White Coat, Black Hat

Carl Elliott admits I am better than him

Like Ali beating Sonny ListonIn an interview with Misha Angrist last week, Carl Elliott finally acknowledged the existence of his brother's website. Here is my long-awaited response:

Well, it's certainly pleasing to hear, after 14 months of tanking book sales and worldwide ridicule, that Carl acknowledges his brother's website (an overnight viral sensation and the most widely read bioethics website of 2011) is "much better than (his) book".  That's mighty sweet of him to say.  I guess I'll take any compliment I can get, even one dripping with false modesty and condescending fakery, in lieu of that check he never wrote.

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Things You Can Buy for the Cost of Carl’s Book, Part 16

Chemical Billy

Pepper Spray! It's hot, it's trendy. Whether you're taming protesters, thwarting a mugging or elbowing your way toward a big-ass TV, you're bound to find a use for this. Has a bioethics book ever kept you safe? No, sir. Get you a nice, big can of Chemical Billy!


I am the 53%

I am the 53%

I am the 53% (Suck it Carl)


The Ethicator Stands with #OccupyWallStreet

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Elliott, Cheney tour Canada

Carl Elliott and Dick Cheney are in Canada this week.  The former Vice President spoke at $500-a-plate dinners in Vancouver and Calgary, and was greeted with protests and calls for his arrest.  One member of Parliament suggested he be barred from entering Canada altogether.

Carl Elliott will be speaking in Toronto tomorrow.  He has not crossed the border yet.


The Alvin Brothers Feel Carl’s Pain

I'm sure it's not easy having a brother who's a runaway internet viral sensation. For what it's worth, though, Phil and Dave Alvin, formerly of the Blasters, recorded this excellent song:

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The Ethicator’s Moral Hero of the Week: Rick Perry

Click the image to view on Youtube

At last night's Republican Tea Party debate on CNN, things got a little testy over Governor Rick Perry's executive order mandating HPV vaccinations for 11- and 12-year old girls.  Michele Bachmann accused Perry of a conflict of interest with Merck pharmaceuticals,  but Perry knew just how to brush it all aside:

“It was a $5,000 contribution that I had received from them.  I raise about $30 million. And if you’re saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended.”

Amen to that. Perry practically gave it away.  Next time, Merck, if you want to mandate a vaccine, you better be prepared hand out some major scratch.

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


Things you can buy for the cost of Carl’s book, part 15


Fake Ham

A fake ham.

OK, so you've got some money burning a hole in your pocket, and you've got two choices:  One, you spend it on some undigestible piece of plastic fakery;  or two, you buy an imitation ham from DecorCentral.com.  I think you know the answer.



Things you can buy for the cost of Carl’s book, part 14

Sow in Heat Urine

Sow in Heat Urine

A spray bottle of Sow in Heat Urine! This goes for $13.19 online, only three dollars more than the cost of Carl's paperback on Amazon.  Now, I can't possibly be the first person to say that Carl Elliott's White Coat, Black Hat isn't worth a warm bottle of hog piss, but I may just be the first to offer market-based evidence.  And really, which would you rather have?

Get a hunting rifle, spray some of this on your clothes, and rutting boars will come at you like left-wing hippies to a Carl Elliott lecture. You'll eat all winter long on that.  On the other hand,  spend that money on White Coat, Black Hat, and you'll just be left with that same old empty feeling in the pit of your stomach.

$13.19 from CodeBlueScents.com.  Get you some.


Defending the Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs"Hey, everybody, look at me. I've got tenure and you suck. Want to watch me make fun of my employer? I can do that! They make money, so they must be criminals. My book is on Amazon, by the way. Have you read it? It's only $15.52."
-Carl Elliott

Today we are treated to the sad spectacle of Dr. BFD acting out his grudges against the productive class in his review of Benjamin Ginsburg's new book, The Fall of the Faculty.

What's all too clear is that, as a pampered member of the academic elite, Carl resents the democratization of education that we've seen over the last few years. The marketplace is finding less and less room for overpaid academic middlemen like him standing between the students, who pay the money, and the administrators, who take it.

Somebody moved your cheese, buddy--move on.

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Another Church joins the Movement

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Degrading the Brand

Snooki Loves White Coat, Black Hat

Snooki Loves White Coat, Black Hat

More lessons in building your brand:  Abercrombie and Fitch just made a remarkable offer to Jersey Shore castmember Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino:

We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans. We have therefore offered a substantial payment to Michael 'The Situation' Sorrentino and the producers of MTV's The Jersey Shore to have the character wear an alternate brand.  We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response.

Fair enough.  Jersey Shore castmembers, I'm wondering if I can interest you in a book.


