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Bad Blood in Tuskegee

Article #268 • Written by Alan Bellows

Early in the twentieth century, the medical community was practically helpless in its battle against syphilis. The crippling affliction was spreading at an alarming rate in certain areas, particularly among the poorer segments of the world population. Even for those who could afford medical care, the only known treatments rivaled the disease itself in the harm they did to sufferers.

In 1932, Dr. Taliaferro Clark from the United States Public Health Service (PHS) launched a study in Macon County, Alabama in order to document the progression of this troublesome sexually-transmitted disease. The region was home to hundreds of poor and mostly illiterate black farmers, and cases of syphilis had reached alarming proportions. The Tuskegee Syphilis Study was undertaken in the hopes that a deeper understanding of syphilis would provide new insights on potential treatments, and possibly justify a government-funded treatment program. But from these noble beginnings, a lack of funds and a shortage of ethics led to one of the most shameful clinical mishaps in US history.

Syphilis is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum, and it is among the more dangerous sexually-transmitted diseases due to the serious health problems which it can cause if left untreated. In its early phases it produces painless sores and rashes along with general feelings of discomfort such as headaches and sore throat. After about a year of such mild symptoms, many patients seem to return to normal health. This stage represents the disease's latency phase, where the infecting bacteria lie in wait within their host for anywhere from a few months to several decades.

When the tertiary stage of syphilis finally strikes, the sufferer's body will become plagued with a myriad of mysterious gummy tumors on various parts of the body, and serious damage may begin to occur to the heart, bones, and joints. The disease may also infect the nervous system, a type known as neurosyphilis. This variety can result in damage to the eyes and ears, personality changes, hyperactive reflexes, paralysis, and insanity. Some also believe that tertiary neurosyphilis can amplify creativity and intelligence, though there is little evidence to support such notions.

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study was launched in cooperation with the hospital at the Tuskegee Institute, a black university founded by Booker T. Washington. The PHS provided the residents with few details of the study's purpose, but they offered a daily meal and free medical treatment to participants, as well as a $50 burial stipend for any who agreed to allow an autopsy in the event of their death. To the men who labored in the fields every day and paid rent on the land with a share of their crops, this offer was extremely appealing. Six hundred volunteers were accepted for the study, including 201 healthy men in the control group and 399 who tested positive for syphilis.

Since there were no funds available to provide useful medication to participants, the investigators could do little more than observe the natural progression of the disease. The researchers reasoned that as long as they did no harm to the patients, their study was justified by the knowledge it would produce for all of humankind. Almost immediately, however, these noble goals buckled under the weight of misguided research. The doctors opted not to disclose the seriousness of the affliction to volunteers, instead informing them that they required treatment for an ambiguous ailment they referred to as "bad blood." Researchers then provided the volunteers with daily doses of aspirin and iron supplements which they misrepresented as more useful medication.

These deceptive practices prompted Dr. Taliaferro Clark to retire from the project shortly after the study began, but the remaining researchers continued. Under the care of nurse Eunice Rivers-- an African American nurse who had trained at Tuskegee-- blood samples were periodically taken from participants. They were also subjected to occasional spinal taps, a test where the the spinal column is punctured by a large needle to collect a sample of cerebrospinal fluid. This "golden needle treatment" offered no health benefits to the patients, in fact it often triggered severe headaches and nausea, and there was a small risk of disability or death. But the researchers deemed it necessary in order to test for indications of neurosyphilis. Patients received letters offering "special free treatment" to coax them into agreeing to the tests, and the procedure was usually administered for an entire region in one day in order to prevent word of its unpleasantness from discouraging participation.

Despite the occasional discomfort, patients were delighted to be receiving medical attention from the government. Many of the syphilis sufferers brought baked goods for the doctors as a way of showing their gratitude.

A spinal tap administered as part of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study
A spinal tap administered as part of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study

During the early years of the study, the medical community's only weapons against syphilis were toxic cocktails laced with mercury or arsenic which were sometimes more harmful to the patient than the disease itself. Some creative practitioners had experimented with deliberately infecting patients with malaria to produce a prolonged fever that would sometimes kill the syphilis infection, following up with the anti-malaria tree-bark extract known as quinine. In the mid-1940s, however, the recently discovered antibiotic penicillin was determined to be a safe and effective cure for syphilis, and the US government sponsored a nationwide public health program in an effort to eradicate the disease.

The researchers at Tuskegee, in a bid to preserve the fruits of their labors, kept the cure a secret from their subjects. They also supplied local doctors with lists of the participants' names, and instructed the physicians not to provide penicillin lest they interfere with a government health study. The administrators of the experiment were not interested in saving the lives of the black farmers, they were interested only in dissecting them on an autopsy table. As one of the doctors unceremoniously stated, "We have no further interest in these patients until they die."

After the end of the Second World War, revulsion over the Nazis' unnecessary human experiments prompted the Counsel for War Crimes to establish the Nuremberg Code. This set of principles defined the boundaries of human experimentation and established the requirement for informed consent. The Tuskegee study was clearly in direct contradiction with many of these guidelines, yet the experiments continued without interruption. For years the doctors in Macon County treated their patients with a regimen of placebos as the mens' health degenerated under the ravages of untreated syphilis. The autopsies revealed a wide range of syphilis complications, including leaky heart valves, burst aortas, skeletal tumors, degenerated spinal cords, and brain damage.

In 1966, a venereal disease investigator named Peter Buxtun learned of the study and sent a letter to his department director expressing his moral concerns regarding the experiment. The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) responded by asserting that the study must continue until all of the patients had died, allowing the researchers the opportunity to autopsy all of the patients. This conclusion was supported by the National Medical Association and the American Medical Association. Nonetheless Buxtun continued his efforts to bring attention to the questionable ethics of the study, but his words failed to penetrate the tangled mass of bureaucracy and racism at the CDC.

Peter Buxton testifies at a Congressional hearing
Peter Buxton testifies at a Congressional hearing

On 25 July 1972, an article appeared in the Washington Star newspaper condemning the Tuskegee study and its practices. The article was written by Jean Heller in response to a letter sent by Peter Buxtun which outlined the travesties of the ongoing research. The newspaper's readers were horrified to learn that the Public Health Service was deliberately preventing the test subjects from receiving treatment. The story appeared on the front page of the New York Times the following day. The government defended their long-term study, pointing out that the experiments were carried out on volunteers, and that the patients were always happy to see their doctors. But the weight of public disapproval crushed the feeble excuses, and an ad hoc advisory panel was assembled which quickly condemned the study and ordered its termination.

When the study ended, it had been forty years since the doctors administered their first placebo treatment for "bad blood" in Tuskegee. Over the course of the study, twenty-eight of the men had died of syphilis, and one hundred were dead due to related complications. Many of these patients died after penicillin had become readily available. Of the 399 original infected volunteers, only seventy-four survived to learn that their doctors had only been pretending to treat their disease for the past four decades. In addition, it was found that forty of the mens' wives had been infected during the study, and nineteen of their children had been born with congenital syphilis.

The following year the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) won a $9 million settlement on behalf of the victims, and the sum was divided among the survivors. They and their families were also guaranteed free medical care for the rest of their lives. Understandably, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study motivated a deep distrust of the US medical establishment among African Americans, an effect which still lingers today.

Some have argued that the study is somewhat excusable when taken in historical context; for instance, when the study was launched in 1932, medical researchers were neither required nor expected to provide patients with details of their conditions. However a failure to disclose details was among the least of the researchers' wrongdoings. Their deliberate exploitation of an ethnic minority was barbaric, and their proactive efforts to prevent treatment were profoundly indefensible, particularly after the cure became readily available in the mid-1940s.

On 16 May 1997, President Clinton apologized to the surviving Tuskegee patients on behalf of the nation:

"To the survivors, to the wives and family members, the children and the grandchildren, I say what you know: No power on Earth can give you back the lives lost, the pain suffered, the years of internal torment and anguish. What was done cannot be undone. But we can end the silence. We can stop turning our heads away. We can look at you in the eye and finally say, on behalf of the American people: what the United States government did was shameful. And I am sorry."

Bill Clinton with the surviving Tuskegee patients
Bill Clinton with the surviving Tuskegee patients

Few of the researchers who participated in the study ever admitted to any lapse in ethics, most of them insisting that they were merely following the directions of their superiors. This hollow defense is eerily reminiscent of the explanation offered by the Nazi experimenters in Nuremberg, with whom the Tuskegee researchers have been compared unfavorably on many occasions. The Nazi scientists also claimed that they were "just following orders," a condition which seems to disabuse ordinary people of their personal morals. Not even Eunice Rivers-- the African American nurse who was a vital part of the study for its entire forty year span-- felt that anything unethical had transpired.

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study is a blatant demonstration of racism run amok, and it is an event which can-- and perhaps should-- forever stain the history of science and medicine in the United States. Such stains remind us that government-mandated racism is not so distant in the past as some would like to believe, and that modern practitioners of science and medicine are not above shameful lapses in judgment.

Article written by Alan Bellows, published on 30 April 2007. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.

Article design by Alan Bellows.
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118 Comments
Kitch
Posted 01 May 2007 at 04:54 am

Hey not bad, first time posting a comment on the site is also a "first" post. Greetings everybody!!!


Kitch
Posted 01 May 2007 at 05:05 am

DI article for sure. It clearly shows the terrifying depths that mankind will delve into in the name of science. Another great job, Alan.


errna
Posted 01 May 2007 at 05:49 am

Nice one Alan, never heard about this before.
Just goes to show that those 'thinking of a bigger picture' will s***w you and me anytime.


Cesium
Posted 01 May 2007 at 06:05 am

This is inexcusable for the medical people involved. Yet let us not forget that if many of those infected had kept their roosters in their own barnyard, they would not have become “test subjects”, eh.


Clay
Posted 01 May 2007 at 06:31 am

This study is an example of many things gone wrong. The only good thing to come out was the development of more stringent medical ethics codes, including the doctrine of clinical equipoise and institutional review boards. Ironically, it is precisely that commitment to rigorous standards that makes it increasingly difficult to carry medical research through to completion these days.

Great article! Thanks for writing on such an important issue with such little exposure.


nairobired
Posted 01 May 2007 at 06:31 am

Cesium said: "This is inexcusable for the medical people involved. Yet let us not forget that if many of those infected had kept their roosters in their own barnyard, they would not have become “test subjects”, eh."

What? So because they became infected with a disease they didn't even know existed they are ultimately at fault? Even after an effective and proven treatment was available? I guess you think that all those "fags" who died of AIDS in the early 80's deserved it too. You're out of your goddamn mind.

It does not matter how someone gets sick, it only matters that everyone is given equal opportunity to available treatment. Once you inject morality or personal opinion or judgment in treating a patient, you're going to get questionable medical results, and this is one of them.

"We have no further interest in these patients until they die."
Dude. What if that was YOU or your mom they were talking about, just because of the color of your skin?


Stead311
Posted 01 May 2007 at 07:07 am

Makes you wonder what kind of experiment the medical comunity is doing now. People may be disillusioned and think that everything has proceedure and protocol, when really.... thing may be happening as we speak that is just a sin. Look at the neurological studies done in the NYC subway without anyones permission. This isn't something new... and it isn't something that is going to go away.


Spike
Posted 01 May 2007 at 08:00 am

There is nothing scarrier than scientists who are willing to sacrifice a few for the supposed "good of mankind". Not only was wrong done to these men, but keeping their families in the dark caused harm to their wives and children. I can't imagine that I could tell myself enough lies to make it okay to allow someone to suffer. Yes, this may make medical research today difficult, but what if you or someone you loved was caused harm in the name furthering medical science. Who decides whose life has more value? Even pie can't make this one okay.


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 01 May 2007 at 08:00 am

What tests did they do on the NYC subway?


Thag
Posted 01 May 2007 at 08:16 am

Things like this give me that unsettled feeling about our Government like that fanged creature lurking just out of visual range in the bowels of my closet. Also reminds me of other "tests" our leaders sponsored, cold war era radiation experiments, CHATTER, ARTICHOKE, and the CIA drug tests (http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=59)

Thanks for another DI article and increased night-light sales...


Stead311
Posted 01 May 2007 at 08:16 am

Nicki the Heinous said: "What tests did they do on the NYC subway?"

The virus Bacillus subtilis was released throughout the New York subway system.
Bacteria were sprayed into New York City subway tunnels; into crowds at a Washington, D.C. airport; and onto highways in Pennsylvania. Biowarfare testing also took place in military bases in Virginia, in Key West, Florida, and off the coasts of California and Hawaii. This all came out after the testing was done and measured.


texnation
Posted 01 May 2007 at 08:24 am

I realize now why so many people (especially minorities) are both afraid and angry at the health care system.


texnation
Posted 01 May 2007 at 08:26 am

All this time I just thought minorities thought whitey was out to get them, but he actually was.


thingummy
Posted 01 May 2007 at 08:58 am

Stead311 said: "The virus Bacillus subtilis was released throughout the New York subway system.

Bacteria were sprayed into New York City subway tunnels; into crowds at a Washington, D.C. airport; and onto highways in Pennsylvania. Biowarfare testing also took place in military bases in Virginia, in Key West, Florida, and off the coasts of California and Hawaii. This all came out after the testing was done and measured."

Are you a Conspiracy Theorist or is this on the up-and-up? When did this happen? Where can I read about it?


tampagirl
Posted 01 May 2007 at 09:31 am

I've seen a cable network movie on this topic, i believe it was called, "Miss Evers Boys". I imagine the name was changed to protect the guilty. In the movie Miss Evers was portrayed as being aware that the participants were not receiving curing care and she was convinced by her superiors (white, male DOCTORS) that the benefits of the study were too important to jeopardize.


spiffkid
Posted 01 May 2007 at 09:34 am

wow. this is so sad. for the doctors to never even admit to any kind of wrong doing just makes everything worse too. yuck, this made me sick.


