We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Monday, December 3, 2012

As Drug Industry’s Influence over Research Grows, So Does the Potential for Bias

Click here to access article by Peter Whoriskey from The Washington Post via Transcend Media Service.

I think the early Christians had it right about the threat that the god of mammon posed for the human race. Unfortunately this religion which created a revolutionary consciousness and a threat to the Roman Empire, was co-opted by Rome and degenerated under a succession of Pope's and a Catholic bureaucracy who modified this new religion into one where "God" sanctioned the power of rulers and the subordination of people to authorities. When the Empire fell, the latter simply allied themselves to the new ruling aristocracies and monarchies who continued to worship the same god.

Next we saw various people begin to use their marvelous human brains in new ways to discover truth. By gazing at the heavens with some new powerful telescopes they discovered that some of the central truths propounded by religious authorities were false. They, of course, were persecuted because they challenged the powerful. But, despite the persecution more and more individuals, driven by the need for truth about human existence and the world, began to develop and use more instruments to test new ideas about reality. These explorations gradually developed into the refined scientific method of truth seeking and the Age of Enlightenment.

Lo and behold, some individuals began to see how these new methods of truth seeking could make them rich and powerful. New tools and machines were developed using this knowledge. Likewise a new group of people arose who saw the huge potential for wealth and power that could be gained from the new instruments. They used their growing influence and their associations with more enlightened members of the existing members of the aristocracy to proclaim "ownership" of these new means of production. They, too, worshiped the same god of mammon.

Likewise the existing authorities of thought control for the masses known as the Catholic church saw that the arrangements of power was changing hands, and they decided to get on board with this new class of people who were called capitalists. Some early ones "jumped ship" and called themselves Protestants. They, of course, modified certain beliefs to conform with the ideas of the new class, the main one being that "God" welcomed the pursuit of wealth, that wealth was a sign of God's grace, and that much could be forgiven with the methods used for obtaining wealth.

Have you noticed in this story of humans, that while much progress has been made to obtain mastery over physical existence, religious authorities have been replaced by ruling class moralists and ideologues delivered to us through their media? Have you noticed that with every technological advance we see ruling classes hoarding the benefits for themselves?

Is not this report report addressing basically the same issue? Universities theoretically have been established as institutions to continue the search for truth using the scientific method. Yet, we see here that their purpose is being subordinated to the interests of the current ruling class whose god continues to be mammon.
The billions that the drug companies invest in such experiments help fund the world’s quest for cures. But their aim is not just public health. That money is also part of a high-risk quest for profits, and over the past decade corporate interference has repeatedly muddled the nation’s drug science, sometimes with potentially lethal consequences.
It appears to me that most of humanity no longer really accepts the belief propagated by ideological authorities that the material benefits that have accumulated through the ages because of the efforts of truth-seekers should be enjoyed by so few people. It seems that the powerful can no longer rely on their ideological allies, and must increasingly resort to shear violence and the threat of violence to keep their wealth and power. That is what we are facing today.