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« A Pat for Sharon Begley | Main | Saddam’s Execution and the End of War »

A Pat for Pharma Watchdog Vera Hassner Sharav

This morning I checked my email and learned about a lawsuit in Texas that accuses Johnson & Johnson of misleading health officials about the risks of the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal. Yesterday I received a Wall Street Journal article detailing how the New England Journal of Medicine spiked an editorial that criticized the National Kidney Foundation for taking money from and promoting the products of drug companies. A previous email discusses efforts of Eli Lilly to downplay risks of the blockbuster anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa.

These missives came from Vera Hassner Sharav, founder and director of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, which is, according to its website, “a national network of lay people and professionals dedicated to advancing responsible and ethical medical research practices, to ensure that the human rights, dignity and welfare of human subjects are protected, and to minimize the risks associated with such endeavors.”

Sharav is an indefatigable critic of the corruption of medicine—and especially psychiatry--by the pharmaceutical industry. This is arguably the most important science-related story of our time, and no one works harder to keep it in the public eye than Sharav. Keep fighting, Vera!



Andrei Kirilyuk

Great Whacks, Small Pats

It's another confirmation of the end of science (and more than science), those inspiring, optimistic whacks and feeble, unconvincing pats. Formally “negative” judgements are promising, while attempts to find “at least something positive” among “influential”, recognised intellectual efforts (even externally “opposed” to the mainstream) leave impression of something untrue, artificial, definitely lost and therefore inevitably disappearing... Let's look briefly at details.

Alliance for Human Research Protection (this post). Are we talking about a country where genetically modified organisms are widely, routinely, commercially used and constitute a huge industry sector, without the slightest understanding of what life and real genome dynamics actually is? OK, maybe they are “fighting”, those self-designated “protectors”, but their “battle” is totally and completely lost (while they have a quite nice level of their personal material life due exclusively to publicity of their “positive efforts”). It's the same, of course, for pharmaceutical industry: you have a society of “chemically handicapped” people where innumerable, mechanically acting and mechanically tested substances are massively (and successfully) imposed as chemical crutches (whether needed or not) that can change essentially (and unpredictably) living (and “conscious”!) organism dynamics, but without any real understanding of that dynamics and its interaction with that extraneous “chemistry”. So are we estimating “nice people” announcing their “good purposes” (and usually extracting not so bad profits from it!) or real results and practical efficiency of their activity? And don't say “without them it could be even worse”. Maybe without their imitation of “protection” people would be pushed to move to a real problem solution, without any imitation and blind technology tricks at all? They pretend to be “fighters for progress” and “protectors of humanity”, but the real result of such activity is further justification and effective support of progressing life destruction (because for many “ordinary”, unaware contributors it creates a convenient illusion that “we are reasonably protected” due to such “militant” efforts...). No, you are not protected at all (if you want, see for a scientifically rigorous explanation why).

Oh, this American militancy densely mixed with the omnipresent love of money! We should do something real, here and now, we can do something, and you can efficiently contribute to your own salvation! So give us your money, please. No, it's not enough to do just “something”, doing something will be harmful in most cases. To have a real progress at the actually attained level of empirical technology, you need something very special and exceeding qualitatively all those “ethical” imitations.

Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain ( ). No, but here is a really great discovery about the brain, finally: if you are thinking, training your brain by mental exercises, the brain can progress in its thinking capacities. And Buddhists are especially clever guys, it's a well-known fact. Maybe Sharon is an interesting person and a good science writer, but either this was her unfortunate experience, or else everything written by John Horgan about modern brain science is wrong. [I am estimating, of course, only the main message of the book, not its detailed content, but we just seem to be discussing the former.] There is a reference in the book summary to a yet worse level of knowledge, that of official dogma, which considers that brain structure cannot progress for adults. That's true, there is always something yet worse...

