not the “free market” (and are the result of curiosity, though ambition and greed are prime human motivators no matter the system). The military, of course, being a government agency that is funded by taxpayer dollars.

  44. mindmeon 21 Jan 2009 at 12:35 pm

    ||Seriously, I negotiate my rate with my clients and I balance out my desire/need to make money with what they need done and can afford.||
    But ultimately, there is a self interest element. This is what I suggest. Self interest is not necessarily bad.
    ||Sure people hide mistakes and so on – this is most evident and rampant in corporate, social and political cultures that are blame rather than reward oriented (where there is no collective responsibility or true accountability/personal responsibility). ||
    So you agree, deception is a result of any reward (positive or negative) system, be it for profit or ego or avoid a loss of face?
    ||So far I haven’t seen the drug companies take out the anti-vaxers so your argument that this is how it works is disproven by reality. ||
    I was merely suggesting a case where a profit motive can have a positive societal outcome. Pursuing a reduction in regulation in the courts, for reasons of profit, is not necessarily a bad thing. Abortion doctors tend to fight regulations. Pro Lifers accuse them of just pursuing profits. Even if they are, the end result is reproductive freedom for women. Again, we can’t start from the assumption all regulation is reasonable and appropriate. That’s simply not true on the face of it.
    ||Science and evidence based regulations deal with reality||
    Right, but lawmakers don’t’ always base regulation on the best evidence.
    ||what you’re proposing is an ideological battle that is won by whoever has the most money/power totally irrelevant of what the reality is.||
    Was I? No. I’m merely suggesting one of the ways we all live in a happy society is people argue for what works best for them. If one side has an unfair advantage because of the mediation process (in our society it is largely the courts, and you need lots of money to be heard) then we can look at how to make the mediation process more fair. But then corporations don’t get to cast votes. People do.
    ||Also, for all the people who go on about how private enterprise is what has driven innovation, most technological innovations have come out of the military or academia not the “free market” ||
    An interesting claim, certainly. I’m curious if there is evidence to support that claim. One can certainly find anecdotes to support such a claim but is there any hard data?
    And the military, ultimately, uses the free market to get its tanks and planes. No? The army does not own factories. It puts out the specs and then free market corporations compete to see who can do it better for less money. (Of course, it’s not always the case where the low bidder wins the contract.)
    Anyway, thank you for addressing the points.

  45. Fifion 21 Jan 2009 at 1:16 pm

    mindme – No one said self interest is always bad, you seem to be promoting the idea that it’s always good (or that self interest is always to be in competition and a win/lose situation like the one you promoted as being what asking for a raise is all about). Anyway, all you’ve done is avoid addressing the fact that your assertion about bosses and employees is simplistic and ignores mutuality (and doesn’t in any way prove what you thought it did).

    No, deception is part of being human (though other mammals also practice deception) and it’s much more likely to be necessary in situations of unequal power where being deceptive will bring greater rewards than being honest. (All human systems are reward/punishment systems, it’s how social animals function – it’s a bit sad that you don’t understand this and think it’s about ideology.) These rewards may have nothing to do with material rewards, they may be entirely psychosocial (for instance, masochists experience punishment as a reward – punishment/reward isn’t tied into money in the way people who only value money think it is – of course people who only value money and see it as their only avenue to power/control are usually using money as a neurotic replacement/compensation for other needs).

    As for your assertion about free markets taking care of themselves – and suggestion that drug companies would get rid of anti-vaxers – it means nothing more than any other wank fantasy since in reality this isn’t what’s happened (and there are no regulations to prevent pharmaceutical companies from doing so). You have no real world examples or evidence to back up your ideological position and the one “example” you presented contradicts your claims. Even weaker is your example of doctors who perform abortions – by which you mean Obstetrician/Gynecologists or GPs – as being driven by a profit motive. In Canada, where we have medicare, abortion is safe, legal and easily accessible. Profit had nothing to do with abortion being legalized, ethics and human rights had everything to do with it. The profit motive merely leads people to become plastic surgeons or Hollywood doctors plugging SCAM because it means they can snuggle up to celebrities and get rich.

    Which is why ideologues, such as yourself – religious leaders and purveyors of “spiritual” woo – along with profit-driven corporations and so on shouldn’t be creating healthcare policies (and you’ve got the shitty exploitative ones that now exist – and don’t function well – in the US). They should be evidence based and about providing healthcare not figuring out how people can make the most money off of someone else’s misfortune. Corporations do cast votes using politicians they’ve lobbied as their proxies (with the promise of a juicy post-politics job as part of the deal), this effectively means that the people who actually voted for that politician lose their vote to the highest bidder who can pay for it. Are you one of those people who confuses democracy with capitalism?

    Dude, do you seriously not understand just how many technological (and medical) innovations come out of military and academic research (this computer you’re using, for one tiny example)? If so, it’s really pointless talking to you since you don’t even understand the history of technological innovation and how space exploration, military research and so on contribute to public use technology (which is often a modified version of tools created for other purposes). Yes,, the military/industrial/congressional complex (as warned of by Eisenhower) makes the US government the private defense industry’s bitch – and makes going to war an expedient way to move public dollars into private pockets with the rich getting richer and more well armed – it’s part of the reason why Americans have less personal freedom than citizens of other wealthy nations.

  46. cwfongon 21 Jan 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Deception is the result of the reward/punishment system which in turn is the result of the deception it was fashioned to avoid. That’s almost your ultimate chicken-egg scenario. It competes for top spot with the selfish/self-interest conundrum, which asks when is it in your self-interest not to be selfish.

  47. mindmeon 21 Jan 2009 at 2:48 pm

    ||mindme – No one said self interest is always bad, you seem to be promoting the idea that it’s always good||

    Not in the least. I stated:

    “I think we all pursue what’s in our best interest *at times*. That’s not a bad thing *necessarily*. When it becomes a bad thing there are ways to control it: social and legal pressure. Would you agree in principle?”

    So, you and I are agree there are appropriate times when self interest is to your benefit and can be of benefit as a whole? I think you touched on a case:

    I want more money. But I think my company is in rough times and can’t afford it. I put the company’s interest ahead of mine. I don’t ask for the raise I want. My boss never gets the signal I’m unhappy with my pay. Eventually I take another job that pays more. My company loses me and never quite finds someone as talented as I.

    Alternatively, I want more money. I ask for more money. My boss clues in I’m not happy with conditions and quickly understands my value to the company. He gives me a raise. The company retains my talents. I get what I want.

    Here is a case where expressing your self interest and pursuing it has positive effects for both sides.

    But like I say above, we are both in agreement that self interest *at times* is a positive thing.

    ||As for your assertion about free markets taking care of themselves||

    I’m not sure where I said that. My quote above clearly contradicts this assertion on your part. If you read such implication in my writing, then know at this juncture that I’m making no such implication. I don’t mind free markets being balanced by regulation. Drug companies and CAM should not be able to market anything they want. They need to be balanced by an FDA or similar public body. But I also recognize not all regulation is good regulation and can be restrictive. Would you agree to that last sentence?

    ||You have no real world examples or evidence to back up your ideological position and the one “example” you presented contradicts your claims. Even weaker is your example of doctors who perform abortions – by which you mean Obstetrician/Gynecologists or GPs – as being driven by a profit motive. In Canada||

    I’m not sure how my hypothetical example of drug companies fighting regulation influenced by anti vaxxers contradicts my claim.

