Monday, May 3, 2010

Big Questions? Big Science! . . . More Questions.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Doctor.

              He said; 'The Patients are revolting!!
              I said;     'In know. Fewer and fewer seem to think you guys actually  
                              know what your doing. It's almost like their ready 
                              to take up arms or something.'
              He said; 'No, no. I mean, they're revolting. I really don't like them 
                              very much.'
              I said;    'Oh. . . Well, hope you can work that out then.'

One might think the members of the Medical Science Community would know the potential harm that comes from shooting one's self in the foot, but. . . 

Science, or one of it's basic tenants, is supposed to be non-biased integrity. The pursuit of fact has long been the doctrine of, really, any kind of science in it's quest for the incontrovertible 'truths' about that which has, previously, been unknown. Unfortunately, we humans love our biases. especially when they make us look good.

This particular article focuses on medical science and it's relationship to pharmacological research. However, one might argue that there has been a certain amount of. . . Scientific obfuscation in matters pertaining, obesity and the frenzy of 'crisis' news that surrounds it.

We've seen this before. Checking our friendly media providers we find a new 'death scare' health report about the 'dangers' of obesity almost every month (Ok, well that last one is a ringer but you get the idea).
We are virtually inundated with so much information pointing toward the shear lethality of fat, one almost wonders how there could possibly be ANY fat people walking around anywhere. Or, perhaps, there's less to all of this than we're being led to believe. Less fact and perhaps too much agenda. 

One might wonder; What would be the purpose of disseminating all this bad information? What would be the purpose? Well, like fat itself, the answer to that can get a little complicated. As the HuffPo article on medical research suggests, Medicine has traditional momentum to account for some of it's entrenched attitudes. However, in the case of obesity, we've also got a 40 - 60 billion dollar diet industry, a media machine capable of shaping societal perception, Insurance concerns who's bottom-line interests revolve around paying out as few claims and disqualifying as many people as possible, and WLS? If the revenue generated by that particular medical specialty is a fraction of what the diet industry pulls in, we are talking about a lot of money. As it turns out, money is a pretty good motivator.  But this phenomena in the scientific community is not just powered by greed and industry specific interest. There are also powerful social / cultural components facilitating and often directing this mis/disinformation. In a society where it's quite simply acceptable to hate fat people, how can it not? Now layer on a general ignorance of how / why people become fat, why it's nearly impossible for some to lose weight (Umm because some of us are supposed to be fat? Just a guess.), and add irrational beliefs about how individual bodies should work or how they should look and you get a toxic environment in which, even incorruptible Science, is not immune to influence. As a caveat, the last Presidential Administrations attitudes about what science is and what it should say, didn't help any. Still the question of why researchers and those who do the Big Science thing might be compromising their own integrity, really isn't the most significant one. 

It seems that some of the most important questions in all of this often go unaddressed: What is this doing to the reliability, the reputation, the dependability, of Science and, by extension, medicine in general? How will this willingness to 'sell out' fat people for a quick buck, for an entrenched bias, or for a perceived 'societal good' while ignoring inconvenient truths or passing off junk science as cannon, effect what we 'know' in the future? Obviously these would be questions that could potentially effect, not just fat people, but everyone. However, we'll need to get over our general dislike of a certain class of people before we can even address them. For those skipping ahead, that would be; Fat People. Not impossible but as history has shown, often not a very easy thing to do. If we don't want the Scientific Process to become short-hand for 'just another rumor mill', perhaps we should get started.  

Muzak Therapy:
Cars / Bye Bye Love

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