Tuesday, April 25, 2006

It Takes Two People to Lie; One to Lie, and One to Listen

So I was reading this article at Slate.com about the FDA's new report that there is no benefit to be had from medical marijuana. Well, that is, as it turns out, total bullshit. But here's the part of the article that I think is really important:

Why would the agency inaccurately claim that the science is settled when it isn't? I hardly need to say it: This isn't a medical or scientific conclusion. It's a political one.

This is certainly not the first time that politics has trumped science at the FDA. Another recent example: the agency's decision to block over-the-counter availability for emergency contraceptives in the face of overwhelming evidence that the treatment is safe and effective, and support for over-the-counter availability by the FDA's own advisory committee. From my standpoint as a doctor, the question is this: What do you do when federal agencies become so politicized that their recommendations can't necessarily be trusted? Do you have to treat other things they say as suspect? I depend on good advice and honest information from government agencies in the daily conduct of my work. I need to know what epidemic illnesses are circulating in my neighborhood even if that information might put a government agency in a bad light. I need to be able to trust government-sponsored research (especially because, goodness knows, I have learned not to trust manufacturer-sponsored research). I need to know that the advice I glean from government-sponsored agency Web sites will lead to the best care for my patients.

And thanks to the Bush administration and Republican Congress, we can't rely on any of that information any more. There have been so many lies and so much bullshit that we almost have to assume at this point that everything they say is bullshit. Need some examples? Ok:
  • Gale Norton recently told us that we'd seen "unprecedented gains" in wetlands in the U.S. over the last 10 years. Of course, we'd actually lost half a million acres of wetlands during that time, but by redefining wetlands to include golf course water hazards and man-made ponds outside of apartment complexes and probably those mysterious puddles of liquid in the subways (ok, so everyone knows it's pee), they were able to claim a net gain.
  • Bush's "Clear Skies" initiative, which helps us beat the pollution reduction goals of the Clean Air Act... by lowering the standards and redefining what "clean air" is.
  • Speaking of air, who can forget the administration's denial of, then grudging acceptance of and complete inaction on, global warming?
  • And let's not forget the grand-daddy of them all, the whole cherry-picking of intelligence that the administration shared with Congress in the run-up to the war in Iraq.
Of course there are a lot more examples of this stuff, but you probably already know most of it. The question is why do they keep doing this stuff? I mean, they get caught in their lies time and again, so why keep doing it? I think the answer is pretty obvious:
They've already made their minds up about everything, and little things like facts and reality aren't going to get in the way.

Obvious, right? We’ve all seen it. "We want to invade Iraq, and we'll use WMDs as an excuse. Who cares if it's not true? We'll make sure all anyone hears about are things that support our case."

"We need to give all our natural resources away to big corporations that will destroy them. Who cares if it fucks up the environment? We'll just change the definition of what it means to be polluted."

"We don't want anyone to use pot for medical purposes because they can just grow it themselves and not have to pay drug companies billions for it. Plus we saw a movie once that said it was bad. Who cares if there's no real evidence to support our claim that it won't help you, other than Reefer Madness? We'll just have the FDA release a report saying it's true."

It's like Babe Ruth pointing to the right field bleachers before the pitch, grounding out to second base, then trotting around the bases and having his buddies put a run up on the scoreboard.

So, what's the upshot of all this? Well, I guess the most disturbing thing should be that this administration and this Congress are wrong almost all of the time. Their ideas are wrong, their policies are wrong, their plans are wrong, almost everything they do is wrong. But that won't stop them from doing it any way. And then lying about it. And the faithful will keep believing it, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. But the rest of us, the people who's heads aren't up their own asses, are left to wonder what's actually true. Personally, I'm just gonna continue assuming it's all bullshit.


Michael Grant said...

I know there are a million examples, but one that really gets to me as being a particularly egregious lie was when they told us that the air was safe downtown after 9/11. And now over 15,000 people have lasting health problems.

3000 died that day because Bush ignored the warnings. How many more are going to die because Bush intentionally suppressed these warnings?

Matthew Smith said...

And how many more people are going to die because of the evil spawn of the Chicago Bulls mascot and Mr. Hanky the Christmas Poo?

emeryroolz said...

A lot.