    As a Canadian, you’ll remember Dr. Henry Morgentaler. Pro-life critics certainly charged him with fighting abortion legislation for a profit motive. His abortions performed in clinic were certainly not covered by OHIP at that time. But in Canada we have abortion rights thanks to his efforts, efforts judged by his critics as driven by a profit motive:

    ||In 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was enacted as part of the Canadian Constitution. Morgentaler was charged again in 1983 in Ontario for procuring illegal miscarriages. He was acquitted by a jury, but the verdict was reversed by the Court of Appeal for Ontario. The case was then sent to the Supreme Court of Canada. He was acquitted once again, and the Canadian Supreme Court declared the law he was convicted under to be in violation of the Charter and thus unconstitutional in the case of R. v. Morgentaler 1988 (1 S.C.R. 30). *This ruling by Justice Brian Dickson essentially ended all statutory restrictions on abortion in Canada.*||

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Morgentaler#Judicial_and_political_battle

    I don’t know if you heard of Paul Magder in Toronto. He fought and got struck down the “Lord’s Day Act” which prevented commerce on Sunday. Magder certainly had a profit motive, he wanted to sell fur coats on Sunday. I certainly enjoy Sundays a lot more now thanks to him.

    And whether or not a doctor is funded out of pocket or by the state, the doctor is a private business (or he can run his office as one) and he tries to make a profit delivering health care. Do you agree doctors should be able to make a reasonable profit delivering health care?

    ||Which is why ideologues, such as yourself ||

    I think it’s unfair to call me an ideologue (“an impractical idealist”) when all through this I’ve been arguing for a balance between free enterprise and regulation (which is what western democracies seem to work so hard to achieve). I’ve stated quite plainly that self interest needs to be balanced with the public good, via social pressure and legal pressure. It’s your opinion, and you’re welcome to it, but I’ll leave it up to the readers of this Dr. N. post if I’m being an ideologue.

    ||Corporations do cast votes using politicians||

    It wasn’t my point that corporations don’t influence politics. I was merely pointing out people do have a vote. People can choose leaders and if leaders ignore the public good too much they can cast them out. Lobbying is a perennial problem in the USA and some politicians ride to power promising to constrain such influence.

    ||Dude, do you seriously not understand just how many technological (and medical) innovations come out of military and academic research (this computer you’re using, for one tiny example)? ||

    The computer I’m using certainly used research from those sources. That I can use one today without needing a Phd in math wasn’t, however, a result of such research but was a result of profit motive (Microsoft and Dell). That you can use the internet and it is still not restricted to academic use is because of a profit motive. This, of course, hearkens back to the argument above, that people using a profit motive can actually result in the rollback of regulation that is too restrictive and restrains freedoms and access to things that can improve the quality of life.

    Anyway, I never said I doubted a great number of breakthroughs come out of such. You made the claim “*most* technological innovations have come out of the military or academia”. Other than taking this claim on faith, I’m just wondering if there’s good evidence. I’m not sure if it’s Dr. N. or Dr. Crislip but one of them frequently makes the point that hearing “in my clinical experience” makes them cringe.

  48. weingon 21 Jan 2009 at 2:58 pm

    I wasn’t aware Steve Jobs and Wozniak and Bill Gates all worked worked for the military and under government contracts.

    There is definitely a role for government in capitalism and that is to be on the lookout for cheating, lying, or destroying competition by underhanded and illegal means.

  49. Fifion 21 Jan 2009 at 2:59 pm

    cwfong – Well we evolved to view things in a reward/punishment (or good/bad or tasty/toxic or pleasure/pain, to be most exact) way because it’s efficient in evolutionary terms. Our social systems came later and evolved out of how we think (many people still see the world in simplistic black/white either/or terms rather than being able to manage abstracting and complexity). Deception isn’t a human construct – one only has to look at a chamelion or stick insect to see (or not see) that! All kinds of animals have both evolved to deceive and to act deceptively when it’s to their advantage so it’s not a cultural thing but rather an evolutionary trait that is expressed in our cultures (seen as good/polite in some and as rude/dishonest in others, leading to many cross cultural misunderstandings between more collective and individualist cultures).

    Being in the “top spot” has both advantages and disadvantages (if we look at chimps, it’s less dominant male chimps who are social and share that remain in the troop as they age while the dominant antisocial chimp lasts on top for a while and then gets toppled from power and chased out of the troop…ultimately the less dominant chimps not only get to spread their seed but they get to live well and be loved…a similar dynamic seems to be true in humans). The less dominant chimps certainly deceive the dominant chimp over and over again much to their own advantage on many levels. Bonobos, also close cousins, deal with power and socializing slightly differently.

  50. Fifion 21 Jan 2009 at 3:12 pm

    weing – I’d check your sources and history if you think Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are the start all and the be all of computers (and invented them!) Heh, I remember my brother building a computer from a home kit waaay before you could buy a PC.

    Lots of fun pictures of cute old computers!
    http://www.blinkenlights.com/pc.shtml

    The internet evolved out of ARPA and was partly motivated by the launch of Sputnik (the first satellite) – this is were networked computers come from (non-networked computers being useful as calculators and word processing tools but not useful in all the ways people think of when they think “computer” since now that automatically included being networked).

  51. Fifion 21 Jan 2009 at 3:15 pm

    I’m no fan of the military but even I have to admit the huge role they’ve played in advancing technology that then finds its way into the lives of non-military citizens. Industry drives distribution and commodification (advertising and creating the desire or “need” for a new product) but doesn’t drive innovation nearly as much as those who believe that capitalism is democracy like to claim.

  52. mindmeon 21 Jan 2009 at 3:44 pm

    ||Industry drives distribution and commodification (advertising and creating the desire or “need” for a new product) but doesn’t drive innovation nearly as much as those who believe that capitalism is democracy like to claim.||

    But fifi, you’re back to making this claim. We can match anecdote for anecdote and that won’t resolve anything. So I’m still curious where the empirical support is for it?

  53. Fifion 21 Jan 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Where’s the empirical support for your proposition? You made a claim on no evidence and just wriggle and avoid when your examples that are meant to prove your non-evidence based point (like the one about asking for a raise) are shown to be clearly incorrect based both in real world terms and in terms of evolutionary theory (since your ideas are based upon pseudo-Darwinian ideas about “competition” that have more to do with Ayn Rand than Darwin’s theory of evolution, and I would highly suspect are based in what motives you personally which you then assume means everyone else is as antisocial as you are).

    Your ideas aren’t based in anything but ideology. They certainly aren’t based upon evolution, an understanding of social animals and culture, or even basic cognitive science!

  54. weingon 21 Jan 2009 at 4:08 pm

    I still remember my first word processor. A pencil.

  55. Fifion 21 Jan 2009 at 4:11 pm

    weing – Well your brain would be the first! The pencil is just the “printer” :-)

  56. mindmeon 21 Jan 2009 at 4:27 pm

    ||Where’s the empirical support for your proposition?||

    I’ll ignore the tu quoque fallacy and ask you which of my claims you would like empirical support for? I will do my best.

    In terms of support, you asked for real world examples and then I gave three real world examples of where people pursing profit motives have won freedoms (Morgantaler, Paul Magder, business winning the right to access the internet).

    ||(since your ideas are based upon pseudo-Darwinian ideas about “competition” that have more to do with Ayn Rand than Darwin’s theory of evolution, and I would highly suspect are based in what motives you personally which you then assume means everyone else is as antisocial as you are).||

    Errr. Fifi, I’ve been nothing but polite to you in this debate. Calling me an Ayn Randian is just dog dirty nasty! :)

    Regarding my position on Ayn Rand, let me quote myself from my Toronto Sun column:

    http://www.geocities.com/lapetitelesson/cs/bestofpoleprole.htm

    ||The same cannot be said for the reader’s choice poll. Netizens were free to vote for their own favorites. Netizens slotted Captain Kirk in at 55. Readers actually placed Shatner above Henry James, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce. Vidal and company put Joyce’s Ulysses at number 1. Readers put Ayn Rand at number 1. I can only assume Random House threw a vote Rand’s way whenever some joker voted for Mein Kampf.||

    Anyway, competition is a real force, right? But I don’t think I argued that’s not the only dynamic that drives advances and social equality.