Heroes at Globe and Mail Boldly Praise Ghostwriting

GhostwriterCheck out yesterday's copy of the Toronto Globe and Mail, where the heroes in the editorial section take a bold stance in favor of pharmaceutical companies hiring ghostwriters to publish in peer-reviewed academic publications.  I say good for them.

Now, I know what you are all thinking:  As a victim of ghostwriting myself, shouldn't I be against the idea?  Well, not exactly. If you pay your ghostwriters (unlike someone else I know),  I'm all for it.

Let's face it:  Scientists have the credentials and the name recognition, but can they make their product sound awesome?  Not a chance.  Bad self-presentation is an occupational hazard; just look at the way they dress.  Plus they're busy.

And yes, as the Globe admits, there is a danger that these Big Bad Pharma Companies will turn the articles into an advertising opportunities, but hey, that's the reviewers' job to sort out.  Which is why the Globe calls for  "particularly vigilant reading of the draft by the researchers, so that no advertising spin creeps in".  Caveat emptor, baby -- we've got bigger fish to fry.  Kudos, G&M.

The Ethicator

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



An important announcement about the PharmaVoice 100

screwI apologize for not posting sooner.  This morning, as you all know, PharmaVoice released its list of the  100 most inspiring people in the life sciences.  Mysteriously, and despite the massive groundswell of grassroots support I received, my name was not included on this year's list.

No doubt many of you will see in this the hand of a jealous sibling, or the petty vindictiveness of a powerful, pharma-bashing NGO. Of course,  it's not for me to say whether that assessment is bang-on, or whether it confirms what we really all should have known from the beginning.

What I can do is thank you all for your support, congratulate this year's winners, and appeal for calm amidst your crushing disappointment.   I know you are all angry right now, but please, keep your demonstrations respectful and nonviolent.  We are not like them.  Remember the words of Jesus:  What does not kill us, only makes us stronger.

I will be fine.   There are more accolades to garner, more contest forms to fill out, more battles to win.  Soldier on, my friends; you are all heroes, each and every day of your lives.

The Ethicator

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


Building Your Brand the Ethicator Way

A recent article in Inside Higher Ed offers some handy advice on how to build and enhance your academic brand.   Titled "The Value of Self-Promotion", the article has generated some controversy by suggesting that new academics should cite their colleagues' work for professional gain:

You should be citing all of the senior people in your field, even if their work is tangential to your own. Citation is a way of demonstrating that you know your field and you know who the key thinkers are. It is amazing how often the same person will be asked to referee your work.

Now, I can’t say I’ve spent a lot of time advancing myself in academic circles (unlike one bootlicking, sycophantic assclown whose book you may  remember); however,  as an Internet-based bioethics expert, I'll say this sounds about right.  What's academic publishing for, anyway, if not for advancing your career?  Do it right, I say.

But there's also another side of me, the Internet marketing expert, that asks the obvious questions:  Citations? Peer-reviewed journals?   Does anybody read these anymore, let alone write for them?  Seriously, what decade is this?

Listen to me:  If you want some bang for your buck, take to the Internet. And don't just cite your colleagues; any milquetoast can make nicey-nice with the boss-man.  You need to find out who your colleagues' enemies are, then  start firing away in the online forums.  Take to the comments section of the newspapers and the online media (hell, take two or three screen names if you want, and trade insults off one another).  Rack up 2500 Facebook friends, including your senior colleagues, and start wailing away at the bad guys.   All this you can do in a third of the time it takes you to write a paper proposal, yet you will reach thousands more people and leave a permanent, lasting impression on the people you want most to impress.  It's quick, it's cheap and it's unfiltered:  That's the Ethicator way.

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

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Happy Birthday, Fucker.

Thanks for ruining my life, asshole

Thanks for ruining my life, asshole.

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Happy Father’s Day

Back in 1970, Roche Laboratories was not afraid to call your dad a pussy.   Thanks to the Bonkers Institute, we have a copy of this Valium ad, which appeared in the Journal of Hospital and Community Psychiatry:

"Women dominate his universe; psychic tension can rule his life . . . domination by women has led to psychic tension. He doesn't understand the source of his psychic tension. But you do. He relates well to women with domineering traits. But not to men. Not even his own son."

Click image to enlarge

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PharmedOut Dissenters: A Profile in Courage (part 2)

Quiet!More from the brave, dissenting truth-tellers within the ranks at PharmedOut:

Dearest Ethicator,
I am so sorry to hear that we have offended you. Within our first few days as interns, we realized the mistake PharmedOut had made in overlooking your talents . We begged and pleaded to invite you to our conference. As you have assessed, the pressure that we are under from conference overlords proves to be an uphill battle. Even so, we thought the invitation had been sent out. I guess we expected too much from “the man.”

