White Coat, Black Hat Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine

4May/110

The Ethicator: Did I vote for the right person?

Purple finger

Dear Ethicator,

I recently encountered a problem with coercion.

Someone I know of from the ethics world tried to manipulate people into nominating him for an honor. It seems that this person is trying to make his mark in the ethics world and does blatant self-promotion, sometimes at the expense of others. He decided that he should be nominated for an award given by a prestigious group from Big Pharma. He embarked on a campaign of wheedling, flattery and pleading to try to manipulate his readers into nominating him for this award. I and others were besieged by e-mails. All the same, begging to be nominated. Some of the e-mails were sent in the early hours of the morning. Not only was he obsessed with this idea, he was trying to drive us crazy, apparently hoping that his barrage tactics would force up to nominate him.

I was torn. This ethics geek seems to be dedicated, though sometimes his opinions are skewed. I really wanted to nominate someone who would merit the honor, like the world famous Carl Elliott. Or even the unemployed Randy Cohen. But, in the end, I caved in and nominated the dweeb. I was just too worn out by the endless e-mails.

Did I do the right thing?

Thanks.

MT

Dear MT,

I can see why you were torn.  A bold, fresh face bursts onto the ethics scene, skyrockets to fame, and forces you to confront your conscience. You think to yourself:  Shouldn't such courage and grace be rewarded in some way?  Who else is more deserving? And seriously, isn't filling out that little nomination form the least you can do?

Still, you realize your move will be controversial. There are so many safer nominees out there: People who have been flaunting themselves in the media for years, people who would no doubt want to bully you into nominating them instead.  In fact, who knows what the consequences will be for you, once this self-promoting narcissist learns you've passed him over for a more deserving candidate?  You face all these questions and still, you vote your conscience.  Good for you.

You did the right thing.  Sleep well.

The Ethicator

Got a moral question you just can't solve?  Send it to the Ethicator: info@whitecoatblackhat.com

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