    I’m trying to find a common ground with you and asked you a few times if you think X sentence is reasonable. Let me post a few of them again:

    - “I think we all pursue what’s in our best interest *at times*. That’s not a bad thing *necessarily*. When it becomes a bad thing there are ways to control it: social and legal pressure. Would you agree in principle?”

    - Drug companies and CAM should not be able to market anything they want. They need to be balanced by an FDA or similar public body. But I also recognize not all regulation is good regulation and can be restrictive. Would you agree to that last sentence?

    - And whether or not a doctor is funded out of pocket or by the state, the doctor is a private business (or he can run his office as one) and he tries to make a profit delivering health care. Do you agree doctors should be able to make a reasonable profit delivering health care?

  57. cwfongon 21 Jan 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Fifi, you said “cwfong – Well we evolved to view things in a reward/punishment (or good/bad or tasty/toxic or pleasure/pain, to be most exact) way because it’s efficient in evolutionary terms.”

    But that doesn’t change the probability that something must have preceded the evolution of a punishment mechanism – which could well have been aggression, selfishness and/or deception. Certainly punishment didn’t come before there was any behavior to punish -punishment had either a deterrent aspect or came to life directly from the supernatural. Which in fact is what our primitive brains were fashioned to believe.
    You refer to good and bad, and we have never understood the nature of that dichotomy. Hence again the appeal to the supernatural for relief.
    Some have said the essential purpose of belief is to fortify our hopes and pacify our uncertainties. We hope that our natures are fundamentally good, yet clearly some are not. We ask and expect their/our makers to correct mistakes which could only have occurred with their empowerment.

  58. Fifion 21 Jan 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Morgentaler wasn’t pursuing profit – clearly you have no clue about the history of the legalization of abortion in Canada or Dr Morgentaler. The internet wasn’t created by business, nor was this its first use.

    cfwong – Punishment is merely pain, reward is merely pleasure. Pain makes us avoid activities that cause harm, pleasure moves us towards them (eating, sex, lolling about in the sun, love). Punishment=pain=death=bad and reward=pleasure=life/survival=good. It’s not a particularly human thing. Making up stories about it and subverting these drives towards pleasure and away from pain is though! (Or at least seems to be…)

  59. cwfongon 21 Jan 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Except that where there may be eggs in the sky, there is apparently no great chicken to properly lay them.

  60. Fifion 21 Jan 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Some info on Dr Morgetaler and the history of the legalization of abortion in Canada.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Morgentaler

  61. cwfongon 21 Jan 2009 at 4:59 pm

    And again, life arguably was not born with an ability to feel pain. Pain evolved as a deterrent, as pleasure evolved for purposes of incitement (or excitement if you prefer).

  62. cwfongon 21 Jan 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Someone wrote that initially there was likely nothing in an organism that senses pain, but at some point, the organism adapts to avoid destructive responses to its probes – such as destruction of the probing mechanism itself.

    Someone else wrote that an unfortunate aspect of the evolutionary process is the necessity for pain as a “signaling” mechanism for avoidance of danger. We have unfortunately evolved with no mechanism for the avoidance of pain in danger’s absence, and for its prompt abatement after the danger has passed or after the window of time in which danger could be evaded has closed.

    I don’t necessarily with every it of that, but it’s food for thought.

  63. mindmeon 21 Jan 2009 at 5:19 pm

    ||Morgentaler wasn’t pursuing profit – clearly you have no clue about the history of the legalization of abortion in Canada or Dr Morgentaler. The internet wasn’t created by business, nor was this its first use.||

    Regarding the internet, I didn’t claim the internet was created by business. I used this as an example of business pursuing profit, getting restrictive regulation changed, and now we can all enjoy the benefits.

    Morgentaler was certainly accused by the pro-life movement of pursing profits. He currently owns six private abortion clinics (according to sources from that wiki link). Is he providing abortions at cost?

    And you ignored my example of Paul Magder wanting to sell on Sunday and getting the Lord’s Day Act struck down.

    http://www.religlaw.org/template.php?id=1149&PHPSESSID=71afc9af9164b81d4ca9bebe92b15470

    My examples illustrate cases where either a profit motive (or one claimed by opponents) have resulted in ill conceived regulation being struck down.

    So let me pose to you again:

    - Drug companies and CAM should not be able to market anything they want. They need to be balanced by an FDA or similar public body. But I also recognize not all regulation is good regulation and can be restrictive. Would you agree to that last sentence?

  64. cwfongon 21 Jan 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Fifi, to clarify, I should add that pain would have initially been a deterrent to ourselves (or the organism itself) for avoidance of aggression, for example, and only later, when we had found a way, would it have been applied to deter the aggression or aggressor itself.

  65. Fifion 21 Jan 2009 at 5:40 pm

    mindme – What anti-abortionists claim about Dr Morgentaler is irrelevant to what motivated him, particularly considering the accusations come from the same people who bombed clinics and shot doctors. He fought for and won equal and free access to safe abortion for all women.

    Private business is the biggest threat to the freedom of the internet that exists and have launched the biggest attacks on the fair use of content and copyright. Trying to paint private enterprise as the liberator of the internet is like trying to claim Shell Oil are environmentalists!

    I’m not sure what “freedom” you think was earned by taking away a guaranteed day off for workers. The “freedom” to shop on Sunday? While I’m neither here nor there about shopping on Sundays, it’s more of a boon for business than a social one. (It’s generally not particularly good for workers, though I guess it’s a boon for people who consider shopping a social activity and have money to burn.)

  66. mindmeon 21 Jan 2009 at 5:51 pm

    ||mindme – What anti-abortionists claim about Dr Morgentaler is irrelevant to what motivated him, particularly considering the accusations come from the same people who bombed clinics and shot doctors. He fought for and won equal and free access to safe abortion for all women.||

    And he’s certainly profited from it. Neither of us can look in his head and say he was fighting the fight purely on humanitarian grounds, for purely a profit motive, or some mixture. I personally believe he had two motives.

    ||Private business is the biggest threat to the freedom of the internet that exists and have launched the biggest attacks on the fair use of content and copyright. Trying to paint private enterprise as the liberator of the internet is like trying to claim Shell Oil are environmentalists!||

    You’re mixing two issues. Private ISPs pushed to get on the net and made the net available to you and I. The DMCA and the like is another issue. But at the same time, DMCA is also opposed by other for profit concerns. Napster back during the day wasn’t fighting for consumer rights. Right?

    ||I’m not sure what “freedom” you think was earned by taking away a guaranteed day off for workers.||

    All workers are still guaranteed time off. No time off was taken away. If people who worked five days in retail now have to work seven, well, I’ve never heard of any. I could be wrong. Would be a simple matter to prove me wrong.

    All that was changed was a religiously motivated “common pause day”. I like that I can shop on sunday and not have to pack it all into saturday. Seems freedom to me.

    Anyway, is it possible you could answer the three questions posed? Thanks.

  67. weingon 21 Jan 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Fifi,

    Of course he was motivated by profit. If someone tells you they are not, don’t believe them. To paraphrase the French, “Chercher la money!”