You’ll be pleased to know that “We want the Ethicator” protestors have already started camping out besides the conference location. The line rivals that outside of the Apple store when the new iPhone came out. What is it now, the 84X? Whatever. We are moved by the protesters’ determination. Their lining up skills might resemble that of those trying to acquire a very coveted object, but their camping skills and general hygiene seem more akin to attendees of Bonnaroo.

We hope that they do not line up in vain and that you will grace us with your Ethicating presence so the pleas of your fans do not go unnoticed.

We see that you have demands. However, the demands do not seem up to the standards we would like to give our most honored guest. We propose a different approach. Domestic first class is meaningless these days, without even the promise of synthetic and packaged “food” items. To make up for your having to travel by bus, we will provide you a golf cart for your transport during the conference. Moreover, the Watergate is packed with the scandal that accompanies the mostly retired. We propose that Dr. Carl Elliott be forced to allow you to sleep in his room. We imagine that the subliminal messages that you will whisper while he sleeps will force him to do terribly during his talk and regain some justice in the world.

An award would be distasteful, as it would not garner the attention that you deserve. We will provide a grand entrance for you, complete with glitter confetti and bowing fans. Perhaps we can even find someone to carry you into the auditorium. There is also a promise of a tour of Dr. Fugh-Berman’s “medicinal herb garden.” Need I say more?

And finally, bourbon. One of us is a southerner who knows that bourbon hardly tastes as good if you are drinking it without the company of people who truly know what a blessing a sip (or fifth) of Wild Turkey can be. Although we might not be able to provide the obligatory porch, we can assure you that you will find a bourbon lover within the crowd. Although we cannot provide you a name for obvious reasons, let’s just say this person cannot drink bourbon in DC without becoming terribly homesick. We do not think you will find a more true love than that.
We hope that these offers exceed your expectations. Do not fret. PharmedOut, in our mission to identify and counter inappropriate promotional practices, demands the best.

We hope that we have not overwhelmed you. Please reconsider coming to the conference. Your fans await you.

Thank you,
PharmedOut interns

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PharmedOut Dissenters: A Profile in Courage (part 1)

Freedom of SpeechAs you are surely aware by now, the extremists at Pharmed Out delivered a crushing blow to academic freedom at this week’s conference.  Snubbing the Ethicator, they brought Carl Elliott to spew his anti-pharma hatred unchallenged.  What you may not know, however,  is that a few brave and lonely voices of dissent emerged among the conference organizers, seeking to undo the damage done.  In the end, their efforts were no match for the Big Anti-Pharma forces controlling the event, but I feel compelled to repost here the courageous emails they sent me earlier this week.

Dear Mr. Elliott, B.

I hope this letter reaches you while you are seated comfortably on a giant squishy chair, listening to your favorite soundtracks, and not chained to a plastic folding chair in a cubicle somewhere arbitrarily chosen by your brother, the Other Elliott. There has been some rumor that you have not been formally invited to attend the PharmedOut conference that is being held in DC this coming week. This news has devastated me as I have been preparing to meet the Real Elliott, he with such brilliance and charisma, the mastermind. How could it be that The Ethicator would not show at such an event? It is my most sincere hope that you will come to this conference. Pretty please, with cherries on top, go to the conference! After all, B comes before C.


An Admirer

Dear Admirer,

Thank you for your courageous stand for academic freedom.  I can only imagine the pressure you must be feeling from your conference overlords, and I'm deeply moved by your steadfastness.   There should be more bioethicists like you.

As for my attending, I'm afraid the chances are now remote.  I can only encourage you to join the legions of protesters who are picketing the conference on my behalf.   It would take a lot to appease me at this point (first class flight, a room at the Watergate, and of course the usual bourbon and percocet, just for starters; an award would be nice, too).  Still, my fans have the right to hope, and to continue working for a better world.

Thank you for your heroism, and keep up the fight.

The Ethicator

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Pharmed Out: The Drinks are On Carl

White Coat Black Hat

Belly up to the bar!

OK, let's say you're putting together a big, fancy conference in Washington, DC next weekend, and you have a choice between two speakers.  One is an overpaid, mediocre author giving you the same-old same-old, still working desperately to bump his book into Amazon's top 20,000. The other, a younger brother, is a fresh new face, known for speaking truth to power.  A viral hit among the younger, Internet-savvy demographic, he is now a major candidate for some prestigious ethics awards, including this one and this one.   Rumors still buzz about an appearance at next year's DTC marketing conference.

So,  you've got a conference to put on and who do you choose:  The bold truth-teller, or your usual sycophant?

Well, guess.

Thanks for the snub, Pharmed Out.  You only make me stronger.