Politics of Nonviolent Action ( ). Pity that nothing is true in that initiative. It would be so nice indeed to have a possibility of efficient nonviolent fight with forces of oppression... Major examples cited at the site of Albert Einstein Institution include recent Baltic States “nonviolent victory” over Soviet occupational regime. Why not to include Ukraine and Byelorussia to the same list? It's absolutely evident that emergence of those independent ex-Soviet states is due mainly to the “natural death” of Soviet communism. When Hungarians and Czechs tried before, it was much less successful... And by the way, even that last, relatively nonviolent transition in Baltic States (and elsewhere) did have its bloody fighting, with real victims... Needless to say, every day brings us the news about violent actions (both efficient and inefficient), but never about efficient nonviolent actions (science including!). We deal thus with another “soothing” illusion, deceptively calming psycho-social drug serving to show us that it's enough maybe to change some leaders or make “stronger democratic efforts” and everything will change for better, without any deeper change. So “raising funds” by the Institution goes apparently well: why not to pay for another illusion? Especially because those who participate are usually quite far away from places where the efficiency of “nonviolent action” would be most desirable. Do they need to remember that Albert Einstein, together with other “humanists”, supported very actively and consciously atomic weapons development leading directly to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, those typical nonviolent actions?... Ah, those indefatigable peaceniks, beatniks good for picnics and other completely “liberated” intelligentsia, unceasingly raising new funds for ever greater liberation... And the result, good funds for them, but ever greater degradation of everything, including hopes for efficient nonviolent actions (let alone their real cases). Maybe it's time to stop lying and start thinking about a really efficient change?

I feel I am destroying the very last illusions of a “prosperous” world about its own basic goodness supposed to finally win, “despite everything”, and especially without a much deeper change of its roots threatening inevitably that cherished prosperity felt to be so nice, so pleasant, so indispensable. Or maybe those New Year pats are quite “ironic” themselves or simply express New Year greetings to “people of good will”... Sorry for my rough sense of humour, but I think phenomena we are talking about reveal something serious and permanent, behind all external envelopes and occasional plays of words.

Horganism Transition: From the End of Science to Science Beyond the End

OK, and now we certainly need, all of us, something truly positive for the beginning New Year. But should those familiar with the 2006 Horganism content look far away to find something positive? I am not surprised that all their top media (including unfortunately the hosting Discover magazine) were missing in their polls the main achievement of 2006, the appearance of Horganism, which only starts with the “end of science” but actually progresses towards another, qualitatively better kind of knowledge, here and now, already during these few months of its existence. By saying so I am not subjectively praising anybody because everybody can participate and progress in his/her understanding of every subject of interest, from elementary particles to consciousness, without any ruptures or false agreement. I also consider this kind and level of knowledge, absolutely inaccessible for the conventional science doctrine, to be totally natural, normal for any developed society of conscious beings. (Ask yourself why it is not so in your “developed” society.)

One can also clearly see the key features of the Horganism knowledge “model” (even if it's only a model) making it so different from conventional science and just permitting de facto transgression of those notorious “limits of knowledge”. It is, first of all, permanent and omnipresent, but necessarily constructive doubts about any, even “well-established” truth. If a considered truth can survive all reasonable doubts, it may be (temporarily) accepted to give rise to further questions and related progress, always attained by well-specified doubts. This is very different indeed from the authoritarian “hypotheses non fingo” of the officially imposed science doctrine. Doubt is also inseparably related to curiosity, that well-known and major component of knowledge progress. Other necessary features of the new knowledge are also objectively related to that “creative uncertainty”, including real (constructive) freedom, “interdisciplinarity” and continuous, “associative” thinking character, naturally “suppressed” (but always existing!) personal ambitions (everybody can be and often actually is wrong!), intrinsic inclusion of not only “public interest in science” but direct public participation in knowledge creation and discussion, etc.

So why not to have that new kind of knowledge instead of now ridiculously simplified and totally corrupted unitary science? Maybe it's even time to start raising funds for that kind of development?! (rather than for vain “perestroika” illusions of the decaying System). No way, baby, in this world those who can successfully raise funds can never raise knowledge or social progress, and vice versa... It's a pity because it's not so difficult to see that not only scientific, but also general, social and psychological/intellectual problems now dangerously accumulating in the technically powerful civilisation can only be solved with the help of new knowledge and related new thinking, approach, etc. (I hope CIA is always listening?) Want to have a really nice, progressing world without wars and violence? Just initiate another, necessarily knowledge-based development possibility, but a real and well-specified one, beyond any their usual “illusions of goodness” or subjective ambitions. No other kind of progress is possible or has ever been possible in a conscious species society, while without that progress today only the End will remain. But even the End has its progress, usually called degradation...

So I hope that what has been started by Horganism in 2006 can continue, develop, take various forms and finally... transgress the End and contribute to the necessary knowledge transformation. Creative New Year to everybody!

John Horgan

Andrei, I never know whether to whack you or pat you, thank you or curse you, after reading one of your posts. I'm not sure my little blog can sustain the intensity of your scrutiny. But for now, let me say, Thanks.

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