  68. cwfongon 21 Jan 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Perhaps the French, always being a bit askew in their philosophy, should have said, Vive le système de récompense.

  69. cwfongon 21 Jan 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Although it is said that Montaigne influenced Shakespeare and that the Voltaire Philosophical Dictionary is a wonder to behold.

  70. mindmeon 22 Jan 2009 at 10:05 am

    Another case of over restrictive legislation being done away with by a profit driven motive:

    In the USA, at least, Bell had a monopoly over the phone system, to the point where it was illegal to connect anything but a Bell phone to the phone lines. A for profit company challenged it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carterfone

    Customers no longer had to lease a phone from Bell. We were now free to use modems and fax machines.

    I think it’s pretty clear that there is sufficient real world evidence (which, if I’m not mistaken fifi required), in addition to my hypothetical case, that a company challenging regulation with nothing more than a profit motive in mind can also result in loosening bad regulation.

    To wit: it would not be fair to say that challenging regulation with an intent to increase profits always is a bad thing or always comes with great cost to the public.

  71. Fifion 22 Jan 2009 at 12:09 pm

    weing – Why do you assume everyone’s motivated by profit? Is because it’s the only thing that motivates and drives you so you can’t conceive of people having other motives or drives? Are there no rewards except money that get you motivated? (And what does money represent to you…personal power? The ability to have power over others? Safety? Freedom? Being of value to others?Money is just an abstract concept – it’s symbolic and it’s meaning/value is unstable, as many people who lost out in the recent stock market shennanigans discovered – what does this abstract symbol really represent for you?) Does profit trump everything for you including compassion and ethics? Do you only adhere to ethical guidelines because not doing so would threaten your profits if you were found out and lost your license?

    Having met and spoken with Dr Morgentaler a number of times (anecdote alert), it’s pretty apparent you’re simply projecting your own greedy motivitions onto him. No doubt you think Medicins Sans Frontières is all about profit and greed too. Or this blog is really just exists so that the authors can make more money or are afraid that they’ll make less money if they don’t support science-based medicine, for instance.

    mindme – You’ve proven nothing and even your examples where you claim that greed creates social freedom have been shown to be hollow (not to mention in some cases hilarious since you’re pointing out areas where corporations have been making HUGE attacks on personal freedom and trying to suffocate and intimidate individuals using the hefty weight of their corporate legal team, while also using their great wealth and power to try to influence governments).

    As for computers, the nerds are revolutionizing business models right left and centre and you old business fogeys are running to keep up (and throwing money at them, my friends thank you :-) ) The Creative Commons and people working collectively drives innovation – it’s one reason there are so many collaborations between science, art and industry at the moment – these innovations are then adopted by corporations (clearly you spend more time consuming product than you do in the wired world). Corporations are seriously threatened and afraid of the move by many young people to open source models, which is why they try to shut them down (and then adopt them, as in the case of Apple – Steve Jobs being a big fan and promoter of medical woo by the way). In a totally free market we’d all have no choice but Microsoft (since Apple and all other players would have been crushed by the monopoly long ago – as Microsoft so disably proves). It’s rarely the better product that wins, it’s generally the one with the most marketing (VHS beating out Beta is one example).

    As for Bell in Canada. That’s a very long topic (and having recently done some work for them I’m quite well versed in their history). If it had only been about profit Canada would never have had a national telephone system (let alone an affordable one). Certainly deregulation hasn’t made phone service in Canada cheaper or better. Communications technologies are integrally linked to nation building (and the military, for obvious reasons).

  72. weingon 22 Jan 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Fifi,
    For the same reason that I don’t believe the people who claim to live without eating. My hypothesis is that people always act in their self-interest monetary or otherwise. They may give whatever ostensible reason for their actions but if you look hard enough you will always find secondary gain. You seem to think that it’s a bad thing. I simply think it is our natural state and accept it. As I’ve mentioned before, I do not believe in lying, cheating, stealing, or using force to destroy your competition. I believe that it is natural to do it and the legitimate role of government and regulations is to search out and prevent these from occurring. Unfortunately, regulations are being used to steal from the taxpayer and drive away competition for those in power. Anyway, I don’t see what this has to do with the great interview that Dr. Novella had.

  73. Fifion 22 Jan 2009 at 1:09 pm

    weing – This is your hypothesis and belief, just because you have evidence that your own motivation is always selfish and faith that your hypothesis is true because it reflects your personal observations and experience, doesn’t make it so. I see you’re now changing the issue somewhat by making it about “self interest” not “profit” (they are not the same thing at all, I’m not sure why you’d conflate the two – why are you doing so now when that clearly wasn’t what you proposed earlier?) Your original assertion was this “Of course [Dr Morgentaler] was motivated by profit. If someone tells you they are not, don’t believe them. To paraphrase the French, “Chercher la money!”

    You seem to be totally ignoring the fact that survival of individuals – in evolutionary terms – is still secondary to the survival of the herd/species. There are ample evolutionary reasons – just to move this beyond your self-affirming personal observations – for us to not to be motivated primarily by money (the most obvious being that money is just an abstract symbol that is sometimes – but not always – meant to represent other real world things and that it doesn’t even exist in all cultures or throughout human history). Even with your attempts to try to change the meaning of what you originally asserted (to mean “self interest” not “financial profit”), your claims about human nature aren’t supported by the increasing weight of science which shows that group interest and peer pressure are incredibly powerful (not surprisingly considering we’re social animals). Ironically, advertising and industry often coopt this social mechanism to sell people crap they don’t need and didn’t want until they were manipulated into feeling and then thinking they did. You’re promoting a very pseudo-Darwinian idea of competition and human nature that’s really pretty pseudoscientific weing.

  74. weingon 22 Jan 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Fifi,
    You are right, I did conflate the two but I will not apologize for mixing up “self interest” with “financial profit”. My “pseudo-Darwinian views” are based on my cynicism and experience and not science.

  75. Fifion 22 Jan 2009 at 1:28 pm

    weing – You also haven’t explained how Medecins Sans Frontières is all about financial profit, or how this blog is…. Please, go right ahead, I’m waiting….

  76. Fifion 22 Jan 2009 at 1:42 pm

    weing – Please, it certainly didn’t look like a mix up, it looked like a change of terms designed to make it appear that you really meant something other than you actually wrote. I’m not looking for an apology after you’ve been called out for trying to change what you said after the fact, I’m just looking for honest conversation about an important issue. Thank you at least for being honest about conflating the self interest and financial profit (since obviously there would be situations where financial profit ISN’T actually in one’s best self interest). So, ultimately, all you’re really promoting is a self serving ideology about economics based on your own personal greed and cynicism about others because of who you are?

    My views on human nature and what motivates us are informed by science (this informs my view on economics and social structures). We don’t have to agree but please stop throwing around “human nature” as your evidence or argument on a science-based medicine blog when the science contradicts your assertions about human nature.

  77. weingon 22 Jan 2009 at 1:51 pm

    I don’t know enough about Medecins Sans Frontieres to be able to tell you. Would physician livelihoods change if everyone decided to see a homeopath or acupuncturist for their medical needs? Would patients’ lives change? My simplistic view is that the alignment of the self-interest of the physician and the self-interest of the patient allows us both to survive.

  78. weingon 22 Jan 2009 at 1:55 pm

    “(since obviously there would be situations where financial profit ISN’T actually in one’s best self interest)”
    I can think of one. It’s where a bank is being robbed and one of the executives slips something into the hand of another executive. When asked what it was, he told him it was the $100 he owed him.