AmbiguousUbiquity
Posted 01 May 2007 at 09:45 am

thingummy said: "Are you a Conspiracy Theorist or is this on the up-and-up? When did this happen? Where can I read about it?"

No, it's been documented, and not just by conspiracy nuts:

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/07/13/1357237


tampagirl
Posted 01 May 2007 at 09:46 am

Admittedly I didn't do tons of research due to time limitations but the only reference I can find to Bacillus subtilis research is located here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_SHAD.


smokefoot
Posted 01 May 2007 at 09:48 am

I don't understand why the medical personnel were not prosecuted. Instructing the local private doctors to not treat a fatal disease seems like murder to me. The local doctors could claim that they thought that the government study was treating the syphilis, but the government doctors knew exactly what they were doing.

On the subway bacteria release, there is a mention of this on Wikipedia - but it also confirms that this bacteria is considered harmless - even used in Japanese and Korean food:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacillus_subtilis


Techno-Kid
Posted 01 May 2007 at 09:50 am

@thingummy

I've never heard of that either but I was able to find this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_SHAD


rev.felix
Posted 01 May 2007 at 09:51 am

Cesium said: "This is inexcusable for the medical people involved. Yet let us not forget that if many of those infected had kept their roosters in their own barnyard, they would not have become “test subjects”, eh."

nairobired said: "What? So because they became infected with a disease they didn't even know existed they are ultimately at fault? Even after an effective and proven treatment was available? I guess you think that all those "fags" who died of AIDS in the early 80's deserved it too. You're out of your goddamn mind.

I don't think that's what Cesium's saying. Whether or not they deserved it, whether or not they even knew about it is beside the point. The point is if they had not been having sex with people other than thier wives, they would not have become infected. If they got it from thier wife, she was wrong to be having sex with someone else. I'm not saying they deserved it, but they wouldn't have had to worry about it if they were doing it right.

On another note,

Spike said: "Even pie can't make this one okay."

Damn, someone beat me to the pie!


drakkar060
Posted 01 May 2007 at 09:55 am

thingummy said: "Are you a Conspiracy Theorist or is this on the up-and-up? When did this happen? Where can I read about it?"

Sadly, it is on the up an up. July 1966 was the time of that particular bacteria but it went on for 20 years.

Leonard Cole, a college professor at Rutgers University at the time, wrote a great book about it called Clouds of Secrecy. Based on government records, courtroom testimony and interviews, focuses on biological-warfare testing and the U.S. Army's expanding program to develop cheaper and more effective biological weapons. Cole traces the growth of the biological arsenal during World War II, reviews the scientific literature (which questions the Army's contention that bacteria used in tests are harmless) and assesses the spraying of several American locales, including San Francisco and the New York subway system. He charges that the Army failed to monitor the health of the targeted population, and quotes from a 1981 trial in a case brought by a San Francisco family, one of whose members is believed to have died as a result of the 1950 test in that city. Reflecting on "the human capacity to confuse good intentions with harmful actions." Cole concludes with a discussion of the ethics of spraying unsuspecting citizens with bacteria and the need for protection against such experiments.

It was nothing short of an atrocity that recieved national outcry and was quickly forgotten, just like everything else in America. We quickly dismiss things like this as conspiracy theory because its so crazy and evil that we can't belive our leaders would do this to us.

They can. They do. They still get re-elected when they're done.


drakkar060
Posted 01 May 2007 at 10:19 am

smokefoot said: On the subway bacteria release, there is a mention of this on Wikipedia - but it also confirms that this bacteria is considered harmless - even used in Japanese and Korean food:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacillus_subtilis"

It is "not considered harmful to humans" has a very special meaning to scientists. Peanuts are "not considered harmful to humans" yet estimates say about 1% of americans would have a LETHAL allergic reaction to them.

Bacillus Subtilis produces an extracellular toxin 'subtilisin', which has very low toxigenic properties and would not harm a healthy person at any reasonable exposure. Hell, its found in dirt. However, this proteinaceous compound is capable of causing allergic reactions in individuals. Spray millions, literally millions of people, and you cannot with any aire of professional competence say there would not be deaths involved.


agooga
Posted 01 May 2007 at 10:42 am

The Tuskegee experiments are a shameful blot on the face of American medicine and science, but remember, that in America (as in all free nations) it is possible to legally end an injustice, to seek redress and hopefully punish those who did wrong.

You can't really compare American science experiments to the Nazis-- it took a war and a raiding of the entire nation to expose their wrongs. In America, it took one man who spoke out. Granted it took some time, but it was accomplished.


peznin
Posted 01 May 2007 at 11:00 am

"I don't think that's what Cesium's saying. Whether or not they deserved it, whether or not they even knew about it is beside the point. The point is if they had not been having sex with people other than thier wives, they would not have become infected. If they got it from thier wife, she was wrong to be having sex with someone else. I'm not saying they deserved it, but they wouldn't have had to worry about it if they were doing it right."

As the article explains, syphilis can be in its latent phase for several years. Even if someone was a serial monogomist and got this from one partner, they could pass it on to another partner years later and not even be aware they were infected.


Radiatidon
Posted 01 May 2007 at 11:31 am

nairobired said: "What? So because they became infected with a disease they didn't even know existed they are ultimately at fault? Even after an effective and proven treatment was available? I guess you think that all those "fags" who died of AIDS in the early 80's deserved it too. You're out of your goddamn mind.


It does not matter how someone gets sick, it only matters that everyone is given equal opportunity to available treatment. Once you inject morality or personal opinion or judgment in treating a patient, you're going to get questionable medical results, and this is one of them.

"We have no further interest in these patients until they die."
Dude. What if that was YOU or your mom they were talking about, just because of the color of your skin?"

So you accuse me of flipping both the race and religion card, eh?

I never stated that they deserved not receiving medical attention, just that if MANY of them had been more loyal and less promiscuous in their sexual activities they would not have gotten the disease.

You used the derogatory “fag” and insult me. My statement was that mainly a cheating "partner" transmits this disease. My brother and a longtime friend were homosexual and both died of AIDS. Not because of their lifestyle, nor because they were gay, but because in both instances their “partners” cheated on them, and brought the disease home. Both were very dedicated to their “partners” and did not sleep around. I got to witness my brother’s anguish when he tested positive and confronted his “partner”. Listened to first the lies then the apologies of that “partner”. My friend lived in Alaska and my brother lived in Oregon. Though I did not know my friend’s “partner”, I received a very “detailed” report from his friends. Anyway, these people who were very close to me died without the support of their “partners”. In both cases the “partners” tested positive and shortly after skipped out.

I had to watch them both die (at different times in my life). I had to research the disease to overcome my own fear of it, rather than be short-minded and racially bias towards the disease and those affected by it. I think I have a very valid reason to hate anyone that cheats on a “partner” be they gay or otherwise, especially if they bring the disease home. That is why I said “MANY of those infected” instead of “ALL of those infected”

Next is race, I am a minority, not that it is really any of your business. I have also experienced the insult of racism because of the color of my skin, both in social gatherings, employment, and medical. So don’t get all “High and Mighty” with me. I have been there, seen that, been affected by that, “Dude”!

Thanks for the support rev.felix, but this hit a sensitive nerve.


rustytrumpet
Posted 01 May 2007 at 11:39 am

This probably isn't going to be popular, and I'm just trying to look at this from a different perspective, but out of this sick perversion of science there had to have been some important advances in understanding the mechanics of the disease. The article mentions the Nazis, and while I'm definetly not trying trying to say anything pro-Nazi, they basically pioneered organ transplants. While they gained that knowledge in horrible ways, they nonetheless advanced medical science and have positively affected many people. After writing this I feel like I need a shower.


Rockadilly
Posted 01 May 2007 at 11:54 am

Is it not shameful that there are those who use others to advance their research only to claim it is for the advancement of mankind? Regardless of the pain and suffering they inflicted on others.


shanachie
Posted 01 May 2007 at 12:03 pm

Is it just me or does the phrase "painless sores" grate?


Cesium
Posted 01 May 2007 at 12:30 pm

Oops sorry for the confusion. A friend was helping me with some problems on my website and I used his computer to post my last statement. I didn’t think about logging in since it posted just fine. Now that I am back home, I see what I did. The last statement quoted as being by Radiatidon was really mine. Once again I apologize for the confusion.


HiEv
Posted 01 May 2007 at 01:17 pm

Cesium (a.k.a. Radiatidon) said: "This is inexcusable for the medical people involved. Yet let us not forget that if many of those infected had kept their roosters in their own barnyard, they would not have become “test subjects”, eh."


nairobired said: "What? So because they became infected with a disease they didn't even know existed they are ultimately at fault? Even after an effective and proven treatment was available? I guess you think that all those "fags" who died of AIDS in the early 80's deserved it too. You're out of your goddamn mind.

Thank you for saying what I was thinking. Some of the people in this study could have gotten it from their wives, that got it from their first husbands, who died of syphilis. Meaning that neither the husband nor the wife had sex outside of marriage. Second of all, it's kind of a religious egocentrism to assume that everyone has to think like you do in that sex outside of marriage is some sort of "sin." Furthermore, the "blame the victim" mentality, along with a side of "it serves them right" superiority, just makes me ill.

What's worse is that this kind of thing is still kind of going on with these "abstinence-only" sex "education" programs, that don't actually teach people how to have safe sex, and are often filled with misinformation. Studies have shown that students who take "abstinence-only" programs tend to have a higher rate of STDs and teen pregnancies than students who went to programs that actually teach how to have safe sex, despite having sex at about the same rates. And yet the public makes no fuss about how this demonstrably inferior "education" program means that there are more unwanted pregnancies and sick/dead people when it could have been avoided. And guess which group is to blame for this? (Hint: It isn't scientists.)

nairobired said: ""We have no further interest in these patients until they die."
Dude. What if that was YOU or your mom they were talking about, just because of the color of your skin?"

FYI Radiatidon (or your sock-puppet Cesium), nairobired was responding to the jerk doctor from the article who said the part he quoted above, not you. Stop being so defensive and pay attention.


Bryan Lowder
Posted 01 May 2007 at 02:18 pm

Although racism played a huge part, I think the moral of this story is more about the morality and ethics of scientific research. One could envision poor or ignorant folks of any race being used this way.

Cesium said: "..... Yet let us not forget that if many of those infected had kept their roosters in their own barnyard, they would not have become “test subjects”, eh."

Aside from the insensitivity of this comment, it's unlikely that every last case was due to infidelity or indiscretion. Rape or infidelity of a spouse could afflict the "innocent". And tertiary-phase gummae are "teeming with spirochetes", according to my microbiology text. Certainly that could cause nonsexual transmission in close quarters. There are known cases of syphilis from innoculation.


sarujin
Posted 01 May 2007 at 02:25 pm

The point is not about sexually transmitted diseases or the result of anyones moral actions. If I got a disease from killing puppies and was brought into a study to see the results of my deadly puppy-killing-transmitted illness, I have the right to know that they are studying me for that reason. These people were not told they had a deadly disease. They were told it was "bad blood" and told they were being treated.

In a "real" study, you are told what they are studying and what the risk is. You are told that you may get a placebo, you may get the real deal. This was not an informed consent study. It was a lie. They kept them dying do see the results of a curable illness.

The morality of the participants should not be up for discussion. There are many ways to get an STD. Some of the children were born with it. To say, they should "had kept their roosters in their own barnyard" is a cold remark of artificial morality. If it were you....


Cesium
Posted 01 May 2007 at 03:02 pm

HiEv said: "FYI Radiatidon (or your sock-puppet Cesium), nairobired was responding to the jerk doctor from the article who said the part he quoted above, not you. Stop being so defensive and pay attention."

High Evolution, I am not Radiatidon, nor a sock-puppet. Just go eat your steak & cheese sandwich. His wife was showing me the changes, and I basically did use his system to post. When he gets back I’m gonna get some serious crap.

I did fly off the handle on that last part from nairobierd, and rereading the post, it does not necessarily mean me. But that “fag” remark hit too damn close to home as an insult, so I unfortunately took the second part as an attack as well.

sarujin said: "The morality of the participants should not be up for discussion. There are many ways to get an STD. Some of the children were born with it. To say, they should "had kept their roosters in their own barnyard" is a cold remark of artificial morality. If it were you…."

…and…

Bryan Lowder said: "Aside from the insensitivity of this comment, it's unlikely that every last case was due to infidelity or indiscretion. Rape or infidelity of a spouse could afflict the "innocent". And tertiary-phase gummae are "teeming with spirochetes", according to my microbiology text. Certainly that could cause nonsexual transmission in close quarters. There are known cases of syphilis from innoculation."

In my post I said “most”, perhaps "some" would have been better. I never stated that all the participants were “stepping out”, and I do know that disease can be transmitted by other means, including to the newborn from the mother. I just have this vile hatred of anyone that cheats on his or her “partner”, be it male or female. A relationship should be respected regardless.


los_jerks
Posted 01 May 2007 at 04:31 pm

I hate to interrupt a pretty good argument with a stupid joke, but here goes...ahem...

"Hi" "everybody", "I'm" "Cesium." "I" "sure" "do" "love" "using" "quotes" "for" "emphasis." "I" "find" "it" "really" "drives" "home" "the" "message." "Don't" "you?"

