Archive for March, 2012

The Ethicator: Do you have a conflict of interest?

March 22nd, 2012

two faced

Dear Ethicator:

I have been reading your blog, and although you seem to be an eminent bioethicist, I am troubled by your scholarship.  You seem to hold a grudge against your brother, which seems to make you oppose everything he says and attack him every chance you get.  Are you really able to do your job properly, or is there a permanent conflict of interest at work here?


Dear concerned,

You are committing a fatal, disabling logical fallacy by conflating two distinct and separate roles I occupy: First, my role as an internationally recognized bioethicist and viral sensation, and second, my role as a younger brother to a bigshot bioethicist asshole. The two roles are distinct. By conflating them, you show a serious failure in the most basic principles of scholarly integrity, principles which have been with us since the time of Socrates. Indeed, if you were a student of mine, I would flunk you for the semester, demand your expulsion and perhaps recommend your involuntary commitment to an institution. The burden of proof is on you, not me, to demonstrate that I am not discharging my duties according to the requirements of the field. Otherwise, through your reckless accusations and serial failure in scholarship, you tarnish the field of bioethics, which you are not free to do.  You are obligated to withdraw your comments immediately, cry “uncle”, and declare your public admiration for my work.


The Ethicator


Dear Ethicator: How do I get out of here?

March 10th, 2012

Dear Ethicator,

A while back I got a spam email inviting me to be on the editorial board of a new journal.  I had never heard of it, but I was coming up for tenure, so I said yes and added it to my CV.

Last week, I finally got around to checking the Internet and found your “journal.”  Is this some kind of joke?  You said the journal was peer-reviewed and had the highest impact factor in its class.  But as far as I can tell, you spend all your time insulting your brother.  Am I supposed to have heard of this guy?  You give out terrible advice, and you whore yourself to private industry at every opportunity.  I am a strong advocate of civil discourse, and I am embarrassed to be associated with this.  Plus, I have tenure now.  So my question is: how do I get off?



Dear Regretful,

I’m sorry. I missed the part where you thanked me for saving your academic career. I’m sure you intended to start with that, because that’s the only thing any decent person could say under these circumstances. Your name is now associated with one of the three most widely cited websites in the history of the bioethics field. You have a lifetime meal ticket that can’t be revoked, as long as nobody catches you in the faculty lounge with your pants around your ankles. That’s my gift to you. You’re welcome; use it well.

How do you get on my editorial board? It’s easy: Say yes, give me your name, and – this is the hard part – shut the fuck up.  Seriously, put a sock in it.  Stay quiet, no matter what I say or do. Remember: this job is about loyalty, nothing more.  It may seem unsettling at times — in fact, there will be days when you wonder if I am a batshit crazy, self-destructive psychopath — but you’ve got to remember there’s a method to my madness, and if you stick with me, you’ll go places.

You want out now?  Look:  What you don’t realize is that you’ve already boarded this crazy train whether you like it or not.  I’ve been writing this shit for a year and a half — where’ve you been?  Sorry, too late. Your best hope at this point is to stick it out with the man who got you here.  And in case you didn’t notice, I blog and tweet like a motherfucker.  You want to cut me loose in public, hoss, go right ahead.

Your loving mentor,

The Ethicator

Advice Column, Ethicator

My Open Letter to the Chronicle

March 2nd, 2012

To the Editors of the Chronicle of Higher Education:

In his March 1 blog post on your web site, Carl Elliott makes a number of defamatory comments about “Internet trolls” who harass him online and are “occasionally funny.”   Although he does not mention my name, it is clear to everyone that he is referring to me.   This characterization is malicious and false.

According to Google’s accepted definition, trolls are “mythical, cave-dwelling beings depicted in folklore as either a giant or a dwarf, typically having a very ugly appearance.”  Fact: I am not a troll.  I am a real person, a conventionally handsome, middle-aged man of medium height and build – a far sight from being a troll.  I live in a house, not in a cave, or under a bridge.  That is a matter of public record, and Carl Elliott knows this.  Any attempt characterize me as a troll is demonstrably false, malicious, and by definition, defamatory.

Equally false and malicious is the characterization of me as “occasionally funny.”  Fact:  Among bioethicists today, I am widely recognized as one of the five funniest commentators on the Internet.  As such, I am more than occasionally funny. This is easily measured, and again a matter of public record — but again, Carl has simply chosen to ignore the facts.

Finally, Carl Elliott has failed to disclose a Conflict of Interest (COI).   Fact:  For the past year and a half, I have been operating the White Coat, Black Hat website, where I routinely ridicule him for stealing my ideas, failing to pay for his website, and being a bad older brother.  I have photoshopped his picture several times, once to look like a werewolf and another time to look like Nixon.  The characterizations obviously left him embittered, vindictive, and humorless — Certainly in no position to render judgement on my physical appearance or my sense of humor.

I expect the post to be removed by COB Sunday, March 4, or I will take the appropriate action.

Yours sincerely,

The Ethicator

PS  Carl:  You’ve been served, fucker.