  79. Fifion 22 Jan 2009 at 2:04 pm

    weing – Really? I call doctors who put their greed and self interests first quacks (or cosmetic surgeons). I find it odd that you’d propose the patient’s self interest somehow balances out a physicians self interest – after all, patients who visit SCAM artists believe it’s in their highest self interest. So, in your magical world built on “cycnism” (and very obviously more than a large dollop of ideological romanticism), does the patient have a best interest outside of your self interest and their own self interest which may be as woefully misinformed about the science as you were in this case?

  80. Fifion 22 Jan 2009 at 2:07 pm

    weing – You obviously didn’t know enough about Dr Morgentaler to make the assertions about him you made, why stop making ungrounded assertions now? Seriously, if you’re convinced everyone is purely motivated by financial gain it shouldn’t be too hard to show how Medecins Sans Frontièrs or this blog is….

  81. Fifion 22 Jan 2009 at 2:10 pm

    weing – You can’t be a very good businessman yourself (greed often does get in the way of profit) if you can’t even imagine a situation where it’s actually in one’s self interest to lose/make less/give away money. Do you follow ANY cognitive science research?

  82. weingon 22 Jan 2009 at 2:20 pm

    So if you are in an airplane the it runs into trouble and your losing oxygen fast, do you be greedy and put on the oxygen mask first and then on your infant sitting next to you or out of altruism place it on them first?

    I still don’t know what this has to do with Dr. Novella being on NPR and see this as a digression.

    I’m sorry if I can’t understand your last question.

  83. Fifion 22 Jan 2009 at 2:27 pm

    mindme – Corporations were commissioned by the US government, they didn’t jump on that wacky new “internet” idea because they saw a commercial potential – they had to be commissioned by the government to engage and given the basic infrastructure. As it stands, the North American infrastructure is actually really crappy and second rate (for both the internet and cell) and American customers get squeezed, ripped off and censored by their ISPs like nobody’s business – well, it’s profitable business for the corporations – but that’s what happens when it’s all about immediate profit.

    “Prior to ISPs, access to the Internet required an account at a university or government agency and a working knowledge of Unix. The Internet began accepting commercial traffic in the early 1990s, but commercial users had to honor the peering protocol of swapping data free of charge. The National Science Foundation commissioned four private companies in 1994 to build public Internet access points, and in 1995 the federal government closed its own Internet backbone. Those four public access points—located in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, New Jersey, and Chicago—came under the control of WorldCom, Pacific Bell, Sprint, and Ameritech. As Internet traffic increased, those public access points became clogged, and the major telecommunications companies began building their own faster, private access points and building out the Internet backbone. For a while the larger backbone providers established peering agreements with smaller ISPs, whereby they would swap Internet traffic for free. In 1997 UUNET, Sprint, and AT&T stopped peering with smaller ISPs and required them to pay fees to gain access to their networks.”

  84. Fifion 22 Jan 2009 at 2:46 pm

    weing – Your airplane oxygen mask is just dumb since it’s in the child’s best interests you can breath – it’s a practical thing for the adult to put the oxygen mask on first, it has nothing to do with instinctual greed (nor does it in any way confirm your ideological idea that everyone is primarily motivated by money). Quite the opposite, in fact, since you’re only showing that some parents can be instinctively altruistic to the point of self sacrifice. Now, this may be in the best interests of the species and a genetic line but it’s not in the individual’s highest self interest (and once again, you’re trying to divert from your original assertions about money and make a more diffuse argument that is very far from your original assertions about how everyone else must be motived by fiscal greed simply because you are yourself).

    weing – Well you leapt in to state you point and align yourself with mindme to keep this topic going in this thread so trying to divert attention away from this topic once the ground started to loosen beneath your “cynical” position is just, well, diversionary. (Realistically though, your ideology is really more of a romantic one than a pragmatic – or cynical – one since it proposes some magical “balancing” out based on “human nature” while ignoring science in favor of a pseudo-Darwinian ideological belief about human nature). It’s amazing to me how people can rail on against ID but then indulge in faith based economic and social ideologies!

  85. Fifion 22 Jan 2009 at 2:49 pm

    weing – If you can’t understand something please just ask me to clarify. Was it the one about whether you actually keep up with any cognitive science research or not? Seems like a valid question considering that this blog is called Neurologica. Or are you retreating into jokes and being a doofus as a way to obsfucate again?

  86. weingon 22 Jan 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Fifi,
    No, the prior question.
    “So, in your magical world built on “cycnism” (and very obviously more than a large dollop of ideological romanticism), does the patient have a best interest outside of your self interest and their own self interest which may be as woefully misinformed about the science as you were in this case?”

    Anyway, I like jokes. I was hoping they clarify rather than obfuscate.

    I do know what a loss leader is. Is that what you mean by losing money in order to make more money?

  87. cwfongon 22 Jan 2009 at 2:58 pm

    That’s because the executive profited from inflicting pain, and avoiding pain, and avoiding paying a debt, and profiting from writing it off as stolen funds as well. And was clearly admired for his skillful duplicity.
    And thus became the group leader without whom the group would not remain adaptively competitive.

  88. cwfongon 22 Jan 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Oops, that was supposed to be a response to this:
    ” “(since obviously there would be situations where financial profit ISN’T actually in one’s best self interest)”
    I can think of one. It’s where a bank is being robbed and one of the executives slips something into the hand of another executive. When asked what it was, he told him it was the $100 he owed him.”

  89. cwfongon 22 Jan 2009 at 3:10 pm

    But consider that to the extent that you are both likely to be wrong in some wee aspect of your scientific acumen, your mutual resistance might at some point be futile.

  90. Fifion 22 Jan 2009 at 3:20 pm

    weing – I’ll try to be clearer…

    1-Doctor’s self interest (you didn’t indicate whether you meant short or long term self interest so this could be anything from curing to killing the patient depending on the context – “self interest” is certainly the kind of self justification/logic that enables doctors to engage in torture and unethical research, peddle woo using their license to do so and so on).

    2-Patient’s self interest (this could be anything from refusing medical treatment in favor of CAM or suicide to being cured).

    3-The patient’s best interest – this sometimes conflicts with the patient’s self interest if they’re most interested in CAM but need real medicine or psychotic. This is generally what ethical doctors aim to provide, treatment that is in the patient’s best interest.

    So, I’m asking you if the patient’s self interest is always the same as what is in their best interest medically? The doctor/patient relationship is an unequal power relationship, do you think doctors assume certain responsibilities along with the power over others? Or do you think it’s doctor vs patient competing for individual self interests that may or may not be the best treatment for the patient?

    Sorry if I’m introducing some new concepts vis a vis ethics to you here and it’s become confusing!

  91. Fifion 22 Jan 2009 at 3:31 pm

    cwfong – I’m open to being proven wrong and I’m not proposing I understand everything and what it comes wrapped in. I’m more interested in the question at this point than trying to claim I have answers (we all know the answer is 42!) – that’s why I follow the science rather than an economic or political ideology that makes pseudoscientific claims.