Sorry again. Thanks, though, to Alan for another story about something I'd never heard of before.


petepal55
Posted 01 May 2007 at 05:07 pm

the government and the doctors acted as they did because they considered the negro an inferior type of human. as the nazis considered the jews, as the white settlers in america considered the native humans - both north and south america. oops, make that the world, not just america.

but not just whites. the japanese considered the natives of their islands inferior when they moved in, and did for centuries, perhaps still do. many african tribes consider their neighbors inferior, and are doing something about it as we talk our comfy buns off. its a human thing, murder, rape, prejudice, stealing... normal, expectable behavior.

its up to [the culture, the society, the chosen form of government, religious leaders, the Leader(s), the System], to set rules of behavior.
just like the System says treating disturbed people is relatively unimportant, just put 'em out on the street, we aint payin for their care. they aint worth the time and $ it would take to help them...they are, after all, subhuman.
even the medical community, 'if a depressed patient (in state/VA treatment) misses an appointment, they have to initiate re-contact.' unless they were paying $150/hr, then call them!
just like treating those people over there, or over here, or even way over there, as subhuman. 'they aint us, so they can be abused at will'.
cant leave out the religious Leaders ' we are Gods chosen so our feces aint aromatic.'

sorry for ramblin, feelin a lil 'let down' lately by my 'Leaders'.


Chris
Posted 01 May 2007 at 05:07 pm

It is interesting that toxic cocktails of mercury or arsenic were once considered effective treatment. I believe the legendary Doc Holliday used this stuff, to no avail. So, who did it cure??!! And didn't we have an earlier story with Clinton apologizing? In comparison, I wonder what other presidental apologies are documented?


Cynthia Wood
Posted 01 May 2007 at 06:21 pm

Chris - the toxic cocktails did actually work for some patients, though they were incredibly dangerous. Isak Dineson (the Dutch writer who's memoir was made into the movie Out of Africa), was treated successfully for syphillis this way. They were, for their time, quite innovative, as they were the first thing that actually did work at all.


Cynthia Wood
Posted 01 May 2007 at 06:21 pm

Glah - whose memoir. Sorry.


sh0cktopus
Posted 01 May 2007 at 06:58 pm

I've heard about the Tuskegee experiments before - unfortunately it was in the movie "Half Baked." Dave Chapelle's character Thurgood Jenkins tells a scientist that his grandfather was in the experiment so he can get some government weed. Oh yeah, Floj, marijuana pie.


chudez
Posted 01 May 2007 at 09:28 pm

Cesium said: "This is inexcusable for the medical people involved. Yet let us not forget that if many of those infected had kept their roosters in their own barnyard, they would not have become “test subjects”, eh."

This is a moral judgement that implies that people who get a venereal disease somehow "deserves" to get sick. I won't go into detail as to how absurdly false that implication is but I will try to rebut this argument by asking: what about those born with congenital syphillis? How did these children ever "deserve" this disease?


rev.felix
Posted 01 May 2007 at 09:54 pm

HiEv said: "...it's kind of a religious egocentrism to assume that everyone has to think like you do in that sex outside of marriage is some sort of "sin.""

I'm trying to think how to tell you it's a sin whether you like it or not without sounding fanatical.


What's worse is that this kind of thing is still kind of going on with these "abstinence-only" sex "education" programs, that don't actually teach people how to have safe sex, and are often filled with misinformation. Studies have shown that students who take "abstinence-only" programs tend to have a higher rate of STDs and teen pregnancies than students who went to programs that actually teach how to have safe sex, despite having sex at about the same rates. And yet the public makes no fuss about how this demonstrably inferior "education" program means that there are more unwanted pregnancies and sick/dead people when it could have been avoided. And guess which group is to blame for this? (Hint: It isn't scientists.)

I don't suppose you'd like to cite said studies. And point out said misinformation.


FYI Radiatidon (or your sock-puppet Cesium), nairobired was responding to the jerk doctor from the article who said the part he quoted above, not you. Stop being so defensive and pay attention."

Technically if there were any sock-puppets involved, Radiatidon would be Cesium's puppet, not the other way around. But these days my money would be on a muppet.

Cesium said: "...I am not Radiatidon, nor a sock-puppet. Just go eat your steak & cheese sandwich. His wife was showing me the changes, and I basically did use his system to post. When he gets back I’m gonna get some serious crap."

Eh, Cesium's radioactive, so it all works out anyway. Although I could use a steak & cheese sandwich. And maybe a slice of pie...


rev.felix
Posted 01 May 2007 at 10:01 pm

chudez said: "This is a moral judgement that implies that people who get a venereal disease somehow "deserves" to get sick. I won't go into detail as to how absurdly false that implication is but I will try to rebut this argument by asking: what about those born with congenital syphillis? How did these children ever "deserve" this disease?"

I shall rebut your rebuttle:
1. (Exodus 20:5) - "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,"
2. (Deuteronomy 5:9) - "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,"
3. (Exodus 34:6-7) - "Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations."
4. (1 Cor. 15:22) - "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive."

If you don't think the Bible is fair game, then that's just too damn bad.


Lisette
Posted 01 May 2007 at 10:36 pm

The article was DI... as usual.

The arguments that followed lost track of the main point!!!
This was not the first study to be carried out in this fasion and by no means will it be the last. Look up on how research is being carried out in Africa for polio. Medical Ethics! - Nonexistent.


Silverhill
Posted 01 May 2007 at 10:43 pm

rev.felix said: "I'm trying to think how to tell you [that sex outside marriage is] a sin whether you like it or not without sounding fanatical."

No need to sound fanatic -- just acknowledge that, with respect to your god, or your religion, such sex is sinful. Keep it in perspective, that is, because there are religions whose tenets do not include this notion.

"Eh, Cesium's radioactive, so it all works out anyway."

I doubt, of course, that our fellow poster Cesium is notably radioactive.
If you mean the element cesium, well, only some of its isotopes are radioactive. Only when you get beyond bismuth, in the periodic table, are all isotopes radioactive....

rev.felix said: "I shall rebut your rebuttle:"

[nitpick] "rebuttal" [/nitpick]

God said: "[I] will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations."

Punishing the guilty makes sense. Punishing the innocent, now, makes no sense. The members of the second, third, and fourth generations did not participate in whatever the crime was, so they should therefore be without blame.
This principle has a parallel in, for instance, the U.S. Constitution. Article III, Section 3 states:
"The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted."
(from a glossary): "Corruption of Blood was part of ancient English penalty for treason. It was usually part of a Bill of Attainder, which normally sentenced the accused to death. The corruption of blood would forbid the accused's family from inheriting his property."
So, the framers of American law felt that heritable punishment was a Bad Thing. This strikes me as more equitable, more morally defensible, than the stance taken by God.
Were the 18th-century Framers, then, more morally advanced than your God?


Tink
Posted 02 May 2007 at 01:17 am

DI! Alan. Learnt about this in medical ethics class.

The sad thing about medical testing today is that it has now become morally wrong to test meds on creatures other than humans. (Thank you PETA).
So, the only options now availiable, aside from recruited volenteers, are to use cells or bacteria to test new drugs on.

Unfortunatly cells and bacteria can not report symptomologys such as dizzyness,headache, nausea, fever,depression, etc.

After years of research, before a drug is approved for use in people, it must be tested on human subjects.
The recruiters for these human studys, frequently still, prey upon the poor and simple minded.

The homeless and mentally ill are often asked to be in these double blind studys.

I have seen no less than six people (mentally ill) who were stable and close to living a reasonalbly normal life, untill they were lead to the golden trough of free room and board, free medications (*maybe*) and a monetary stipend that was 2-3 times more than the SSI paid.

They only had to give up the meds they were on for a month or two and take the new wonder drug that these kind people were offering, give a few tubes of blood, live comparativly high on the hog for a while, and record how they felt.

They would be helping science, and other people, and be greatly compensated and admired for this wonderful service to humanity.
Great deal all round right?

Reality check: Many do not make it to the begining of the study. They have to be clean of all meds before the new one is introduced.
This results in the natural re-presentation of their original psycosis. Paranoia, will often prevent one from taking the meds. Phobias will prevent one from makeing appointments.

Placebos will force one into the pit of psycotic dispair and decompensation. If they are non-cooperative in the studys then they are let go with a bus ticket home. Whether they still have any idea of where home is or not. Of course by not finishing the study the promised $ riches are not paid.

Even the ones who manage to complete these studies are so F-ed up that they can not comprehend who, where or why they are. They are often lost on the streets, with maybe a 1000 $ in pocket, at the mercy of the elements, criminals, and others who prey on the weak.

Then of course there are the two % or so who get the test drug, have no side effects, and show wonderful and great improvement on it.

"Success cases"? No, after the study, they can have no more of the drug as it has not yet been approved for market and is unprescribeable.

And so they are to began another month of hell, to cleanse the system and try in the resulting breakdown to re establish old prescriptions, fight with SSI to get their checks reinstated,find a place to live, etc.

Three of the people I began to tell yall about are now dope drugged out, living on the streets, too sick and dangerous to be admitted to even the homeless shelters.
One had a stroke and is now being fed pap and wearing diapers in a nursing home.
One commited suicide, and the last is living with me...She will never be the same girl who joined the study.

Forgive my extremly long post here, but Alan you hit a nerve in me. As for now I have promised my people that those vultures will never cross this homes threshold again; and if any one wants to join or sign up with one of these studys, then I will bid them a fond fare thee well. It it too much heartbreak to bear witness to again.

I say to all, if your outraged by medicaly unethical treatments and studys, the cost of approved drugs today and the abuse of the poor and weak; then stop voteing against them.

Allow stem cell research. Allow scientists' to dope up and opererate on monkeys and mice. Be brave and scream NO! to the Unethical Treatment of People. You, your mom or child could someday need that orphan drug, the one that is too expensive for the pharmeceautials to manufacture.


wh44
Posted 02 May 2007 at 04:07 am

rev.felix said: "If you don't think the Bible is fair game, then that's just too damn bad."

If your going to use the Bible: God's ethics, which are inscrutable (see Job), are not the standard to which people are held accountable. God knows things we cannot and so does/allows things that may not make sense to us. But Christ asks us to be kind to all people under all circumstances, even when they have wronged us ("turn the other cheek").

Sure, some of the participants did not have the moral high ground - but that does not make what the doctors did right. The "kept their roosters in their own barnyard" comment smacks of excusing the doctors for something that is morally repugnant in terms of the ethics put forward in the Bible.


Brandie
Posted 02 May 2007 at 06:11 am

This sentence from the beginning of the article seems to sum it up nicely:

"from these noble beginnings, a lack of funds and a shortage of ethics led to one of the most shameful clinical mishaps in US history."

Good intentions - bah! Isn't lack of funds and a shortage of ethics the problem with most things these days?


Hoekstes
Posted 02 May 2007 at 06:17 am

nairobired said: "I guess you think that all those "fags" who died of AIDS in the early 80's deserved it too."

Definately


Byrden
Posted 02 May 2007 at 07:58 am

This kind of thing is not in the past. The US military is using Depleted Uranium in Iraq and elsewhere, knowing that the resultant dust causes a host of serious conditions in people who come into contact with it, including US troops.


HaintWilliams
Posted 02 May 2007 at 08:28 am

Punishing the guilty makes sense. Punishing the innocent, now, makes no sense. The members of the second, third, and fourth generations did not participate in whatever the crime was, so they should therefore be without blame.

Though this is absurdly tangential to the conversation, I wanted to note that the above statement is extremely ethnocentric. Many cultures practice "collective guilt/generational guilt" in one form or another, and to one degree or another. Though to the western mind this is sheer illogic, one must remember there are philosophical arguments against even OUR accepted form of "guilt". I mean how can you punish a man for what he did yesterday? If the police apprehend him while he's helping an old lady across the street, the day after he robbed a bank, is he a criminal? I mean, personally...i would say "yes", but to believe that this label of "criminal" is now applied to him in all of his activities is reminescent of Aristotlean essences, which is itself part of the western grand tradition of believing that our "logic" is universal.

At any rate, I just wanted to demonstrate that this whole strive for non-ethnocentrism can lay to waste conservative AND liberal arguments. For example, we often hear that "you can't legislate morality." No...as a matter of fact, morality is the ONLY thing you can legislate.


agooga
Posted 02 May 2007 at 08:28 am

"The US military is using Depleted Uranium in Iraq and elsewhere"

Can you prove that?


solitas
Posted 02 May 2007 at 09:55 am

>> On 16 May 1997, President Clinton apologized to the surviving Tuskegee patients on behalf of the nation: "..._And_I_am_sorry_."

And _that_ didn't bring the dead back to life?


shnookylangston
Posted 02 May 2007 at 10:35 am

agooga said: ""The US military is using Depleted Uranium in Iraq and elsewhere"

Can you prove that?"

http://www.google.com/search?q=depleted+uranium+ammunition&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

Google is a wonderful thing.


agooga
Posted 02 May 2007 at 01:11 pm

I've only just heard of depleted uranium, but had no understanding of it when I asked for proof.

A cursory look into it seems to suggest that it is used as an ammunition and as a shielding material based on it's density. Many nations are attempting a ban, which France, the UK and the US have so far opposed.

DU ammo was indeed used (and might still be in use) in the current Iraq war.

The health effects are not clearly understood and are in debate at this time, but there is strong suspicion. Some claim that "Gulf War Syndrome" is related to use of DU ammo-- not yet proven.

So, I didn't know what this stuff was when I asked for proof-- I thought the poster was making a claim that the US was using or testing an illegal radioactive weapon. It appears that this weapon is "legal" but controversial.

Personally, at this point, I have no opinion about it's use.


HiEv
Posted 02 May 2007 at 02:00 pm

HiEv said: "…it's kind of a religious egocentrism to assume that everyone has to think like you do in that sex outside of marriage is some sort of "sin.""

rev.felix said: "I'm trying to think how to tell you it's a sin whether you like it or not without sounding fanatical."

