Philosophy & Ethics

The 2008 presidential campaign, as reflected in candidates' television spots, has been one of the most negative campaigns in history. A University of Missouri professor analyzed this year's candidates' television spots, including last night's 30-minute ad by Sen. Barack Obama and found that only one other campaign matched this level of negativity.

William Benoit, professor of communication in the College of Arts and Science, found that in television spots from 1952-2004, candidates averaged 40 percent attacks in their ad statements. In this year's race, the statements in Obama's ads were 68 percent negative compared to 62 percent for Sen. John McCain.

Off-label prescription of a drug is generally legal, but promotion of off-label uses by a drug manufacturer is illegal. In an article in this week's PLoS Medicine, two physician researchers describe the techniques that they say drug companies use to covertly promote off-label use, even when such promotion is illegal.

Adriane Fugh-Berman (Georgetown University Medical Center) and Douglas Melnick (a preventive medicine physician working in North Hollywood, California) argue that while off-label drug use is "sometimes unavoidable" and sometimes "demonstrably beneficial," it has also been linked with serious side effects. Off-label drug use, they say, "should be undertaken with care and caution due to the uncontrolled experiment to which a patient is being subjected."
People tend to want to correlate more money to better results?  It doesn't matter if it's education or science or highways.   But it isn't always the case.   Expensive new medicines plus more patients have caused American to double spending on diabetes care in six years - rising from $6.7 billion in 2001 to $12.5 billion in 2007 according to a study in the Oct. 27, 2008, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine  - but the results haven't kept pace with the expense.  

Since 2002, over 10 percent of all health care expenditures in the United States were attributable to diabetes so it's time to think about whether the higher cost actually translates into improved care.
If a doctor believes an antibiotic or sedative is not needed and instead provides a placebo to a patient, is the physician protecting public health or subjectively disregarding the ethics of full disclosure? You decide.

Many rheumatologists and general internal medicine physicians in the US say they regularly prescribe "placebo treatments" including active drugs such as sedatives and antibiotics, but rarely admit they are doing so to their patients, according to a study on today.

Pierre-Simon de Laplace, the 18th century French astronomer who proposed one of the early theories of the formation of the solar system, famously postulated a “Demon” who had enough information to know what would happen in any place in the universe at any time. It was the height of mechanistic and deterministic hubris in science, and it seemed that it was only a matter of time before physicists would find out everything there was to find out about the way the world works
There was a time when being a journalist was a higher calling - and that higher calling was truth.    Somewhere in there it became well-known that journalists were a little more liberal than most and that was bad.   Well, why wouldn't they be?   Journalists, of the old school, graduated high school and took jobs at small newspapers.   They covered the late night crime beat, they did obituaries - they saw how in some cases people who didn't have much of a way out did things people with money and food say they would never dream of doing.   

In any civilized society, people should not starve.   I'd be more suspicious of young journalists who were not liberals in that environment.   Who doesn't want to believe we can create a better world?
What do presidential candidate Barack Obama and Snapple Iced Tea have in common? Patricia Turner, professor of African American and African studies at the University of California, Davis, whose research focuses on urban legends and conspiracy theories, notes that Snapple had to grapple with two false rumors when it became a sensation in 1993.

Did you ever hear that Snapple has ties to pro-life extremists or that it was owned by the Ku Klux Klan?  We haven't either but apparently that's what some people said and some people believed. 
I heard the Finnish diplomat Martti Ahtisaari say today that he had been "eternally displaced" ever since he had become a child refuge in World War II. The recipient of the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize recalled his wartime suffering as the impetus for his lifetime work in peacemaking.

Thank you, Martti Ahtisaari, for being you. Congratulations!

I recall that Deepak Chopra designated seven practices for peace in his book "Peace is the Way".(1)

Friday (Creating for Peace)

Saturday (Sharing for Peace)

Sunday (Being for Peace)

Monday (Thinking for Peace)

Tuesday (Feeling for Peace)

Wednesday (Speaking for Peace)
As a scientist, sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. Or into your own arm, and occasionally, your own heart. Autoexperimentation is the very risky practice of wildcat science. If you can’t find an animal model for a virus, inoculate yourself. If you can’t find a volunteer, step up. Several autoexperimenting scientists have won the Nobel Prize. Nobel Hearts Werner Forssmann won the Nobel in 1956 for performing the first cardiac catheterization.