  92. mindmeon 22 Jan 2009 at 3:35 pm

    ||Having met and spoken with Dr Morgentaler a number of times (anecdote alert), it’s pretty apparent you’re simply projecting your own greedy motivitions onto him.||

    He does make a nice profit from his six clinics, I imagine. Anyway, that’s an argument from final consequences. The point is even if he was driven only by dollar signs in his eyes, the out come would have been the same.

    ||mindme – You’ve proven nothing and even your examples where you claim that greed creates social freedom have been shown to be hollow||

    I don’t agree. Also you’re creating a straw man of my position. I’m arguing cases where profit driven motives can help identify and roll back regulation that is too restrictive. I gave a very solid hypothetical example of politicians not heeding science and restricting childhood vaccines. The drug companies, profits in mind, would no doubt be a powerful force for a roll back of such regulations or even an implementation of such. You kind of just waved your hands at that and complained there were no real examples. I’ve supplied several. You’ve moved the goal post on a few of them. For example, Sunday shopping (which was a religious law in Ontario) you claimed this took “away a guaranteed day off for workers”. It did no such thing, of course. Ontario labor law is quite specific that no employer can require a worker to work more than 48 hours a week.

    ||not to mention in some cases hilarious since you’re pointing out areas where corporations have been making HUGE attacks on personal freedom||

    No I didn’t.

    ||As for Bell in Canada. ||

    The caterphone example was Bell in the USA. If you could address that. I think you’re failing to see I’m making some very specific claims and using some very specific examples. You respond by throwing a wide bucket of mud, hoping some will stick.

    ||mindme – Corporations were commissioned by the US government, they didn’t jump on that wacky new “internet” idea because they saw a commercial potential – they had to be commissioned by the government to engage and given the basic infrastructure.||

    No. I was talking about initial private ISPs that wanted to connect to the backbone and charge for the service.

    I dare ask “what is your goal post for a profit driven roll back of regulation that’s positive” but I’m still hoping you’ll still answer the three questions already posed so I’ll put that one aside. Also, still curious if you can back up the claim about most innovation coming out of the military/university system with hard data. You claimed I wasn’t doing the same but I think I’ve been working pretty hard to back my claims with evidence. I’m sure we’d all appreciate you doing the same. Thanks.

  93. Fifion 22 Jan 2009 at 4:02 pm

    mindme – Your claim that greed results in freedom and the profit motive is the great liberator has not been proven (whether you believe so or not), it’s actually been shot full of holes since you haven’t shown that greed has liberated anyone. You sound like some http://www.healthfreedomusa.com promoter.

    No, if Dr Morgentaler were driven by dollar signs he wouldn’t have gone through the struggle which included losing his license, having his life threatened (while other doctors were being murdered) and all the other very unprofitable things with no guarantee of a happy or profitable ending.

    Your example of ISPs also falls flat since it was a governmental initiative not a commercial one (business was hired to do it, they didn’t do it themselves, they’ve been trying to control it and have been reducing freedoms as they go – once again it’s volunteer activists like EFF and ethical politicians who will keep the internet somewhat free). ISPs – which you brought up – are on a rampage to try to squeeze customers, control what they can access and so on…all motivated by greed.

    As for Sunday shopping (the weakest of your offerings, talk about clutching at straws), I’d debate how much “freedom” that brings in a social sense. Certainly it was hotly debated here in Quebec – not because of religion since we’re much less religious on the legal front than Ontaria with all your weird Protestant liquor laws and all – mainly because Sunday was considered family time and it meant that workers could be pressured into working Sundays (which, of course, they are – those 48 hours can be any day so once again you’re not even proving your point).

    Trying to coopt the activism by governments and individuals and groups and claim their legal victories for corporations is the most ludicrous bit of spin I’ve seen recently. I’m sure you have been working very hard to back up your claims, just not very successfully. I also think I’ve backed up my claims. Obviously this is pointless.

  94. Mjhavokon 22 Jan 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Just listening to you now on Jackson Exchange. I got the podcast from iTunes. It is the 16/01/09 episode. You are doing great so far. The interviewer seems a bit clueless but he is at least letting you get a lot of air time.

  95. mindmeon 22 Jan 2009 at 4:48 pm

    ||The National Science Foundation commissioned four private companies in 1994 to build public Internet access point||

    Saying the NSF commissioned ISPs doesn’t imply the government had to bring the ISPs on board. It merely states they gave 4 ISPs an initial right. Private for profit ISPs were chomping to get access to the net before 1994.

    ||you haven’t shown that greed has liberated anyone||

    Wanting a profit is not necessarily greedy. You will admit you do not charge your clients break-even costs.

    Anyway, Fifi, clearly we have a difference of opinion on how effective profit motive is in rolling back regulation that is too restrictive. Maybe I should ask you for what you would consider a valid goal post. Until then, I’ll leave it to the readers of this thread.

    Who thinks I’ve established my point? Who agrees with fifi?

    Anyway, could you give me your position on the three questions posed?

  96. mindmeon 22 Jan 2009 at 4:53 pm

    ||No, if Dr Morgentaler were driven by dollar signs he wouldn’t have gone through the struggle which included losing his license, having his life threatened (while other doctors were being murdered) and all the other very unprofitable things with no guarantee of a happy or profitable ending.||

    Sounds a bit like “therefore jesus must be the son of god” type arguments. People sacrifice a lot for profit. What was Christopher Columbus’ motivation?

  97. cwfongon 22 Jan 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Fifi,
    Almost all the arguments presented here that concern motivation are being made on an “either this or that basis” except for an occasional “this trumps that” basis, when in fact all motives are mixed and until we know more about the basic starter ingredient for any situation appropriate concoction, one can heatedly debate the issue, but the cows just won’t come home (metaphor mix intended).
    I sense an ideology behind every position taken so far, for each of which the best definition would be “theorizing of a visionary or impractical nature.”
    And I’ll grant that you may have the best grasp of the science as it stands today, but I tried to demonstrate through my questions that where basic motivation is concerned, the theory is yet to be complete in the sense that ideology had and continues to have a prominant place in its shaping. (The mere mention of ethics as a determinant of proper behavior begs one hell of a lot of questions.)

    You are in a place where you are largely satisfied with the answers as they stand. I suggest that you should move down a bit from that spot. The others are probably out of their depth, but my sense is that you can dive a bit deeper.

  98. mindmeon 22 Jan 2009 at 5:43 pm

    ||As for Sunday shopping (the weakest of your offerings, talk about clutching at straws), I’d debate how much “freedom” that brings in a social sense. Certainly it was hotly debated here in Quebec – not because of religion since we’re much less religious on the legal front than Ontaria with all your weird Protestant liquor laws and all – mainly because Sunday was considered family time and it meant that workers could be pressured into working Sundays (which, of course, they are – those 48 hours can be any day so once again you’re not even proving your point).||

    You make the assumption here that there also exists no one who wants to work on Sunday. But that’s clearly not true. I, for one, always enjoyed a Sunday shift in retail when going to university. I’m certain some high school kid working a Sunday shift at Future Shop doesn’t mind.

    *A right to time off* can be protected in law but it doesn’t have to come at the expense of those who want a *right to work* on the day of *their choosing*.

    Paul Magder’s profit motive won that right.

    If bosses making people work 7 days a week, 6.58 hours a day to their maximum of 48 hours, was such a problem in Ontario, I would think by now we’d see a law that amends it to “no more than 5 (or 6) consecutive days in a row”. You would appear to be conjuring up a problem that does not exist.

    ||Your claim that greed results in freedom and the profit motive is the great liberator||

    Also, again, I don’t make this point. You keep making straw men out of what I’m saying. I’m merely stating a profit motive is but one ally in any fight to remove or amend restrictive regulation (assuming you agree that not all regulation is 100% perfect). If governments listened to anti-vaxxers, the drug companies would not be the only dogs in the fight. They would, however, be a motivated ally.