If you want to believe that, fine. If you want to say your religion believes that, fine. If you want to say that it's true for everyone, and that all other belief systems that disagree are wrong, then I'm afraid you're going to sound fanatical.

rev.felix said: " I don't suppose you'd like to cite said studies. And point out said misinformation."

Actually, I did already. I guess you didn't follow the Wikipedia link I posted earlier so you could see those studies, so here's that link again:

Wikipedia: Abstinence-only sex education
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abstinence-only_sex_education

rev.felix said: "Technically if there were any sock-puppets involved, Radiatidon would be Cesium's puppet, not the other way around."

Only in a limited sense if what "Cesium" posted is true.

rev.felix said: "But these days my money would be on a muppet."

I think we agree here. :-)

Regarding your Bible quotes suggesting that children are guilty for "the iniquity of the fathers," thanks for posting one of my favorite examples of flawed Judeo-Christian "morals." ;-) Of course, if one wants to cherry pick, you can find Bible passages saying the exact opposite thing:

1.) Deuteronomy 24:16 - "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin."

2.) 2 Kings 14:6 - "But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin."

3.) Jeremiah 31:29-30 - "In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity."

4.) Ezekiel 18:20 - "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him."

So, the passages from the Bible you quoted say it's acceptable for innocents be to condemned for their parent's sins, the passages I quoted say the opposite. Since the Bible contradicts itself here, as it often does, it's up to humans to rely on their own judgment to determine what is right and what is wrong. Based on the comments here it's obvious that most people today agree that it is not reasonable to say that the innocent should to suffer due to the sins of others. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the Bible passages on this topic disagree. To me this contradiction, among other things, suggests a flawed and earthly origin of the Bible's passages, thus putting it on poor footing as a source of universal morals.

Regardless, none of the men tested in this study deserved what happened to them, nor did the scientists have the right to withhold the medicines that could have saved the lives of those men and others. Even without the Nuremberg Code, the Hippocratic Oath should have kept them from continuing their study once a successful treatment had been discovered. On this I hope most of us can agree.


nairobired
Posted 02 May 2007 at 03:01 pm

Cesium said: "High Evolution, I am not Radiatidon, nor a sock-puppet. Just go eat your steak & cheese sandwich. His wife was showing me the changes, and I basically did use his system to post. When he gets back I’m gonna get some serious crap.

I did fly off the handle on that last part from nairobierd, and rereading the post, it does not necessarily mean me. But that “fag” remark hit too damn close to home as an insult, so I unfortunately took the second part as an attack as well.

…and…

In my post I said “most”, perhaps "some" would have been better. I never stated that all the participants were “stepping out”, and I do know that disease can be transmitted by other means, including to the newborn from the mother. I just have this vile hatred of anyone that cheats on his or her “partner”, be it male or female. A relationship should be respected regardless."

you know, this argument just proves my point. again, it DOES NOT matter how someone contracted the disease, from their first wife, from the neighbor down the street, from inoculation, or from the person they cheated on. stop judging people and just provide treatment.
part of the hippocratic oath is "To keep the good of the patient as the highest priority." i think that is the most important thing to keep in mind here. race, religion, personal bias, whatever, it all falls away when youre a doctor. thats what that oath is for. and for anyone to suggest that someone shouldnt receive treatment based on race or religion, or that someones behavior warrants refusal of treatment, shows an appalling lack of respect for human life. this mindset has brought us such lovely sayings as, "Kill em all and let god sort em out, " or "Nuke _____ (the blank being whichever country is giving us trouble at the time)." this is an awful and counterproductive way to go about existing.
the aids thing was the closest example i could think of a where a minority with a contracted disease was ignored because the rest of the world thought it was their fault or that they deserved it. obviously, since i dont know you, there is no way i could have known that your nerve would have been struck. sincerely sorry for your losses. if anything, after all you've been through, i'd think that you'd be that much more sympathetic, seeing as how any one of those men could have been conceivably put in the same place as your brother or friend. but no, for some reason, you just assumed the most obvious way for these men to contract syphilis was by cheating on their assumed spouses.

WHAT??!?! where the hell did you get THAT from?!?!

because you projected your own experiences onto a patient. which is exactly what im saying doctors have taken an oath not to do, and is just a good thing to avoid in general, projection. a good example of this that really pisses me off is these bible-thumping shithead pharmacists who deny women prescribed birth control. now. today. in 2007. sigh.
as for the minority thing, this bothers me too. youre right, it doesnt matter that youre a minority, in that it doesnt make your opinion any more valid. i think it has been explained that i wasnt being "High and Mighty"with you, just quoting the article. again, id think that because of all youve been through, you'd be more sympathetic with these people. i mean, these are your people, right??? but i guess that doesnt really matter in the end. after all, Eunice Rivers was ok with it.
i sometimes feel like im in an unfortunate minority: a person with a conscience. (too melodramatic?)


wh44
Posted 02 May 2007 at 03:54 pm

HiEv: I think you must have skipped my post - maybe you should have read it before saying that the Bible contradicts itself about the visitation of the sins of fathers on their sons. I hate to point out the obvious, but: God != Man. :-)


Spike
Posted 02 May 2007 at 04:41 pm

nairobired said:

i sometimes feel like im in an unfortunate minority: a person with a conscience. (too melodramatic?)"

Well, move over, because your not alone, I am a person with a conscience as well. But I also remember that Jesus taught the greatest commandment of all was to love God with all your heart, mind and soul and to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Also, isn't there an awful lot of "judge not lest ye be judged" in the Bible too.
Some of you could really use some pie with a heaping scoop of love.


Coherent
Posted 02 May 2007 at 06:33 pm

Some of my vengeance fantasies involve going back in time and blowing the shit out of a certain number of "doctors" who were despoiling the good name of all heath practitioners everywhere. Clearly, they weren't listening when they took their oaths.

On another note, DamnInteresting, it looks like you have a certain amount of off-topic commenting infiltrating your comments section. I suggest you exercise some due diligence about keeping comments directly related to the story at hand. Letting the infection spread unchecked could poison your readership and legacy.


Joel Gibson
Posted 02 May 2007 at 11:33 pm

wow, this is some crazy ranting. DI article though, crazy stuff like that always makes for a good read. Full disclosure and treatment after the cure was found would have been nice. What purpose could they have for continuing the study after the cure was discovered.


furball
Posted 03 May 2007 at 01:37 am

Viewer of this site for about a year,never bothered registering,read this article while "Beautiful World" by Devo was playing.......how appropriate.


westcliffer
Posted 03 May 2007 at 01:54 am

Thanks for the informative article, which I accessed from my wonderful iGoogle page. I knew about Tuskegee but did not realize it continued into the 1970's. Amazing! I thought the experiment ended soon after WWII. Horrifying that medical professionals could rationalize withholding the cure to such a debilitating disease from their patients, especially in light of the horrible medical experimentation discovered in Germany. Were they so arrogant that they did not fear comparison to the Nazis when their "work" was discovered?


Bolens
Posted 03 May 2007 at 02:39 am

westcliffer said: "Were they so arrogant that they did not fear comparison to the Nazis when their "work" was discovered?"

Good question. Unfortunately, the answer can only be "yes." When a person operates out of a moral platform of situational ethics, this is the kind of idiocy that occurs. Two or more wrongs don't make a right. Any glance at the daily news shows us similar tales. So sad. And yet people still violently oppose any written moral code upon their lives. Sorry, boys and girls, you are not God.

For "the Bible contradicts itself so I can live like I want to" crowd, remember that any text out of context becomes a pretext. In looking at this article it is clear there were no winners. Everyone needs to ask themselves, "What do I chase after?" If it is money, sex, or power, this tremendous article displaying the sinful nature of man is a wake up call.


rev.felix
Posted 03 May 2007 at 09:53 am

I belive I am being misunderstood, or perhaps I'm just misunderstanding myself. In any case, what I was trying to say is that all the doctors are at fault and some but NOT all the patients are. As regarding my religious arguments, I didn't make the rules, I'm just quoting them. And yes, I should try to remember that not everyone thinks the same as I do. On a side note, perhaps this site should be renamed Damn Pie.


absenceofanecho
Posted 03 May 2007 at 10:50 am

Ethics and morality always make for lively conversation.

DI, Alan. I appreciate the informative and interesting material I find on this site.

:]


GMBurns
Posted 03 May 2007 at 11:37 am

This kind of thing could change your perspective on national health care, couldn't it.

The people who carried out this horror were probably normal people who got caught up in doing something they thought was good and useful. But people who think they are doing something good and useful have a tendency to take over deciding_what_is good and useful. They themselves won't even be conscious of what they are doing, as these people weren't. In the long run, all government programs to take care of you will end up like the Tuskegee study.

Good luck.


Coherent
Posted 03 May 2007 at 12:20 pm

The funny thing is that the extremist rationales that cause this are very much alive and well and on display in the comments section of this article. "Our work is so important that our test subjects must die to complete it" is not so far from "All men are sinful and evil and only God leads to moral action", or "All government programs will end up like the Tuskegee study".

Extreme visions, extreme actions. The conditions that caused this are all living right here in the comments, alive and well. And the Nazi parallels are there too. Not all nazi's were bad. Just the guys in charge, mostly.

So this is a case of good people doing bad things because of a psychological quirk of human nature. Some sort of human mechanism that makes us compartmentalize evil actions in the context of greater good so that we don't recognize what we're doing.


HiEv
Posted 03 May 2007 at 03:42 pm

wh44 said: "HiEv: I think you must have skipped my post - maybe you should have read it before saying that the Bible contradicts itself about the visitation of the sins of fathers on their sons. I hate to point out the obvious, but: God != Man. :-)"

I didn't skip it, and I did read it, however many believers claim that the Bible is the word of God, not the word of man, and thus is a prime source of morals. My point is that since the Bible does have contradictions like the ones I pointed out then it seems more likely to be the work of fallible human beings. Frankly, I'm unconvinced that any gods exist, let alone the Judeo-Christian one.

You said, "God knows things we cannot and so does/allows things that may not make sense to us. But Christ asks us to be kind to all people under all circumstances, even when they have wronged us ("turn the other cheek")." Then why does Jesus say that it is right for people to be tortured in Hell for eternity over something as simple as saying the wrong words?

Matthew 12:36-37 - [Jesus said,] "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgement for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." That seems rather hypocritical in the face of his commandment to others about "turning the other cheek." Heck, Jesus once cursed a fig tree for not having any fruit (see Matthew 21:18-19 or Mark 11:12-14 & 20-22).

That aside, the laws given in the Old Testament are not usually about forgiveness, they are about punishment, and Jesus says in Matthew 5:17-20 that he did not come to overturn those laws, and that they are still in full effect. That creates another contradiction, as Jesus' "turn the other cheek" comment in Matthew 5:38-39 and Luke 6:29 directly contradicts the "eye for an eye" laws given in Exodus 21:23-25, Leviticus 24:19-20, and Deuteronomy 19:21. Thus, once again, we find Biblical contradiction and are left to use our own judgment to determine what is proper ethical behavior.

Bolens says: "When a person operates out of a moral platform of situational ethics, this is the kind of idiocy that occurs. Two or more wrongs don't make a right. Any glance at the daily news shows us similar tales. So sad. And yet people still violently oppose any written moral code upon their lives. Sorry, boys and girls, you are not God."

Ignoring the question of whether any gods even exist, nobody is God, the Bible contradicts itself, and we can't speak to God (despite what some claim), so we are forced to figure out ethics ourselves. Some claim to speak for God, but they are not God either. Honestly, if you cannot justify your ethics without resorting to the authority of a being that may not even exist then there may be something wrong with your ethics.

I don't oppose a moral code, written or otherwise, but I oppose having one foisted upon me that based on a writings that are contradictory, unreasonable, out of date, illogical, and based in a religion I have no belief in. Imagine someone tried to impose Sharia (Islamic law) upon you, wouldn't you oppose it?

Bolens says: "For "the Bible contradicts itself so I can live like I want to" crowd, remember that any text out of context becomes a pretext. In looking at this article it is clear there were no winners. Everyone needs to ask themselves, "What do I chase after?" If it is money, sex, or power, this tremendous article displaying the sinful nature of man is a wake up call."

Just because some people reject the Bible as a source of moral authority does not mean that they do so for selfish reasons. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't do drugs, I don't sleep around, I don't crave money or power, I rarely lie, I don't cheat or steal, and I'm an atheist. As a secular humanist I believe in helping others and behaving in a way that betters society in general. Take a look in the prisons and you'll see that the Bible doesn't necessarily lead to moral or ethical behavior. Ethical behavior is something you have to choose for yourself, and it is something that can be done with or without religion.

I apologise for going off-topic here, but I felt this had to be said.


CptPicard
Posted 03 May 2007 at 07:20 pm

@rev.felix:

As someone with a disability-causing congenital illness that has nothing to do with venereal disease and everything to do with DNA, I find your Old Testament-style attitude to be rather scary. These sorts of "karmic laws" that make disabled people or their parents or grandparents automatically "sinners" as they/their offspring are apprently being punished for something, are a major cause of discrimination against the disabled in more "uncivilized" parts of the world. I'd really rather not see them spread to our general cultural sphere.

It's just more reason to think the Bible is, frankly, bullshit, if according to it a few switches flipped wrong in a molecule in my body is explainable by the "sins of my fathers". I suggest you look into the modern understanding of the causes of disease -- in this case it may lead you onto a path leading to understanding -- *gasp* -- evolution...

