Corporate Interest, Swine Flu Marketing, Ethics and Scandals
Critical Thinking** Applied to Human Self-Governance
How, when, does innocence become entangled with justifiable, intelligent, critical condemnation?
Details revealed in “Report condemns swine flu experts ties to big pharma”, may demonstrate such an entanglement.
“… An investigation by the British Medical Journal and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the not-for-profit reporting unit, shows that WHO guidance issued in 2004 was authored by three scientists who had previously received payment for other work from Roche, which makes Tamiflu, and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), manufacturer of Relenza. …”(See article by Randeep Ramesh, social affairs editor, The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jun/04/swine-flu-experts-big-pharmaceutical).
Three experts who had worked on behalf of Roche, and received payment for that work, also “…drew up the key World Health Organisation guidelines advising governments to stockpile drugs in the event of a flu pandemic ..”
Given only the quoted information, it seems the three scientists were clearly in cahoots with Big Pharma to create “need” for huge purchases of Roche’s products, at taxpayer expense, across the globe.
(As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, manipulation that plays on fears for the sake of persuading others to shell out dollars or put their soldier bodies on the line, is so classic, origins of the practice cannot likely be traced. “Con,” as strategy to persuade, is thoroughly documented in history.)
Behaviors of BP leaders in the Gulf of Mexico disaster, as well as history of national and global corporate oil industry giants, rightly lead to justifiable, intelligent, critical condemnation.
Key words for the public and their legislators: “intelligent” and “critical”. Combine these into the phrase “critical intelligence”, and change the phrase into “critical thinking” – shift this to “thinking like a critic”.
Thinking like a critic is essential to successful human self-governance. Lack of critical thinking by general populations and their legislators leads to outrageous ‘con’ behavior such as BP demonstrates on behalf of its entire industry.
“Late in the day” critical thinking develops when monumental size disasters due in human self-governance occur. We often observe this about individuals and their personal self-governance. We like to say: “When someone hits bottom, they often wake up to need to change their behavior.” There is fundamentally not one whit of difference between individual self-governance, and citizen-body self-governance, in “hitting bottom” and “waking up”.
Late in the day critical thinking is not nearly as useful to successful self-governance as is consistent critical thinking. Consistent critical thinking, as a way of going about self-governance, is required if we are to minimize the scale of any eventual crisis of our own making. The goal is to avoid the monumental size, to keep self and citizen created crises of “more manageable size”.
When we practice consistent critical thinking, we become aware: “If I (we) do X, problems could develop because ….” We can then reject idea X, or decide to “regulate” X to keep it manageable. An individual might think: “If I go to the pub for several hours I could drink too much alcohol” and either decide not to go to the pub or decide to regulate alcohol consumption.
When a citizen body practices consistent critical thinking, it accepts excess as possible outcome of any popular practice, and may wisely decide to self-regulate (to use legislative policy to create effective regulation). Intelligent critical thinking also recognizes that any organization made up of humans has potential for excess. No organization is given a “free pass” to operate without effective regulation.
Lack of consistent critical thinking as a “way of going about citizen business” leads to events like the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster. And we’ve been practicing a lot of lack! We’ve been pretty empty-headed! Like the individual deciding “a few more beers” would be a good idea when hre has consumed to the point of mild intoxication – we have been quite enjoying ourselves, without the ‘sobering’ bother of consistent critical thinking.
Consistent critical thinking is the proverbial “eternal vigilance” that we are told is mandatory if we are to enjoy a successful society, in these days “global” must be drawn into our definition of success. (“Success” = all family members (right through to global) have close to equal access to quality food, water, shelter, health service, and employment or business opportunity. Improved success is when we approach actual equality, not likely but ever the goal. This definition of success carries with it a call to ethics – a requirement that individuals and organizations be aware of their potential to do good or harm within the human family and toward all that supports us through life on this globe.)