  99. Fifion 22 Jan 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Yeah, crappy retail jobs are full of people who *want* to work on Sunday and can afford to say “no” to their boss (and they’re all filled with kids eager to make pocket money). You really do live in some fantasy world, don’t you? Whatever the case, it’s hardly some sort of civil and social freedom, let alone a human right, won for the people by corporations. What was “won” was the right of corporations to sell on Sundays, it wasn’t a public “right”. (What was lost for workers was guaranteed one day a week off on the weekends to spend with their spouse and kids.) Trying to spin it as a human/social right just shows how desperate you are to find something, anything, good that corporations trying to get rid of regulations has done for people. It’s not like industry has managed to change Ontario’s liquor laws – now that might be something worth raising a glass to (even after a Sunday shift at their crappy job serving people like you who can afford not to work on Sundays). Why you think it being a “religious” law makes any difference, only you know. (The reality is that it was just a day off for most people where they’re not obliged to work or do domestic chores like shop – the big ruckus about it out East and in Quebec had nothing to do with religion, it had to do with being forced to work on Sundays – without even getting overtime.)

    Please, your claims about Big Pharma protecting medicine are laughable – do you even read this blog? If governments didn’t regulate there wouldn’t be vaccination programs or affordable drugs. What fight do you think drug companies are the only dogs fighting? Anti-vaxxers? Hardly, the biggest push back against the anti-vaxxers I’ve seen is by people doing it because they give a crap about people and public health (the biggest support anti-vaxxers have got is from corporations who love promoting Jenny McCarthy…haven’t seen a single corporation try to take her down yet…leave them too open to libel and that’s just bad business). I haven’t seen drug companies do anything, they don’t seem to have any dogs in the fight and are no different from Big SCAM apart from being regulated so they’re forced to be more ethical (but even that doesn’t stop them from fudging studies, it’s not regulations that keep them in check but medical researchers and doctors who put science before profit who revealed their lack of ethics). So far corporate healthcare industry lobbying has resulted in much more damage to both the public and doctors than it has any form of social, political or personal freedom (this includes unregulated supplements, direct-to-public advertising and feeding doctors false information about pharmaceuticals thereby eroding patient trust – the lack of ethical behavior by Big Pharma has tainted the whole field of medicine almost as much as the attacks on medicine by Big SCAM).

  100. weingon 23 Jan 2009 at 12:06 am

    Fifi,
    Now I see why I was confused. There are multiple questions there and I don’t even know where to begin to address them, never mind the hidden implicit assumptions. You mentioned you are following the science and not a political or economic ideology. What science would that be? I have studied a little economics on my own. I’m sure it shows. It’s not the money it’s the things that the money can get you. I don’t know of anyone who sells a product or service at below cost, unless they are independently wealthy or they have a hidden source of income. I’ve asked my employees if they would work for me if I couldn’t pay them. What do you think their answer was? I don’t blame them and see nothing wrong with them looking out for their self interest. I suppose I could call them greedy employees and then I could call myself a greedy doctor. I am simply going by my experience and if there is a science proving my experience wrong, I’d like to know. And no, I haven’t cracked open a psychology book since 1974 unless you count Predictably Irrational.

  101. mindmeon 23 Jan 2009 at 10:00 am

    ||Yeah, crappy retail jobs are full of people who *want* to work on Sunday||

    When I was in high school and university and worked a retail job, I did not judge it as “crappy”. I was happy to have the work and seeing I could do a good job instilled the young person I was with a sense of pride. I don’t think you should be so quick to pass judgment. Some people clearly are happy for the work. Do you really believe the high school students working at Hollister on Sunday are miserable?

    ||and can afford to say “no” to their boss (and they’re all filled with kids eager to make pocket money). You really do live in some fantasy world, don’t you? Whatever the case, it’s hardly some sort of civil and social freedom, let alone a human right, won for the people by corporations. ||

    A chance to work on any day of your choosing without having one person’s religion dictate when you can’t work? That sounds like freedom to me. Anyone aside from fifi think that doesn’t sound like a freedom?

    ||What was “won” was the right of corporations to sell on Sundays, it wasn’t a public “right”. (What was lost for workers was guaranteed one day a week off on the weekends to spend with their spouse and kids.) Trying to spin it as a human/social right just shows how desperate you are to find something, anything, good that corporations trying to get rid of regulations has done for people. ||

    Again I disagree. I’ve challenged your notion that workers in Ontario have been robbed of appropriate and guaranteed time off. You’ve not supported it.

    ||Please, your claims about Big Pharma protecting medicine are laughable – do you even read this blog? ||

    Another straw man. You really need to start reading what I actually write.

    ||If governments didn’t regulate there wouldn’t be vaccination programs or affordable drugs. ||

    Again, I’ve never argued government shouldn’t regulate. We both agree government regulation can be a good thing.

    ||What fight do you think drug companies are the only dogs fighting? Anti-vaxxers? Hardly, the biggest push back against the anti-vaxxers I’ve seen is by people doing it because they give a crap about people and public health (the biggest support anti-vaxxers have got is from corporations who love promoting Jenny McCarthy…haven’t seen a single corporation try to take her down yet||
    Where have I been claiming this?

    ||No, if Dr Morgentaler were driven by dollar signs he wouldn’t have gone through the struggle which included losing his license, having his life threatened (while other doctors were being murdered) and all the other very unprofitable things with no guarantee of a happy or profitable ending.||

    Let me again return to this. My claim is whether the doctor had dollar signs in his eyes or the best interests of women and their reproductive rights, the end result would have been the same. The law would have been over turned. Threats to one’s life and legal threats don’t necessarily stop one driven by a profit motive. Larry Flynt is evidence of that.

    It is not inconceivable to me a person could think there was great profit in private abortion clinics and think they had a reasonable chance of over turning Canadian law. The person would have suffered all the slings and arrows Morgentaler suffered. Would those slings and arrows cause a profit driven person to give up the fight? You’re not suggesting that are you?

    People do take great risks for great profits imagined.

    Let me again repeat my questions to you. I’m going to add a few more you’ve been dodging:

    - “I think we all pursue what’s in our best interest *at times*. That’s not a bad thing *necessarily*. When it becomes a bad thing there are ways to control it: social and legal pressure. Would you agree in principle?”

    - Drug companies and CAM should not be able to market anything they want. They need to be balanced by an FDA or similar public body. But I also recognize not all regulation is good regulation and can be restrictive. Would you agree to that last sentence?

    - And whether or not a doctor is funded out of pocket or by the state, the doctor is a private business (or he can run his office as one) and he tries to make a profit delivering health care. Do you agree doctors should be able to make a reasonable profit delivering health care?

    - You’ve claimed *most* innovations come out of academia and military research. Other than a statement of faith, can you support this claim with empirical evidence?

    - I keep talking about people wanting a profit. You keep switching in the word “greed”. Do you believe wanting a reasonable profit is greed? You don’t charge your clients at cost, right? When does a desire for profit become greed?

    - *A right to time off* can be protected in law but it doesn’t have to come at the expense of those who want a *right to work* on the day of *their choosing*. Would you agree to this sentence?

    - The carterphone ended the American Bell monopoly on what people could attach to the Bell system. This paved the way for people being able to attach modems and set up BBSes and access the Internet from home. That sure seems like a right (even if it is a consumer right) won for all by a company pursuing a profit motive.

    But fifi, a word of advice. We’re no doubt on the same side on most of the issues here. We both want to get from X to Y. We have a different opinion on the best path. Do not take a difference in opinion as to the best path as evidence I don’t want to get to Y. Your path is not the only valid path. I hope you can consider that.

  102. Fifion 23 Jan 2009 at 10:47 am

    mindme – No, we’re not on the same side of the issue at all – you not only clearly haven’t been reading what I’ve written but that of others either if you think so. You think practicing medicine is like selling shoes or VCRs – which indicates you don’t know much about the practice of medicine or medical ethics (which, unlike “business ethics” aren’t considered inherently ironic and funny to pretend exist by everyone – including business people when they’re not in front of a judge).