@GMBurns,

No, it really doesn't. I would hazard a guess that some profit-motivated agency would be even more likely to commit atrocities in the name of medical research. There is nothing in the story that suggests that government-funded/provided healthcare in particular would be prone to such issues; there is a right and a wrong way to do things, and openness and ethical standards are required no matter the framework.


yesyouam
Posted 03 May 2007 at 08:57 pm

I used to enjoy the comments on this site as much as I enjoyed the articles. Now it's so filled with the stupid pie crap and bible-thumping nonsense, it's hardly worth the effort to skim through it for the good stuff. Thanks for effectively dumbing down a once glistening forum, knuckleheads. I suppose I should just go back to reading the comments on Daily Rotten.


gopalan.evr
Posted 03 May 2007 at 08:59 pm

Kitch said: " It clearly shows the terrifying depths that mankind will delve into in the name of science. Another great job, Alan."

in the middle ages, people inflicted untold torture on others to "save them from hell", in the name of religion. all people need is a fig leaf of an excuse to be infinitely cruel to "others", often for the "progress of the mankind(?)"


mkp
Posted 03 May 2007 at 09:27 pm

HiEv said: Ethical behavior is something you have to choose for yourself, and it is something that can be done with or without religion.

"

Booyah!! throw all your ideologies and religion out the window because when it comes to the crunch that's all you need to know. Well said HiEv. Pretty much echoes my philosophy that everything good in religion can be had without religion.


tednugentkicksass
Posted 04 May 2007 at 12:22 am

yesyouam said: "I used to enjoy the comments on this site as much as I enjoyed the articles. Now it's so filled with the stupid pie crap and bible-thumping nonsense, it's hardly worth the effort to skim through it for the good stuff. Thanks for effectively dumbing down a once glistening forum, knuckleheads. I suppose I should just go back to reading the comments on Daily Rotten."

I'm sorry, it's my fault. It seems idiocy follows me everywhere (and precedes me sometimes) . But seriously, it seems ever since I started considering posting, stuff got off topic (on every article) so maybe I'll never post a comment again.

Back on subject though (kind of), isn't one of the possible causes of Stalin's death syphylis? If that's the case, STDs aren't ALL bad. I mean, GOD may have syphylis it on earth just to kill Stalin, right? That would make it a righteous disease, wouldn't it? I wish 'i could make my sarcasm drip as it should online.


ironcross
Posted 04 May 2007 at 04:34 am

Understandably, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study motivated a deep distrust of the US medical establishment among African Americans, an effect which still lingers today.

Alan you write some good articles but I have to disagree with this assessment, at least as far as when I visit any physicians in the Baltimore area. I also have to disagree with this as far as employment in those medical facilities goes.

What really disturbs me is the ongoing guilt perpetuated by the Clintons in regards to blacks and racisim in this country. As far as I am concerned, no group of people had it worse from European influence than the American Indian. Some were made slaves I am sure but the vast majority of them were killed when confronted by the Americans. And there is no telling how many treaties the US government turned its back on in relation to the Indians. At least a whole lot from watching movies and Daniel Boone when I was a kid. I would like to see the Indians one day incorporate a better lobby in Washington so they could be stronger in the vote. Then they will be able to reap the fruits of the government as the blacks have done so well.


Bolens
Posted 04 May 2007 at 05:00 am

The very nature of the story delves into ethics; sorry to those who think everyone's great input on the real problems in the story is off topic. Situational ethics ruled the roost at Tuskegee. All involved thought they were living life "ethically," and they probably thought they had life pretty well all figured out. Please, everyone, never fear the discussion ef ethics, you never know how much better of a person you can become.

HiEV, you had a great question about Sharia law. I personally would not welcome it, for I see how women are treated. Better than anarchy, but not much, in my opinion. Winston Churchill, in the year 1899 said, " The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men." (The River Wars)

HiEV, I don't quite understand your linking Bible and prisons. But in an obverse way they are truly linked. I personally know men who accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior while in prison, and become productive gentle citizens after their release. I don't know anyone who became a model citizen in prison by choosing atheism. Everyone is born an athiest.

Many think that if all religions were outlawed, our world would be a better place. I tend to think that anarchy would prevail, not utopia. Give two babies one toy and see how they play together. Or read flaming posts. We are wired towards selfishness, not selflessness. Mankind is not naturally good.


Rinson Drei
Posted 04 May 2007 at 09:01 am

There are no set standards of ethics. Therefore, there is no moral or ethical ground for condemning the doctors involved. Who are you people to judge health professionals based on your personal standards of right and wrong!

(tongue firmly planted in cheek)


Rockadilly
Posted 04 May 2007 at 09:05 am

tednugentkicksass said: "I'm sorry, it's my fault. It seems idiocy follows me everywhere (and precedes me sometimes) . But seriously, it seems ever since I started considering posting, stuff got off topic (on every article) so maybe I'll never post a comment again.

Buck-up there teddy. So you made a dumb remark, which some jackanap used to insult. Just proves that person’s mental ability is limited. Overlook it and keep on posting. You do slip some decent thoughts into the blog without becoming an overbearing coxcomb.

Heck, look at Cesium. He/she posted some interesting things about temperature then shoved the proverbially foot down his/her throat with the insensitive comment about proggin' the neighbors willow bush.

At least your not jackn the intellect linage away from the main thread to rant about atheism = great, religionist = idiots like the painfully longwinded HiEv. Personally I think the religieo and atheisums debates get crammed into the closet, the door locked, and these bloggins get back to what we read these for. Interesting facts.

Any who, the morals and/or ethics issue, seem to breakdown whenever one’s personal ideals blind them to the suffrage of those they use to achieve an end.


Circlehead
Posted 04 May 2007 at 09:17 am

Well said, HiEv. You covered all the bases nicely and I couldn't agree more.

Funny how any discussion at all that involves religion inevitably becomes boring and senseless, though. I suppose the two opposing sides are just irreconcilable.


rev.felix
Posted 04 May 2007 at 09:48 am

Must - resist - urge - to rip on - athiests.


HiEv
Posted 04 May 2007 at 10:07 am

Bolens said: "HiEV, I don't quite understand your linking Bible and prisons. But in an obverse way they are truly linked. I personally know men who accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior while in prison, and become productive gentle citizens after their release. I don't know anyone who became a model citizen in prison by choosing atheism. Everyone is born an athiest."

I was actually pointing out that there is no link between being religious and staying out of prison in the first place. Yes, "finding Jesus" may help some people, but I wouldn't be surprised if you also knew men who found Muhammad, joined the Islamic faith, and also became "productive gentle citizens after their release." It's not just Christianity that helps.

Besides that, parole boards generally look favorably on religious behavior, so for one seeking parole there is pressure to become religious (or at least act religious.) There is no similar pressure to become an atheist in prison, and considering the prejudice against atheists, there is pressure to hide your atheism. Atheists are often assumed to be unethical, even though the facts do not support that assumption. Just because you say that you don't know of any atheists that fit the case you describe doesn't mean it can't/doesn't happen. It may have even happened to some people you knew, but they simply wouldn't admit it. Roughly 1 in 20 people in the US are atheists, ya' know.

Honestly, what you are discussing is just anecdotal evidence anyways, not science. If you look for examples of something it's not surprising if you find a few, that doesn't mean it's usually the case though. What you really need are some objective studies to determine if there is any long term effect of religion on former convicts in preventing recidivism. Many may believe that religion helps prevent people from returning to crime, but without scientific studies that's just speculation and possibly wishful thinking.

Bolens said: "Many think that if all religions were outlawed, our world would be a better place. I tend to think that anarchy would prevail, not utopia. Give two babies one toy and see how they play together. Or read flaming posts. We are wired towards selfishness, not selflessness. Mankind is not naturally good."

We are not babies so I wouldn't use them as an example of humanity in general. Give two adults one toy and most of the time they'll share. I don't believe we're wired for one thing or another, I believe we are wired for both selfishness and selflessness, and that for the most part mankind is usually good.

Yes, we do need some generally agreed upon ethical code, but I see no reason why it should be based in any religion. I don't think religion can or should be outlawed, I just think that people need to take a more honest look at these religions. You will find that most people hold evidence in favor of their own religion to a lower standard of proof than they do for any other religion, and conversely, evidence against their religion to a higher standard of proof than for any other religion. If they were all held to the same standard I think you'd find that they're all just about equally valid.


kgb
Posted 04 May 2007 at 01:52 pm

nairobired says:

"i think it has been explained that i wasnt being "High and Mighty"with you, just quoting the article. again, id think that because of all youve been through, you'd be more sympathetic with these people. i mean, these are your people, right??? "

"Your people?" Beware the Imus route!

You know, half of why i love visiting DI.com is the rigourous and, surprisingly more often that not, intelligent and interesting debate. Sure, it gets a little vicious now and then, but even those posts for the most part end with the extension of an olive branch, or slice of pie.

As a sidenote, I think it's really impressive when someone is a humanist not out of fear of hell or anticipation of heaven, but out of their own personal feeling of empathy and respect for mankind. Faced with nothingness, and yet, to not feel nothing.


Spike
Posted 04 May 2007 at 02:33 pm

Okay, I won't mention pie but on a serious note, even when I don't agree with someone's post, I generally find other's thoughts and opinions thought provoking. I read articles on this sight even when I don't fully understand some of the science in the article or responses, but that is how I choose to learn. Even though I am long out of college, I still consider myself a student. It is hard, however, to read articles like this and not ponder the nature of man's souls and the ability of human's to be cruel or uncaring in the name of making the world better for others.

So, for those who find some of the off topic discussions or injections of humor annoying, I ask that you remember it takes all kinds to make a world and it would be a dull world if we were all the same. Please be patient with those of us who occasionally go around the barn to make a point and let me apologize by quoting Puck from a Midsummer Night's Dream:
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:


mkp
Posted 04 May 2007 at 10:25 pm

kgb said: As a sidenote, I think it's really impressive when someone is a humanist not out of fear of hell or anticipation of heaven, but out of their own personal feeling of empathy and respect for mankind. Faced with nothingness, and yet, to not feel nothing."

I think this may be to do with the fact that a lot of people (myself included) don't live purely for the anticipation of what awaits them beyond this life but live for the time we have now in an existance which is guaranteed, despite the accompanying guarantee that it is also inevitably going to finish. Therefore while we are here we should make good where we can however we can for not only our personal benefit but for others also because it would be a shame to live in fear of an afterlife which may never eventuate.
My personal opinion of the afterlife is that the notion of heaven and hell is simply a way to coerce people to "behave" by focusing on the human need to be rewarded (ie: acting selfishly) rather than the rare trait of selflessness. Sure it would be great to have an afterlife but I'm not banking on it. Call it a lack of faith if you will but I figure I'm going to conduct my life in a way that makes the present a better place.


mkp
Posted 04 May 2007 at 10:27 pm

Just to add - It's hard to look around at the world which surrounds us and say we are faced with nothingness.


fvngvs
Posted 05 May 2007 at 02:37 am

So I'm going to enter this discussion late, but enter it I will.

As always, "Thanks Alan!" 9.2 on the DI-o-meter for me. The best thing about these articles is the iscussion and the supplementary reading that people add.

The comments and discussion thread may diverge way off-topic, but I normally find that people really do have (their) good reason for holding the views they do. It's always worthwhile thinking about these comments before dismissing them out of hand. In this case Cesium really did provoke a spirited debate; thankyou Cesium, the conversation was nearly as interesting as the original article.

While I'm ranting I'll also say that I like all the pie-shaped comments, too.


westcliffer
Posted 05 May 2007 at 03:44 pm

My comment here was my first posting to this site, and I must say that I don't appreciate Bolens attempting to use it to advance his or her obvious mission to get us to follow the Bible to the letter. Ethical behavior is something you have to choose for yourself, and that is something that can be done with or without religion. Please don't use this forum as your personal pulpit, Bolens. And to Coherent: I did not say that all Nazis were evil human beings -- of course many of them were forced; I mentioned medical experimentation, and clearly Dr. Mengele was a morally and ethically bankrupt individual. Seems a bit hostile in here...


Reaper
Posted 05 May 2007 at 05:23 pm

The problem with any universal moral codes is that, especially in America, morality is as subjective as it can get. That is to say, chances are that 49% of the population is going to find irreconcilable fault with any moral code implemented. It is easy to dismiss people such as these Tuskegee doctors or even the Nazis as morally reprehensible people (though far from wrong -- these are extreme cases, but there is a gray area), but for all intents and purposes, morality is little more than a construct of the society in which you live. By that token, Nazis may have been a fairly moral lot -- only when viewed through the filter of our own value system are they seen as such monsters. No, the Tuskegee folks can't hide behind that excuse. Sick bastards :P

For an example of this, you can talk to many Muslim "slave" women who wouldn't have it any other way. That is the society they grew up in, so that is the society they prefer; further, they find our moral systems...well, morally reprehensible. Murder, rape, suicide, etc (pretty much anything that our value system decries), are all part of this. Somewhere out there, there is a culture which values it and knowingly volunteers to partake of it (as the victim, that is).

Near as I can tell, there's simply no way to get around this. Perhaps forcing morality upon a large group of people for enough generations that they forget their own cultural values would work (it seems that America is kinda-sorta doin' it), but in the meantime, the people who are branded criminals for engaging in what they view as moral behavior are kinda screwed over. Oh well.

Eh, didn't tie into the article as closely as I'd like. I'LL POST IT ANYWAY! TAKE THAT -- er -- PEOPLE!


Jeffrey93
Posted 06 May 2007 at 01:58 pm

nairobired said: "What? So because they became infected with a disease they didn't even know existed they are ultimately at fault? Even after an effective and proven treatment was available? I guess you think that all those "fags" who died of AIDS in the early 80's deserved it too. You're out of your goddamn mind.

It does not matter how someone gets sick, it only matters that everyone is given equal opportunity to available treatment.

These posts are all pretty comical to read. First, did they cure AIDS and I just missed it? People are still dying from it, wasn't just back in the '80s.

