Friday, September 1, 2017

covering up for an angel

What do the august realms of medical miracles and the biff-bam-boom concussions of American football have in common? Both, it appears, are purveyors of enormous denial and coverup and reek of the money and awe they can inspire.

The National Football League, to take the second first, has for a number of years bobbed and weaved as evidence mounted that concussions touched off by football play could deeply harm its players. And they were playing hardball.
Commissioner Roger Godell
The National Football League improperly tried to influence a government research center that was studying the connection between concussions and brain disease, according to a new congressional report released Monday.
The National Institutes of Health does not permit private donors to influence its peer-review research process, but the report from Democratic members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce said that the NFL rescinded a gift to the NIH for concussion research when it learned the study’s findings would be detrimental to the league’s image. ESPN reports.... [May 23, 2016 The Atlantic]
Like police departments everywhere, the NFL marshaled its forces into something resembling the "blue wall" -- the mafia's version of "omerta" or silence and obfuscation in the face of criticism. Science?! Fuck that! What would high schools/colleges/professional venues do without the Friday night game?

And then there is the sacrosanct realm of medicine:
Scientific pioneer, superstar surgeon, miracle worker – that’s how Paolo Macchiarini was known for several years. Dressed in a white lab coat or in surgical scrubs, with his broad, handsome face and easy charm, he certainly looked the part. And fooled almost everyone.
Macchiarini shot to prominence back in 2008, when he created a new airway for Claudia Castillo, a young woman from Barcelona....[The Guardian 9/1/17]
In both cases, big money and big ego are involved. Who has got the balls to turn off the money spigot ... or even dent such a holy environment? American football is the most popular sport in the USA. Millions of dollars are generated for TV and universities. Coaches make more than university presidents. And doctors rack up brownie points for the institution they are affiliated with and -- oh yes -- their own bank accounts.

The Guardian article is extremely well written and clear and, in some sense, terrifying. If patients cannot trust their doctors, whom can they trust? The bullshit "caveat emptor" can hardly apply when doctors, like police and football players, create their own wall of silence and agreement.

The corruption drip-drip-drips downward onto -- you get one guess -- the patient and his or her prayers. How many doctors can you consult in doing your "due diligence?" In the medical realm of "do no harm" there appear to be enough gradations of the word "harm" to leave even a Jesuit twisting slowly slowly in the wind.


  1. There's no people/greed proofing possible. My own GP is an old friend who I knew from before he went to medical school. He's very suspicious of the AMA and big pharma. If he doesn't know something he'll drag a book off the shelf and we'll look it up, and if it makes no sense to him he'll say so.

    Medicine is uncertain at best as so little is really understood about the how's and why's of our bodies. But anytime you make a mystery profitable it becomes a menace akin to religion.

    There was a movie made in 2015 starring Will Smith about forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu who fought the NFL's effort to suppress his research into degenerative brain disease do to head trauma on the field of play.

    Not being a movie filled with explosions it hasn't reached too wide an audience. But Will Smith's star power apparently brought it in at 7th place in the box office.

    Main articles:

  2. Charlie -- I saw that movie ... it was enough to make you weep.