    You can keep making up fantasies about what you think would happen if a doctor thought abortion should be legal and fought for it because they believe they can get rich performing abortions but it means nothing. The reality is that someone driven by profit/greed would simply move onto all the many more lucrative and easy ways for a Dr to make oodles of cash. Besides, corporations defining what is and isn’t a human right worth fighting for seems a little counterproductive to human rights in many areas. You have yet to give one example of real human rights being advanced by corporations and I’ve given you examples of the kinds of damage that corporations have done to the practice of medicine but you’ve yet to address one of them. Somehow I don’t think Sunday shopping for those who are privileged enough to choose their work hours balances out the damage done to the doctor/patient relationship by direct-to-consumer advertising, faking and hiding results of clinical research on pharmaceuticals, and continual corporate and industry attacks on science-based medicine, not to mention selling unregulated and sometimes deadly supplements and treatments to unwary consumers).

    Seriously, you’re clearly a privatizer who uses exactly the same logic and rhetoric as http://www.healthfreedomusa.org Not surprisingly, those interested in privatizing medicine in Canada have payed politicians like PM Stephen Harper big fat lobbying fees to try to corrupt the national and provincial political processes for the benefit of international corporations. Corporate lobbyists also made sure that there are no regulations on supplements.

  103. mindmeon 23 Jan 2009 at 11:13 am

    ||You think practicing medicine is like selling shoes or VCRs – which indicates you don’t know much about the practice of medicine or medical ethics (which, unlike “business ethics” aren’t considered inherently ironic and funny to pretend exist by everyone – including business people when they’re not in front of a judge).||

    Another straw man. Where have I been arguing this?

    ||You can keep making up fantasies about what you think would happen if a doctor thought abortion should be legal and fought for it because they believe they can get rich performing abortions but it means nothing. The reality is that someone driven by profit/greed would simply move onto all the many more lucrative and easy ways for a Dr to make oodles of cash. ||

    In your opinion. But clearly profit can be a powerful motivator to suffer slings and arrows. Did Columbus risk his life on a science mission or a profit mission?

    ||Besides, corporations defining what is and isn’t a human right worth fighting for seems a little counterproductive to human rights in many areas. ||

    I wish I could make you understand that’s not what I’m arguing. You can keep building up this straw man. I’ll say it again. Maybe you will understand this time:

    Regulation is not perfect. It can go too far. It has gone too far in the past (e.g., restricting abortion rights). (I keep asking you if this is a reasonable claim and you keep avoiding answering, so at this point I will just assume you agree.). You and I agree to this, right? Those with a profit motive can, in a multi pronged fight, be an ally. I gave you a small thought experiment where anti vaxxers win the political fight and how drug companies would be a powerful ally.

    ||You have yet to give one example of real human rights being advanced by corporations||

    But I have. You just hand wave it away. The right to plug a modem into a phone line. The right to work on a day of your choosing. These appear to be rights.

    ||and I’ve given you examples of the kinds of damage that corporations have done to the practice of medicine but you’ve yet to address one of them. ||

    Err because we both agree corporations have done damage and government needs to be the watchdog.

    ||Somehow I don’t think Sunday shopping for those who are privileged enough to choose their work hours balances out the damage done to the doctor/patient relationship by direct-to-consumer advertising, faking and hiding results of clinical research on pharmaceuticals, and continual corporate and industry attacks on science-based medicine, not to mention selling unregulated and sometimes deadly supplements and treatments to unwary consumers).||

    Right. Because I’ve not once argued the above.

    ||Seriously, you’re clearly a privatizer ||

    No. I’m not. You make a lot of assumptions.

  104. Fifion 23 Jan 2009 at 11:13 am

    weing – Er, do you think economics is “a science”?

    I’m not talking about psychology or “a science” (nice of you to try to fluff of what I was writing about in that way though), I’m talking about cognitive science (you may want to look into game theory as well)…kind of what this blog is partly geared towards. Are you seriously here with absolutely no interest in brain science and how the mind works? Have you not even looked at the research into reward, punishment, empathy and so on over the past decade or so? You spoke about “human nature” (in a particularly pseudo-Darwinian way that’s often called upon to justify certain economic philosophies) but you don’t actually follow the science regarding human nature and consider your subjective feelings about people to be evidence?

    I know lots of people who work for free, it’s called “volunteering” – then there’s all kinds of work that done and given away for free under the auspices of creative commons, not to mention all the open source software being created. You’d be surprised by how many young people are more interested in creative fulfilling work that is meaningful – though if you’re driven by money yourself you may not meet many of the community oriented folk of any age. Do you think the bloggers here are in it for the money or a profit motive even though they write for free? Or do you think they have genuine ethical reasons that have nothing to do with making more money for themselves?

  105. mindmeon 23 Jan 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Huh just today in the news we have another example of what I’m talking about:

    http://tech.yahoo.com/news/nm/20090121/wr_nm/us_usa_internet_pornography_2

    ||The law was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, booksellers, online magazine publishers and others. ACLU lawyers said the law criminalizes a large amount of valuable online speech that adults are entitled to communicate and receive.||

    Booksellers, I would imagine, fought this restrictive law because it would mean less profit. The classic argument goes a bookseller would have to carefully examine every book on the shelf, which means a bookseller would not stock many books and then could not sell very many books. Now certainly many booksellers are concerned with civil rights. But most booksellers did not go into the biz to fight for civil rights. They want to make a living. A profit.

    Now, notice for-profit booksellers are not the ONLY ones. They are one voice in a many headed attack on a clearly restrictive law. And this is exactly what I’m talking about.

  106. cwfongon 23 Jan 2009 at 5:53 pm

    The Piraha Indians in Brazil have no word in their language for anything equivalent to profit. They trade with outsiders mainly through a barter system with almost no understanding of the relative values of money. One would imagine they would have some concept of equal value when it comes to bartering, but even then this concept seems limited to one of utility rather than fairness, although fairness can be a factor if utility values are clearly askew. Among themselves there is little if any actual trade, which became a necessity only through contact with more sophisticated outsiders. What they do among themselves involves more of a resource sharing arrangement based on relative need.
    Profit is a cultural concept which has as much to do with changing the balance of power as with survival – and even then it has come to represent the relative values of the labor involved that in primitive times was not overtly recognized as anything but equal.

    http://www.eva.mpg.de/psycho/pdf/Publications_2005_PDF/Commentary_on_D.Everett_05.pdf

  107. cwfongon 24 Jan 2009 at 3:59 am

    Allow me to add this talk about the Piraha as well:
    http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/everett07/everett07_index.html

    It backs up what I referred to earlier about their lack of interest in money and power for its own sake.

  108. Fifion 24 Jan 2009 at 2:37 pm

    cwfong – Great example!

  109. HHCon 24 Jan 2009 at 3:42 pm

    I enjoyed listening to the broadcast a bit later. I foolishly tuned into my NPR station at the appropriate Central Standard Time and received Chicago issues. After that experience, I did like the comment about the doctor singing on World Cafe! Apparently, he has changed his tune about chiropractic medicine. He clearly stated that chiropractors are more effective handling acute, uncomplicated lower back pain. I agree with his statement on public radio. As for the last caller, I thought he spoke some fatherly advise to Dr. Novella,” sometimes you just have to take what your wife says at face value”. This was regarding hitting a deer with the family? car. I know the issue of personal property comes into play here and I am sure Inspector ClueSo would be interested in this hypothetical case.

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