Equal opportunity to available treatment. What a crock of shat. I think you are the one that is out of his goddamn mind.
Are you really trying to tell me that the American health care system is setup to be equal to everyone? Please. Whoever has the money gets the treatment. Was the same back then, is the same now. The only difference is back then things were racially motivated....today, things are financially motivated.

Equal opportunity to available treatment, that's laughable. Thanks for making me laugh.


Ironclaw
Posted 07 May 2007 at 08:19 am

Did anyone note who broke the story? (Or More importantly who didn't..)

In 1966, a venereal disease investigator named Peter Buxtun learned of the study and sent a letter to his department director expressing his moral concerns regarding the experiment. ....
Nonetheless Buxtun continued his efforts to bring attention to the questionable ethics of the study, but his words failed to penetrate the tangled mass of bureaucracy and racism at the CDC....
an article appeared in the Washington Star newspaper ... written by Jean Heller in response to a letter sent by Peter Buxtun ....

So Buxtun was the person that brought awareness to the issue. One can play armchair quarterback, but is there any more information on Dr. Clark and his role?

As I see it Dr Clark comes up with the idea for the study, organizes the study, and then gets the project rolling. He then observes that the project is snowballing out of control, he objects to what is happening.... then retires and sits down?

To me its like a camper making a campfire.. which gets out of control.. he tells his neighbor campers that his fire is out of control.. then packs up and drives home while the forest burns..

Why wasn't there a greater focus on this man and his involvement. (I.e. its a great story, but I would have loved a little more info on him if at all possible.)

I just wonder why Dr. Clark didn't do more, especially given his level of involvement.


mycobacterium
Posted 08 May 2007 at 06:11 pm

Wow, these comments have it all! Religion, atheism, cheesesteak, and pie!

As a healthcare professional in training, it is a terrible ethical - that is, medically ethical - mistake to consider the source of the patient's illness. My job is solely to take care of my patient. I may need to determine how the patient got sick in order to do my job, but I am bound by the (here is that word again) ethics (gulp) of my profession to keep my mouth firmly shut about my opinions. The very first day of class, our professor told us, "It is a patient's sacred right to make stupid decisions about his/her life." This helped me to learn how not to judge others' behaviors, freeing me to simply care for them to the best of my ability and knowledge.

As far as Clinton apologizing for this terrible black mark on American medical history, I say it takes a strong man to do the right thing, but an even stronger man to admit when the wrong thing has occurred.


wh44
Posted 10 May 2007 at 07:49 am

My apologies to all those who don't want to hear about Bible and religion here. In my defense: interpretation of morality is the main theme of this article, and morality is usually based on religion.
HiEv: Sorry about the long delay, I'm going to try to make as short an answer as possible:

many believers claim that the Bible is the word of God, not the word of man

Agreed. Personally, I believe it is man's best attempt at reproducing the Word of God, as the people of the time experienced Him. As such, it is good, but not without error.

I'm unconvinced that any gods exist, let alone the Judeo-Christian one.

I'm not 'convinced' on the rational level - I simply 'feel' God exists. I am convinced that we are meant to understand the world and not be blinded to reality by belief. If reality and doctrine collide, it is doctrine that has to give.

Then why does Jesus say that it is right for people to be tortured in Hell for eternity over something as simple as saying the wrong words?

Two things: 1) I have experienced anguish in *this* world for saying the wrong words which hurt someone unintentionally. 2) Heaven/Hell is a theme all its own - I believe they are the same place: imagine you are in the presence of a loving Father, who knows everything you've done, who you have hurt and helped and why. Imagine how you feel then, reviewing your life with Him.

cursed a fig tree

You ever hear of allegory? I cannot understand the Bible without them.

the laws given in the Old Testament are not usually about forgiveness

Correct. The whole of the law, in short, is: "Love God" and "Love your neighbor". All other laws spring from those two. At the time of the Old Testament, this meant moving away from the overkill of family vendettas, carried on over generations, and moving towards parity. At Jesus' time, people were ready to advance to forgiveness.


HiEv
Posted 10 May 2007 at 11:11 pm

wh44 said: "morality is usually based on religion."

Actually, my point above was that religious texts are often both for and against most "moral" positions, thus morality is usually actually based on personal choice regarding what religion supposedly says, though cherry picked religious texts are often used as the only reason for some supposedly "moral" positions.

wh44 said: "I'm not 'convinced' on the rational level - I simply 'feel' God exists. I am convinced that we are meant to understand the world and not be blinded to reality by belief. If reality and doctrine collide, it is doctrine that has to give."

An admirable theistic stance. I wish more theists would see things that way. I really don't care whether people choose to be religious or not, as long as they don't try to interfere with anyone else's liberty for purely religious reasons (like preventing same sex marriage) or try to use it as an excuse to try to push pseudoscience as reality (like young Earth creationism) or fund programs that are ultimately harmful (like the "abstinence only education" thing) using taxpayer money.

wh44 said: "Heaven/Hell is a theme all its own - I believe they are the same place: imagine you are in the presence of a loving Father, who knows everything you've done, who you have hurt and helped and why. Imagine how you feel then, reviewing your life with Him."

I think you have an incredibly uncommon position on that, and it's contradicted by the Bible to boot. Still, if that were true I wouldn't feel at all uncomfortable as an ethical atheist. Not believing in something improbable that is unsupported by good objective evidence is nothing to be ashamed of.

Also, I'd take issue with God standing by and allowing bad things to happen when He could stop it. I find any omniscient and omnipotent god's "morals" to be rather questionable. We complain about the doctors and nurses that allowed the Tuskegee syphilis study to continue for decades after a cure was available, affecting the lives of hundreds of people, but God did nothing to stop it either. Why are the doctors and nurses morally culpable and God (supposing He exists) is not? "Free will" is a lame duck argument. Peter Buxtun didn't take away anyone's free will when he alerted people to the study, so why was your "loving Father" silent in that situation? I'd take issue with any god who behaved like that when he/she/it could have stopped it.

wh44 said: "You ever hear of allegory? I cannot understand the Bible without them."

I agree, and I'm well familiar with allegory, however that doesn't excuse the treatment of that innocent fig tree. The Bible doesn't say Jesus told a story about that, it says that Jesus cursed a fig tree for having no fruit and caused it to wither. That doesn't seem to be rational or just behavior. The moral of that story doesn't even make sense, since Matthew 21:21-22 suggests that it was done to show that any people with real faith and no doubts can also cause innocent fig trees to wither and mountains to throw themselves in the sea. Huh?!? Ya' know, James Randi has a $1 million prize for anyone who can demonstrate either of those abilities. ;-)

wh44 said: "Correct. The whole of the law, in short, is: "Love God" and "Love your neighbor". All other laws spring from those two."

Including God's 10th commandment, "Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk" (Exodus 34:26)? Sorry, some of those laws have nothing to do with either of those things, they're just crazy rules written by ancient people. Also, "love your neighbor" is deemed unimportant the second that neighbor contravenes any of God's laws, then it's OK to stone him to death. That doesn't strike me as a particularly good set of morals.

wh44 said: "At the time of the Old Testament, this meant moving away from the overkill of family vendettas, carried on over generations, and moving towards parity. At Jesus' time, people were ready to advance to forgiveness."

But doesn't the "forgiveness" require that you continue to believe that people can be guilty for their ancestors' sins? That kind of thinking seems to suggest that family vendettas are reasonable or that forgiveness couldn't have been accepted before. I reject both of those suggestions.

P.S. @Rockadilly, apologies for being long-winded. Yes, I suck at brevity, but I've found it tends to increase misunderstandings. And speaking of misunderstandings, I'm not saying "atheism = great, religionist = idiots," all I'm saying is that being a theist doesn't necessarily make you ethical or mean that you have a reasonable code of ethics, nor does being an atheist mean that you can't be ethical or have a reasonable code of ethics (as far too many seem to assume.) I think atheism is more reasonable, yes, but both groups have had members that were extremely ethical and members that were extremely unethical. So, it's not the group they're a part of that is important, but the actual behavior of those individuals that really matters.


wh44
Posted 11 May 2007 at 06:40 pm

Apologies to any who dislike the discussion about religion and length. In response to HiEv:

Actually, my point above was that religious texts are often both for and against most "moral" positions

My original point was, that your apparent contradiction, was not a contradiction: one set of quotes referred to the morals people should have, while the other referred to the actions of God. God is not our role model.

as long as they don't try to interfere with anyone else's liberty for purely religious reasons (like preventing same sex marriage)

This is a subject on which I could write much more. Suffice it to say: 1) the government should promote responsible raising of children, but otherwise stay out of the bedroom. 2) religions can do whatever they please regarding sanctifying a marriage or not - if I am at variance with my religion's stance, I have three choices: change my stance, work for change, switch religions.

or try to use it as an excuse to try to push pseudoscience as reality (like young Earth creationism)

I totally agree. See my arguments for evolution here: Two Eggs - Hold the Sperm

or fund programs that are ultimately harmful (like the "abstinence only education" thing) using taxpayer money.

Abstinence can be taught as a good alternative, but keeping the facts from youth, as is done in many such programs, is simply criminal.

I think you have an incredibly uncommon position on that, and it's contradicted by the Bible to boot

Confession: though I am defending the Christian position for the most part, I am a Baha'i. I cannot claim to be speaking for all Baha'i though.
I think Heaven/Hell was used as an allegory - I don't think most people of the time would really have understood something so metaphysical.

I wouldn't feel at all uncomfortable as an ethical atheist

Much as the Bible (and Baha'i texts) contradict this, I agree with you. There's a whole lot of reasons, Bible based and otherwise, why I think this. It's a hornet's nest in general, so I think I'll leave it with this: honesty is better than dishonesty.

Also, I'd take issue with God standing by and allowing bad things to happen when He could stop it.

Again: our moral understanding is not applicable to God. You think an ant has an understanding of us? How much greater the difference between us finite beings and the Infinite.

cursed a fig tree for having no fruit ... doesn't seem to be rational or just behavior

Despite its usual interpretation as a real story, my interpretation is different: you know the quote "you shall know them by their fruits"?

and mountains to throw themselves in the sea

Again, allegory: in general, people achieve more if they believe they can.

Including God's 10th commandment, "Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk" (Exodus 34:26)?

You're equating a lesser law with a commandment. You know better than that. :P

"love your neighbor" is deemed unimportant the second that neighbor contravenes any of God's laws, then it's OK to stone him to death. That doesn't strike me as a particularly good set of morals.

I would agree, that this is not a good set of morals for today's society. However your argument does not consider:
1) Not all laws in the Old Testament have stoning to death as punishment. 2) These laws were for a different time and people in a different situation.

But doesn't the "forgiveness" require that you continue to believe that people can be guilty for their ancestors' sins?

No. We're back at the original argument: what applies to God does not apply to people.

That kind of thinking seems to suggest that family vendettas are reasonable

No, just prevalent.

or that forgiveness couldn't have been accepted before

I think you have learn to walk (eye for an eye) before you can run (forgive).

:-)


HiEv
Posted 12 May 2007 at 02:59 pm

wh44 said: "My original point was, that your apparent contradiction, was not a contradiction: one set of quotes referred to the morals people should have, while the other referred to the actions of God. God is not our role model."

That's just bad thinking IMO. You would have God be a hypocrite and say it's reasonable, but I say that being a god is no excuse for standing by and allowing harm when you could easily prevent it. You would give gods a free pass to do whatever they do, including contradict their own commandments, while I would do no such thing. Putting yourself above the law is criminal behavior, even if you're the one who made the laws, and I don't think more power makes you less responsible for your actions (or lack thereof,) it makes you more responsible.

wh44 said: "religions can do whatever they please regarding sanctifying a marriage or not"

For clarity: I wasn't saying government should force religions to allow same sex marriages in their churches, I'm saying religions should not be telling the government who can or cannot get married.

wh44 said: "Again, allegory: in general, people achieve more if they believe they can."

Unless they assume prayer and faith is a substitute for real effort and hard work, in which case their belief will actually cause them to achieve less. Besides, that wasn't what Jesus was saying at all, he was saying that true faith in God will allow you to achieve actual miracles. That has nothing to do with believing in yourself.

HiEv said: "Including God's 10th commandment, "Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk" (Exodus 34:26)?"

wh44 said: "You're equating a lesser law with a commandment. You know better than that. :P"

Actually, I do know better, because that is the actual 10th commandment given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai according to Exodus 34:18-28. Just after the passage I quoted above (in Exodus 34:28) it even calls those commandments "the Ten Commandments." Amazingly, only a tiny fraction of Christians are actually aware of this Ten Commandments v2.0 that God put out after Moses smashed the first set in disgust (see Exodus 34:1.) The fact that this set of commandments is ignored and mostly forgotten while the first set is revered just emphasizes what I mean in respect to the fact that Jews and Christians actually pick which laws they follow based not on the Bible, but on their own ability to recognize right and wrong.

wh44 said: "1) Not all laws in the Old Testament have stoning to death as punishment. 2) These laws were for a different time and people in a different situation."

1) Far too many OT laws do have a death sentence, even for things as minor as picking up sticks on the Sabbath. 2) And that's the problem with people trying to apply OT laws today. You'd think an omnipotent God would have foreseen that problem and given laws that would work in all times, eh? ;-) Still, the moment you reject any of those laws in the Bible you are admitting that you can figure out right from wrong yourself, and that some of the laws in the Bible are wrong, so you might as well throw the whole thing out and work out a better system of morals without it.

wh44 said: "I think you have learn to walk (eye for an eye) before you can run (forgive)."