As said above, critical thinking, consistent critical awareness, consistent “thinking like a critic” is well-advised – both individually and collectively, in our self-governance. This includes recognizing human capacity for helpful and unhelpful behavior, and makes obvious the need for “regulation”.
Consistent critical thinking means learning (through consistent practice) to identify potential excess. It means stopping to examine a current ‘in place’ or ‘developing’ situation and making a thoughtful, “critic style” assessment of what is actually going on.
Critical thinking cannot happen without information. The first ‘urge’ of a helpful critic is to gather as many relevant details as can be found. Which leads back to the article on flu vaccine with which I began this post. The article provides information. The information comes from agencies already designated as “watch dogs” – agencies given the task to ‘bark’ when something might need attention.
These watch-dog agencies themselves, please note, are made up of humans, so watch dog needs some critical monitoring also to establish a level of trust. I’m assuming for now the British Medical Journal and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism are trustworthy in this report. As I read the linked article (the report on the report) I discover the three experts claim to have revealed their paid associations with Roche, claim to have followed all disclosure regulations accurately and honestly. Also, they were not directly involved with Roche at the time they advised WHO. Sometimes it may it turn out the dog barks, we check, and maybe discover the ‘event’ that made the dog bark does not need corrective action.
Or maybe it does! Further investigation may reveal disclosure regulations are inadequate, or may reveal ‘con’ behaviors in the three experts. Maybe their own biases, even without intention, without their own self-regulatory critical thinking, created thoughts for them that said ‘It’s OK to stretch the truth a little here and help Roche make some big sales.”.
The point is : we need proven trustworthy watch-dogs to gather information and present it to us. We need to take the information into our critical thinking process. (The watchdog agencies are themselves to be engaged in critical thinking – these are not actual doggies – they are humans with human level cognitive capacity! This is why it’s a good idea to keep a watch on the behavior of watch dogs!)
Critical thinking includes recognizing the need for critical thinking — consistent critical thinking.**(see below my ‘sign off’)
Critical thinking cannot be what it needs to be unless we are willing to consider human psychology as it affects decisions at every level, in individual choice and in organizational policy and practice – organization within government and within the un-critically worshiped corporation, most particularly mega-corporation.
Critical thinking, consistent and thorough critical thinking, is a discipline based on in-born capacity for logical thinking. Logical thinking must be nurtured, trained, to become disciplined. The young, whether in formal schooling or not, need to understand the need for this discipline – which means all adults, (we all serve in parenting and teaching moments, we all serve as role models) must practice it themselves and must offer encouragement and coaching. (As adults practice critical thinking, they also function as encouragement models for one another!)
Ethics is mentioned only once outside the title, (in the definition of “success” above), but is also essential. Ethical considerations might have resulted in the three Roche-linked experts giving different, perhaps more balanced, guidance to WHO.
And the rest … might have been a different history! This is ALWAYS the case! Whatever unfolds grows out of our sowed seeds.
The beauty, the immense gift, of our capacity for imagining the future, is that we are born with capacity to apply critical thought as we develop ourselves. Human potential is not necessarily best oriented toward grand expensive show or grand con-scheme.
We’ve got the gift, are born with it. We can make consistent, ethical and disciplined, use of it if we choose. Psychology offers insight in our time that was not available when a lot of our governing and corporate bodies were “born”. The main “new” awareness, (that we have capacity to be rascals through and through), is not new, but modern psychology gives clear articulate explanation of why this is so.
It seems to me we’ve got everything we need in our ‘known’ condition to make considerable improvement toward success!
My Best! –MaggieAnn
(I believe this post speaks sufficiently on behalf of the practice of consistent critical thinking. I am also posting is as a ‘sub-page’ on the “Practices – A Better World” page.)
**Professional educators and others interested: For excellent article exploring philosophical history of, current need for, and professional education attention to, “critical thinking,” see: http://www.humansfuture.org/methodology_critical_thinking.php.htm.)