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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


  1. B Elliott
    March 22nd, 2012 at 20:59 | #1

    Dear concerned:

    It has been more than an hour since I answered your question, and I have heard nothing from you. Inasmuch as silence bespeaks acquiescence, I take it that you agree with every point that I made, withdraw your question and apologize to me. I will now proceed to dance a merry jig in celebration of my victory in this debate.

    Yours sincerely,
    The Ethicator

  2. Hilde Lindemann
    March 22nd, 2012 at 21:30 | #2

    Dear B Elliot:

    Take a pill.


    • B Elliott
      March 22nd, 2012 at 22:26 | #3

      Dear Appalled: On what authority do you diagnose and prescribe medication for me? Are you licensed to do this? If I am suffering from an illness, as you allege I am, what pill do you have in mind? An amphetamine? A hallucinogen? You do not say. Only “take a pill”. Your words. There is nothing evidence-based about your diagnosis. It must be withdrawn, promptly and unreservedly.

  3. B Elliott
    March 22nd, 2012 at 22:07 | #4

    Dear Concerned: Another hour has passed, and still no word from you to concede your crushing defeat under the weight of my logic. Might I say that your silence speaks volumes? Since you have conceded by default every point in my response, including the one about committing you to a mental institution, I am sure you will not mind if I break out the bubbly. I have also set aside some streamers and noisemakers for just this type of occasion, and you’ll be happy to hear that I’ll be putting them to use — just after I call friends and family to tell them how handily I dismantled your limp, poorly formulated attempt at an argument.
    Yours sincerely,
    The Ethicator

  4. lucy
    March 22nd, 2012 at 22:47 | #5

    Dude… you are on a ROLL tonight!

  5. Concerned
    March 22nd, 2012 at 23:43 | #6

    [EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to an error in the editorial process, a comment appeared in this space, yesterday, March 23, containing numerous disabling errors of logic and fact. Plus, he wasn’t even who he said he was. We fully retract the comment, and apologize to the Ethicator.]

    • B Elliott
      March 23rd, 2012 at 21:24 | #7

      Thank you for your comment. It is long, vituperative, and intellectually worthless. I notice that nowhere in your statement do you address the main topic at hand, which is whether a scholar who has wrongly conflated my distinct, unrelated roles as Ethicator and younger sibling should, in fact, publicly repudiate his own statement and resign from his job. Instead, you change the subject by engaging in ad hominems (which, by the way, will come as a handy example to ridicule in front of my next class. Thank you!), and leave my central thesis unchallenged. Champagne please!

      Also, it is obvious to everyone that you are not the “Concerned” writer who wrote the original query. What is your agenda in impersonating someone else? Is someone paying you to comment and tweet?

  6. Champion of the Oppressed
    March 23rd, 2012 at 19:17 | #8

    The Ethicator now has the gall to use a portrait of dicephalic conjoined twins in a piece about conflicts of interest, indicating both a complete absence of understanding of the history (not to mention the epistemology and plumbing) of conjoined twins and an appalling imperialistic urge to implicate, dominate, regulate, and promulgate the bodies of women and of those who are challenged to find shirts that fit well.

    I suppose the Ethicator does not see his classic white straight able-bodied handsome thin-privileged position as anything other than reason for us to allow him this kind of latitude, but I say we burn him in effigy, after connecting his dummy to one closely resembling either his brother or someone more attractive, in case there are any fetishists whose needs so require (recognizing that no one is quite so oppressed as the fetishists whose desires cannot actually be realized by the socially-constructed limitations of the material universe).

    Unite! We have nothing to lose in this action but the comfortably cool spring temperatures that have finally descended over the upper midwest!

    • B Elliott
      March 23rd, 2012 at 22:34 | #9

      Thank you for you comments. They are poorly reasoned and empty of value. To explain the picture: Academic bloggers sometimes use images to illustrate abstract points. You seem to understand this, but you make a fatal and disabling mistake when you wrongly interpret the two-headed image to be an illustration of the reader’s (improper, false and defamatory) allegation of a conflict of interest. In reality, the image served as an abstract reference to the letter writer’s failure to grasp my distinct, separate roles as both Ethicator and as vigorous critic of cheapskate, plagiarizing older brothers. Just because person Q occupies position XXY does not mean that he or she cannot simultaneously and distinctly serve as XYY. This is a matter of basic critical thinking, and you should know this. An art history class, if not a logic class, would tell you as much, if you could pass it.

      And finally, I notice that you have done nothing to address the fundamental question at hand, which is whether our letter writer has failed to acknowledge the distinction between my two separate and distinct roles. Victory is mine, once again.

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