There is nothing that suggests that that era was any more "forgiving" than all of the eras before it. Besides, I'd be willing to bet that forgiveness is a trait of humanity that long predates ~30 CE. :-)


sulkykid
Posted 13 May 2007 at 06:30 am

HiEv said: "... Still, the moment you reject any of those laws in the Bible you are admitting that you can figure out right from wrong yourself, and that some of the laws in the Bible are wrong, so you might as well throw the whole thing out and work out a better system of morals without it. ..."

Oh, come on, that's not a very rational point.


wh44
Posted 13 May 2007 at 12:32 pm

"God is not our role model."

That's just bad thinking IMO. You would have God be a hypocrite ...

Let me just extend my metaphor of before a tiny bit: say I have an ant farm with trainable ants. I can make, in our terms, very simple rules and the ants will follow them (e.g. turn left when you see an "x"). You would have me follow those rules too? The difference between our understanding and God's understanding is infinitely greater than the difference between us and an ant (or are you claiming to have infinite knowledge? ;-) )

If you want some further illustration of this point, I can look up some really good Sufi tales on the subject of the inscrutability of God's Will.

wh44 said: "Again, allegory: in general, people achieve more if they believe they can."

Unless they assume prayer and faith is a substitute for real effort and hard work

The danger exists, as you point out, that this is misinterpreted. It still doesn't make it invalid, IMO.

HiEv said: "Including God's 10th commandment, "Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk" (Exodus 34:26)?"

wh44 said: "You're equating a lesser law with a commandment. You know better than that. :P"

Actually, I do know better, because that is the actual 10th commandment given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai according to Exodus 34:18-28.

I am not and do not claim to be a Bible literalist. That said:
you are referring to the Ritual Decalogue. Most folks believe the usual (Ethical) Ten Commandments were inscribed, despite the placement in Exodus, suggesting that these were inscribed on the second set of tablets. If you really want to get into it: I think this was likely added by a later author of the OT, a priest, who was a bit zealous regarding the laws. Richard E. Friedman has a fascinating book on the authors of the Bible, "Who Wrote the Bible?". The book is a real test for those who believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and the five books of Moses were written by Moses himself - but if you believe, as I do, that it was written by mere mortals, inspired by God, then it shouldn't be a problem.

Still, the moment you reject any of those laws in the Bible you are admitting that you can figure out right from wrong yourself, and that some of the laws in the Bible are wrong, so you might as well throw the whole thing out and work out a better system of morals without it.

Do you throw out your encyclopedia when some of the facts are out-dated?

There is nothing that suggests that that era was any more "forgiving" than all of the eras before it. Besides, I'd be willing to bet that forgiveness is a trait of humanity that long predates ~30 CE.

I expect forgiveness existed before, but tell me, why would the Old Testament bother preaching "eye for an eye" or the New Testament forgiveness, if those traits were well accepted norms? Do you think the authors would want to make society less forgiving?


gamanshiro
Posted 14 May 2007 at 03:22 pm

My goodness....all this talk of religion. I do want to say though, as this is my first comment, that I find this particular article incredibly interesting. Moreover, having had many problems with my ethnicity (or rather, having had to deal with people who have had problems with my ethnicity) I find it rather refreshing to hear some of the dirt on America. Every country and their respective governments have made mistakes, I think we should just all learn how to move forward (though thats easier said than done ;) ). To not forget, but to forgive, especially when government representitives (Clinton) have tried to make amends and have publicly apologized to the people. Again, however, we should not forget our past mistakes, lest we repeat them in the future with something far more nasty than syphilis.


LiLiJ
Posted 16 May 2007 at 05:00 pm

"We (as a country) do not force our religious beliefs onto others, we do not force our ideas onto others..."

Then all the missionaries should be forcibly expelled, immediately.


sburris
Posted 18 May 2007 at 06:09 am

Makes you wonder how many we never found out about, and how many new ones we don't know about. Every time you think it can't get any worse.........


wh44
Posted 20 May 2007 at 06:27 am

LiLiJ said: ""We (as a country) do not force our religious beliefs onto others, we do not force our ideas onto others…"

Then all the missionaries should be forcibly expelled, immediately."

I've often talked with missionaries of various stripes (not just Christian). They have used logic (and illogic), appeals to authority (holy books), and other methods to try to convince me that their's is the one true religion. None has ever used force. Expelling missionaries would be using force. Lighten up. :-)


Cynthia Wood
Posted 20 May 2007 at 06:24 pm

Don't expel the missionaries! Who would I convert?

Seriously. The Jevohah's Witnesses won't come by any more because at last count I was winning by about 3:0. And the Baptists are looking nervous.


wh44
Posted 21 May 2007 at 03:15 am

Cynthia Wood said: "Don't expel the missionaries! Who would I convert?

Seriously. The Jevohah's Witnesses won't come by any more because at last count I was winning by about 3:0. And the Baptists are looking nervous."

Yep - the Jehovah's Witnesses have been avoiding my place for years now, too. I used to serve them cookies and have a nice little chat about the Bible. Always very friendly and all, but somehow, it seems to disturb them when someone knows the Bible well, but interprets it differently than they do. Mostly I don't even put forward my views, just ask the obvious questions ("How do you reconcile that with where the Bible says ...").


jaydawg53
Posted 22 May 2007 at 08:51 am

The only thing that I just could not understand about this incident is this: Why exactly were they studying syphilis? I mean, I am under the impression that studying any disease is ultimately to find a cure for it. So, after a cure was found, what exactly were they studying? Why would they continue to study a disease that was no longer a threat to humanity?

I mean, in a way, I can see the thought process behind someone that says that the suffering of a few is worth saving millions. I think it's unethical, but I still understand their logic. But there was no need for suffering anymore, since millions had already been saved. I never saw, in the article or the comments, where someone explained what exactly these scientists were trying to find out by continuing the experiement and not treating the Tuskegee people. Was it just out of sheer curiosity?


Radiatidon
Posted 22 May 2007 at 10:03 am

jaydawg53 said: "The only thing that I just could not understand about this incident is this: Why exactly were they studying syphilis? I mean, I am under the impression that studying any disease is ultimately to find a cure for it. So, after a cure was found, what exactly were they studying? Why would they continue to study a disease that was no longer a threat to humanity?"

Originally various clinics in six Southern Counties with large black populations were established in 1930 to study the disease and the effects of different types of treatments in hopes of curing it. Unfortunately the Great Depression caused funding to dry up by 1932.

The Health Service in Washington really did not want to lose what foothold that had been obtained so far on the disease. It was decided that even though it could not afford to cure the disease, that at least in a cheaper study, they could observe its effects over time. To help control costs, the larger treatment program was abandoned and resources were focused on a smaller area. An isolated and poorly educated place would be ideal. Thus was selected poor and rural Macon County.

As noted in this report by Health Services Taliford Clark; "Macon County, is a laboratory; a ready-made situation. The rather low intelligence of the Negro population, depressed economic conditions, and the common promiscuous sex relations not only contribute to the spread of syphilis but the prevailing indifference with regard to natural treatment."

By long-term studies of how disease affects the body, researches may find links to different diseases. If there is a cure for any of the related disease, if could help create cures for the others. Also studies on how a disease travels and where it resides in the body can help researches find cures. In order for this information to be accumulated, usually the first test subjects must suffer the full gambit of the disease. So shamefully, the human subjects were nothing more than laboratory test rats in this study.


HiEv
Posted 24 May 2007 at 12:23 am

wh44 said: "Let me just extend my metaphor of before a tiny bit: say I have an ant farm with trainable ants. I can make, in our terms, very simple rules and the ants will follow them (e.g. turn left when you see an "x"). You would have me follow those rules too? The difference between our understanding and God's understanding is infinitely greater than the difference between us and an ant (or are you claiming to have infinite knowledge? ;-) )"

You are conflating orders with ethical guidelines. If you were to say to your intelligent ants that no ant should kill another because it is wrong I would still accuse you of hypocrisy if you then turned around and killed ants yourself. I don't think one needs "infinite knowledge" to spot the problems of hypocrisy, nor do I believe that "infinite knowledge" is even possible.

wh44 said: "If you want some further illustration of this point, I can look up some really good Sufi tales on the subject of the inscrutability of God's Will."

No thanks. Apologetics like that just ring hollow to me. It's just people making up stuff that fits what they want to believe and excusing any contradictions. It's unfalsifiable, thus worthless.

wh44 said: "The danger exists, as you point out, that this is misinterpreted. It still doesn't make it invalid, IMO."

No, it not being true makes it invalid. A person's ability to believe they can achieve more does not necessarily mean that they can actually achieve more. For example, people who are less competent often believe they can achieve more than they can actually achieve, and the people who actually can achieve more tend to be a bit more conservative with the estimates of their own ability. In another example, a manic-depressive in a manic phase believes that they can accomplish all sorts of things, but their manic state actually means that they tend to do a worse job. They may actually do better work in their depressive phase. So, some people who believe they can achieve more actually can't, and other people actually can achieve more despite not believing it.

wh44 said: "I am not and do not claim to be a Bible literalist. That said:
you are referring to the Ritual Decalogue."

OK, but then it's still a commandment, not a "lesser law" like you said it was earlier, nor does it spring from "Love God" or "Love your neighbor" as you also claimed.

wh44 said: "Richard E. Friedman has a fascinating book on the authors of the Bible, "Who Wrote the Bible?". The book is a real test for those who believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and the five books of Moses were written by Moses himself - but if you believe, as I do, that it was written by mere mortals, inspired by God, then it shouldn't be a problem."

Well, Moses died at the end of the fifth book, so unless he either predicted his death in the past tense or wrote it posthumously, I think we can be pretty certain that someone else wrote at least part of it. ;-)

wh44 said: "Do you throw out your encyclopedia when some of the facts are out-dated?"

If I have a much more accurate and reasonable replacement? Yes, yes I do throw it out. Why hang on to inaccurate information when you've got something better? Nostalgia? A ~2000 year old dictionary isn't going to be of much use today.

Your doctor does the same thing. Or, if he doesn't, I hope you humors are balanced. ;-)

wh44 said: "I expect forgiveness existed before, but tell me, why would the Old Testament bother preaching "eye for an eye" or the New Testament forgiveness, if those traits were well accepted norms?"

The same reason every other religion has preached the exact same things, it's what people want to hear. "Treat them as badly as they treated you" and "they should forgive you when you treated them badly" are a handy pair of arguments when used against others, and the latter is inspiring sounding even if you tend to not actually apply it to yourself. A bit cynical? Sure, but take a look around and see whether that's often how you see it being applied even today. :-(


PR
Posted 24 May 2007 at 06:27 pm

A few quick comments:

1. Shameful in the extreme.

2. Consider another cause of this: The sanctity of authority. "We're in white coats, professionals, following protocols, and... the Government supports this!" (A fraudulent justification, obviously, but most people think this way.)

3. Whether or not the men were cheating on their wives is not the issue. Sure, good conduct pays off handsomely, but we've always had bad behavior, and people don't torturous deserve death for it.

4. Cruel medical experiments may provide interesting data, but we're better off tossing them in the fire. The conscious knowing that we are righteous pay MUCH higher dividends.

5. "An eye for an eye"was a limitation. "No more than an eye for an eye" was the meaning, and compared with the usual law of the time, it was a very important (and compassionate) innovation.


wh44
Posted 26 May 2007 at 08:23 am

HiEv said: "You are conflating orders with ethical guidelines. If you were to say to your intelligent ants that no ant should kill another because it is wrong I would still accuse you of hypocrisy if you then turned around and killed ants yourself. I don't think one needs "infinite knowledge" to spot the problems of hypocrisy, nor do I believe that "infinite knowledge" is even possible."

I'm sorry, I don't see the difference you are trying to make between "orders" and "ethical guidelines". A more concrete example: When my daughter was little, I told her never to play with 'wall electricity', but I do that a fair amount myself - I'm a trained electrical engineer. It's a matter of level of knowledge. I don't think it is too far a stretch to say God knows precisely how people tick on the inside, and what is good and bad for us in the long run. I do not claim any of this privilege for myself or any person - it is God, and God alone, who cannot be held to the human standard.

wh44 said: "If you want some further illustration of this point, I can look up some really good Sufi tales on the subject of the inscrutability of God's Will."

HiEv said: "No thanks. Apologetics like that just ring hollow to me. It's just people making up stuff that fits what they want to believe and excusing any contradictions. It's unfalsifiable, thus worthless."

Wow! I've never heard of Sufi being referred to as apologetics before. It's obvious you've never read a Sufi tale - I recommend you go find one and fill in the gap in your experience. I think you'd enjoy it. :-)

HiEv said: "OK, but then it's still a commandment, not a "lesser law" like you said it was earlier, nor does it spring from "Love God" or "Love your neighbor" as you also claimed."

I admit, that some strict believers consider it to be a commandment. For all practical purposes in this day and age it is not a law at all. And yes, it *still* comes from "Love your neighbor", though it may be difficult to recognize at two or three degrees of separation.

HiEv said: "If I have a much more accurate and reasonable replacement? Yes, yes I do throw it out. Why hang on to inaccurate information when you've got something better? Nostalgia? A ~2000 year old dictionary isn't going to be of much use today."

Most people do not have a better replacement regarding morality (I think Baha'is do, but that's getting off track here). Aside from that, a ~2000 year old dictionary can be incredibly valuable when trying to understand older cultures and history. That doesn't mean you always take it literally though. :-)


orc_jr
Posted 03 August 2007 at 05:41 am

Bolens said: "Everyone is born an athiest."

not that anyone is likely to read this, nor does it particularly matter, but i do like to nitpick. technically people are not born atheist because to call yourself atheist means that you believe there is no god. a newborn has no concept of a god, therefore cannot choose to believe or disbelieve.


HiEv
Posted 17 August 2007 at 04:38 am

wh44 said: "I'm sorry, I don't see the difference you are trying to make between "orders" and "ethical guidelines"."

An example of an order is "pick up the paper laying around here," while an ethical guideline is more like "it is good to clean up garbage lying around." The first is a command specific to one case or one person/group, while the latter is a general recommendation for reasons of morality.

wh44 said: "A more concrete example: When my daughter was little, I told her never to play with 'wall electricity', but I do that a fair amount myself - I'm a trained electrical engineer. It's a matter of level of knowledge."

That is a safety precaution, not an ethical guideline. It's not a matter of morality, it's a matter of safety.

wh44 said: "I don't think it is too far a stretch to say God knows precisely how people tick on the inside, and what is good and bad for us in the long run."

I certainly disagree, since it begs the questions of God's existence and (if He exists) His omniscience. Those are some mighty big assumptions to make, if you ask me. As a computer programmer I can tell you that even when you wrote all the code yourself that you can't always predict how it will behave.

wh44 said: "I do not claim any of this privilege for myself or any person - it is God, and God alone, who cannot be held to the human standard."

Which, IMHO, is an easy excuse to avoid trying to explain the apparently contradictory and sometimes outright evil appearance of some of the actions people often attribute to God. "There might be a valid explanation we don't know about," is a poor excuse to claim with certainty that there is always a valid explanation.

wh44 said: "Wow! I've never heard of Sufi being referred to as apologetics before."

Well, you still haven't because that's not what I said. I said, "tales of the inscrutability of God's will" are apologetics, and Sufism encompasses far more than that.

wh44 said: "It's obvious you've never read a Sufi tale - I recommend you go find one and fill in the gap in your experience. I think you'd enjoy it. :-)"

It's obvious that you assume too much. I read some Sufi stuff during my "fascination with cults" phase in college. You read my response wrong, I simply say that it's apologetics to start with a forgone conclusion of what happened and then try to twist the facts so that they could fit. Using fictional and cherry picked examples to support such an argument is also a form of apologetics.

The belief that God exists and is good is not fact, it's dogma. I prefer evidence over blind faith, especially when there is so much evidence to the contrary that people have to make lame excuses for that evidence.

wh44 said: "I admit, that some strict believers consider it to be a commandment."

And all the rest don't know how to read, since it is clearly called a commandment in the Bible.

wh44 said: "For all practical purposes in this day and age it is not a law at all."

You're the one who called it a "law," not me. You're arguing with yourself.

wh44 said: "And yes, it *still* comes from "Love your neighbor", though it may be difficult to recognize at two or three degrees of separation."

OK, I'm baffled. How on Earth does "Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk" come from "Love your neighbor"?

wh44 said: "Most people do not have a better replacement regarding morality [...]."

Actually, they do. You don't see people going out and stoning people anymore, do you? No, because people realize that it is immoral, despite the fact that the Bible says that it is an appropriate punishment for many, many things. It's contrary to "God's word," so where do you think that morality comes from?

wh44 said: "Aside from that, a ~2000 year old dictionary can be incredibly valuable when trying to understand older cultures and history. That doesn't mean you always take it literally though. :-)"

Agreed, using it to help understand the past is fine, but my point is that it's a bad idea to use it in the modern world as though it were still completely relevant and accurate. If I wanted to find the definition of the word "computer" in that ~2000 year old dictionary the word would not have the same meaning today or might not have even been part of the language then. It's a out-of-date guide for farmers and shepherds written by priests, all of which are few and far between in this modern world of ours.

Bolens said: "Everyone is born an athiest."

orc_jr responded:"not that anyone is likely to read this, nor does it particularly matter, but i do like to nitpick. technically people are not born atheist because to call yourself atheist means that you believe there is no god. a newborn has no concept of a god, therefore cannot choose to believe or disbelieve."

I'm afraid I'm going to have to nitpick your nitpicking. "Atheism" may mean you believe there is no god, but far more commonly it means you have no belief that gods exist. As a newborn has no concept of god, he/she cannot have a belief in gods, therefore is an "implicit atheist," someone who is without a knowledge of gods, therefore without a belief gods exist. Anyone who is without a belief in deities is some sort of atheist, therefore it does not require any conscious decision to reject gods in order to fit the definition of "atheist." See:

Wikipedia: Atheism - Definitions and distinctions
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism#Definitions_and_distinctions


Kao_Valin
Posted 17 August 2007 at 10:22 am

HiEv is now my hero heh. If there is a God, and God asks me why I was skeptical of the existence of God, I'd like you in my corner :). Not that I dont bring to bear a decent argument myself. Just, you seem to have delved into areas I havent yet touched.

Ultimately, people are able to convince themselves and be convinced that something is right and wrong. No action is inherintly either, it is only after a person has weighed it in does it inherit one of these properties. So to say that God deems something right or wrong is illogical in my beliefs. A God I believe in has no breakable laws. If a law is breakable then I always see it as a law of man, not a law of God. E=mc2 is more a law of God than anything talking about love, forgiveness, or punishment.

What can you say about morality that hasnt been argued over already? Right and wrong are really perspective based. Groups of people may not always weight the same facts the same way. So a moral code is bound to be broken. So relating back to what I already said, moral codes aren't the work of God because they can be broken. Besides, what kind've God has breakable laws? A not very powerful one I think. Makes God more like the government. Which would give me free reign to dump on it for things being crappy *thumbs up*.


JoshDestardi
Posted 22 October 2007 at 01:21 pm

It's interesting how rev.felix cherry picks the bible, to support a notion that is pure mean, cold-hearted, and inhuman...that the wives and children falling ill is expected because of the father's "sin."

The disease lies dormant, infecting partners many years between each other. That does not in itself equal promiscuity. Doesn't matter anyway..no innocent kid deserves crap like this.

ref.felix, you disgust me with holding up verses from the bible in an unthinking, cold manner.

What kind of person holds up a point so contrary to "good" just to support his opinion?


Schonton
Posted 23 February 2008 at 05:14 pm

As a current student at Tuskegee University, this was one of the first things I learned about in my orientation class. This study and its outcome led to the hospital on campus, John Andrews, to become the Tuskegee University National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care. The first center of its kind in the US. It is a very important part of Tuskegee's campus; many liberal arts classes are held there and many discussions and on forums are held there.


yehudasf
Posted 27 July 2008 at 08:05 pm

It would behoove commenters/readers alike to remember that the Eugenics movement had its inception & achieved its greatest "mind-share" in the USA. Shitler(y"sh) actually sent "educational/cultural" representatives to Stanford in the late 1920's & 1930's to learn at the feet of the "masters". Long before the vile nazi scum began the genocidal "race-cleansing" of the Jews, Romany & Sinti, 44 states in the USA had laws prescribing mandatory sterilisation of "simple-minded, habitually lazy, immoral, miscegenist, persons".
With no hesitation, these fine, upstanding pillars of their communities mandated that entire classes of persons would never be able to marry, many would be "institutionalised" for life (wherein many were made unwilling subjects of Mengele-like experimentation.

The lesson that we should take away is this, Never, ever trust any physician or physician's organisation to deal with issues of ethics, freedom (of the patient) or right to full participation in all aspect of medical care.


Mirage_GSM
Posted 20 October 2008 at 06:35 am

Might be a bit late to comment here, but:

HiEv said: "..., it's kind of a religious egocentrism to assume that everyone has to think like you do in that sex outside of marriage is some sort of "sin."

Cut Cesium some slack here please. At no point did any religious viewpoint enter his argument. He stated that "many of those infected" got the disease by cheating on their partners. Not nitpicking on whether to use "some" or "many" this is true. At no point did he express the view that those people deserved what happened to them.
It is not at all necessary to be religious to view that as "sinful". I consider myself an atheist, and still I think that cheating on your partner (without their knowledge and consent) is an amoral thing to do. (I wouldn't use the word "sin" only because of its religious connotations.)
I don't think anyone deserves contracting a disease of any kind as punishment, but if someone infects their partner with such a disease after "sleeping out", I think they deserve to be charged with negligent bodily injury!
I am lucky enough not to have lost any close friends or family because of such, and I extend my condolences to Cesium.


ValiantDefender
Posted 04 November 2008 at 11:48 am

Kao_Valin said: "...If there is a God, and God asks me why I was skeptical of the existence of God, I'd like you in my corner ...

Ultimately, people are able to convince themselves and be convinced that something is right and wrong. No action is inherintly either, it is only after a person has weighed it in does it inherit one of these properties. So to say that God deems something right or wrong is illogical in my beliefs. A God I believe in has no breakable laws. If a law is breakable then I always see it as a law of man, not a law of God. E=mc2 is more a law of God than anything talking about love, forgiveness, or punishment.


If God was a being that was created by your whim, then your statement could have some bearing on reality. He is not defined by your whim. Also, Moral laws are not broken....they're trespassed. The purpose of this life isn't to be controlled and forced to follow all of God's laws...its the opposite. Its to show free agency. Every man is agent unto himself to choose whether to do good or to do evil. In the end, trespassing Gods laws leads to a permanent consequence...that's pretty darn unbreakable. You are free to do as you choose (agency) but not free to choose the consequence (accountability).

E=mc2 is not a law of God nor of Man. Its an equation that attempts to reflect observed behavior. It will remain a "scientific" law in science textbooks until our observations show that it needs to be updated. Thus, the scientific "LAW" is not only breakable...it was flawed in the first place.


What can you say about morality that hasnt been argued over already? Right and wrong are really perspective based. Groups of people may not always weight the same facts the same way. So a moral code is bound to be broken.

Right and Wrong are universal constants. What changes is the individuals understanding of what is right and wrong...and just because some ninny misunderstands what right and wrong is, doesn't mean it changes what actually IS right and IS wrong. If object X = certain mass it is always that mass.....on earth it will weigh so much and on the moon it will weigh a different amount...yet it has the same mass. So it is with right and wrong. Whats right is always right and what is wrong is always wrong. People THINK that the weight of a choice makes a difference.

So relating back to what I already said, moral codes aren't the work of God because they can be broken. Besides, what kind've God has breakable laws? A not very powerful one I think. Makes God more like the government..."

This last bit is the best load of Tripe. The laws are working perfectly. LOL. Go break a moral law all you want. You have your agency. When the eternity of being held accountable for breaking those laws keeps rolling by for...say...and eternity, you will not doubt the power or truth of his moral laws.

ABOUT the article. Its DI for sure! Cannot believe that people would treat any other individual this way. Even a religious Zealot with misplaced ideals should at least believe in repentance and forgiveness, redemption and the like. Some people come into contact with STD through NO fault of their own. The cure {treatment} should have been offered or at least advised that it was there.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but:
Posted 28 November 2008 at 06:20 am

Bolens said: "HiEV, I don't quite understand your linking Bible and prisons. But in an obverse way they are truly linked. I personally know men who accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior while in prison, and become productive gentle citizens after their release. I don't know anyone who became a model citizen in prison by choosing atheism. Everyone is born an athiest.

Many think that if all religions were outlawed, our world would be a better place. I tend to think that anarchy would prevail, not utopia. Give two babies one toy and see how they play together. Or read flaming posts. We are wired towards selfishness, not selflessness. Mankind is not naturally good."

I definitely disagree with your bleak outlook on mankind. Yes mankind's first instinct is self preservation, but we all (Or at least a large percentage of us) have been wired to feel empathy for our fellow man. As to your prison comment; yes, religion is great on a PERSONAL level, but some people can't seem to keep it a personal thing. I think the reason christianity can save people like that is because is because these people weren't taught a moral code to begin with, and I think it's a shame that they need a religion to develop one, because really, most people don't. I heard about a study done once (I heard this from my dad but I can't remember where he heard it, so don't quote me on this because my facts could be mixed up) by some of the major world charities and they found aetheists to be the most general donors. (I'm not an aetheist myself, I believe there is a greater power, God, whatever you want to call it, I just haven't bought into any religion.)


Namewithheld98
Posted 14 January 2011 at 06:42 pm

I think that a lot of people allow their "ethics" to be dictated by what happens when they get caught. In the case of Tuskegee? Nothing. No repercussions for unethical experimentation. There has been no liability for the experimenters. And for victims - whether of Tuskegee, the CIA experiments of the 50s and 60s, the unknown Guatemalans who got their post-mortem apologies or the unknown thousands victimized by radiation experimentation... at best years of being re-traumatized by having to muck through the legal system to get compensation. It's funny, the unethical researchers can come up with every absurd and delusional rationalization for doing the experimentation, but what about for the lack of compensation for victims? If nothing else, that goes to show that their empty excuses are just that.

I believe myself to be a victim of nonconsensual experimentation. Unfortunately this has not been exposed yet. The monsters behind my protocol let me have just enough evidence to start of lifetime of wading through a justice system that is against me. The fact that they left some evidence indicates that there is an interest in how evidence is collected and presented. The fact I've witnessed crimes with decoying also indicates that this is part of the experiment.

I have "communications interferences." So I post, but I know that it's not going to get anywhere. The best a victim can do is to RUN to the nearest (or farthest) country that has strong laws against involuntary human experimentation and in favor of human subjects. My personal locus of control remains intact. My locus of control for having any impact on closing off the federal loopholes that *still* exist and allow for extremely vile and disgusting experimentation is *zero*

I suggest to any apologist that they consider for a moment that victims are chosen for their vulnerability and that they are intentionally made vulnerable for experiments to continue. I despise the apologists as much as I despise the experimenters and those in government who are aware of what went on/what's going on and have made a choice to do nothing about it.

For the people who really care - look the reason why stronger federal laws protecting human subjects can't get passed Congress after Congress. Then help me find the country where my small child and I would live the most peacefully.


END OF COMMENTS
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