White Coat, Black Hat

The Ethicator: Can I pay someone to write my dissertation?

Dear Ethicator,

I am a current PhD student but am worried that I am not making timely progress toward completing my dissertation. I'm contemplating purchasing a dissertation from a ghost writing organization so I can just be done already, and the website I'm considering guarantees that it is 100% plagiarism free so I don't have to worry about that! My adviser is too busy writing articles for the New Yorker and checking the sales of his own book to help me along. Can the Ethicator advise me on whether it's ethically acceptable to pay someone to write my dissertation? I mean, I'd totally read over it once before I turned it in...

Thanks Ethicator!
A concerned graduate student

Dear Concerned:

I am somewhat conflicted. As you know, I have very strong feelings about plagiarism. On the other hand, though, I see that you are paying for the work (unlike, well, you know . . .). So you're happy, the writer's happy. What's the harm? After all, If you really like something enough, isn't that kind of like writing it yourself? And if you are a serious bioethicist like I am, your time is precious. There's only so much time to waste on writing when you are busy building and managing your brand, tweeting and talking to cable news. So I understand.

What I don't understand, though, is why you assume that the financial burden should fall on you, rather than your professor. After all, he's the one slacking off, raking in the bucks, writing for the fancypants magazines and clicking Amazon every 5 minutes to see if his book's broken into the top 50,000. I say, order the paper and send him the bill.

You're welcome,

The Ethicator

Send your questions to the Ethicator:  info@whitecoatblackhat.com


The Ethicator: Should I Indulge My Former Prof?

Professor Blowhard

Dear Ethicator:

Big fan here; longtime reader, first time writer. I have a question about my obligations to my former PhD advisor. Now that it's been a couple of years and the ink on my diploma has dried, do I still have to keep buying and pretending to read my advisor's books?  Should I be honest and tell him that I think his work is boring?

Looking forward to your answer,

A former student of Professor Dickhead

Dear Former Student:

Your situation is truly heart-rending. You have spent countless, soul-crushing years laboring under a sadistic petty tyrant – one whose sole compensation for his own mediocrity is his power to ruin the lives of people under his supervision.   Now, years later, with all of that horror behind you, he still insists that you remain a sycophant, incessantly praising his worthless, mind-numbing academic papers at every turn – even though your own ideas are constantly showing up in his research, with no attribution.  I feel for you.

It would be unethical for you to continue indulging him – in fact, I think you are ethically obliged to destroy his career – but you should first consider getting some compensation for your suffering.  Write a letter of complaint to the university administration, preferably with some photographs included (Photoshop is very user-friendly these days, remember).  Before you send it,  show him everything and then give him the opportunity to offer compensation.

This may seem improper, but keep an eye on the big picture: You are the injured party.

Go get 'em,

The Ethicator

Send your questions to the Ethicator: info@whitecoatblackhat.com


The Ethicator – Our First Question

Chuck E Cheese

Our reader asks:

Dear Ethicator,

My drug studies are getting really expensive, mainly because I have to pay the volunteers so much. It would be a lot cheaper to test the drugs on kids. I'm pretty sure I could get them to sign up for studies in exchange for an afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese and a bag of Halloween candy. What do you think? (Also, do do you know if they have portable defibrillators at Chuck E Cheese?)

Just trying to do the right thing,

Jerry M.

The Ethicator replies:

Question: Is this for an erectile dysfunction drug? If so, I think it may be out of line to test it on kids. Otherwise, what's the harm?

Bring a defibrillator just in case. There is such a thing as being too thrifty.


The Ethicator

Sunshine bursting through black clouds

Glorious sunshine bursts through black clouds

All my fans seem to be asking me the same question:  Now that you've exposed and destroyed your brother Carl's book, when will start publishing some ideas of your own?  At what point will we get a glimpse into the mind of the angry gadfly whose ideas were stolen and distorted into White Coat Black Hat?

I thought you'd never ask. For years, I've been cultivating an expertise in bioethics, primarily through various continuing education courses and extensive emailing with famous philosophers.  Throughout my scholarly work, though, I've been frustrated by  the stale, inflexibility of it all. Seriously, I love Aristotle, but let's face it: The Nicomachean Ethics is pre-Internet thinking.

Enter the Ethicator, an advice column with a new, ground-breaking approach to bioethical questions. The title comes from my term "to ethicate", a method of moral deliberation that balances traditional moral concerns against new realities, such as the needs of a globalizing market economy and the demands of a cable news and social media-fueled 24 hour news cycle.

Please submit your questions to the Ethicator:  info@whitecoatblackhat.com.  I look forward to them.


From our readers

Thank YouReaders of this blog will know by now that I am not the type of person to blow my own horn.  Nonetheless, today I must make an exception.  Ever since I began seeking industry partnerships a couple of days ago, I've been surprised and humbled by the warm and enthusiastic praise I've received for my work combating the Carl Elliotts of the world.  Here are a few examples:

Renaldo Willoby writes:

Thank you for the post, I actually learned a lot from it. Super quality content on this blog. Always looking forward to new entry.

Another fan, iPad Cheap, says:

The best thing most this post is that, it could convince masses. Its speech is easy and conveys the theme of the article in a nigh appropriate way. The compose is not just playing with the quarrel merely he is really providing exercise total information. The substance is unique and depicts the theme identical substantially.

Our friend Golf Cart Enclosures has this to say:

Hello! I just want to state that I like your writing way and that I’m going to follow your blog continually from now Stay the best!

As if that were not enough, there is also this message from our fan Warcraft:

I dont think Ive seen all the angles of this subject the way youve pointed them out. Youre a true star, a rock star man. Youve got so much to say and know so much about the subject that I think you should just teach a class about it

My friends, I am humbled. When you start a blog like this, you're always asking yourself: Am I just a crank? Am I just some nobody, acting out petty grudges in front of the world? Or could it be that I've touched a nerve somewhere, that there are thousands, maybe millions of people out there just like me, who believe that I am onto something? Tonight, I believe I have an answer. Thank you all.


I think these would look nice on the site, don’t you?

Pharma logos

Call me!


Taking things to the next level

This Gun for Hire

This Gun for Hire

When I first got snookered into writing this blog more than six months ago, it never crossed my mind that it would turn me into a bioethics sensation. To those of you who've been visiting my blog, those of you who have not been buying Carl's book -- you are all heroes.

Still, my work here is far from done -- and as you may not know, I write this blog for nothing. Seriously, bupkis. And what chance does bupkis have against the Carl Elliotts of the world: tenured professors living high on the hog, double-fisting paychecks from the New Yorker and the Atlantic just for making hard-working people look bad?

It's time this site had corporate support. We're seeking sponsors. Who wants to step up to the plate?


It’s always about him.

Caravaggio - Narcissus


Well, now, this is really unfortunate. Nearly 24 hours have passed since I reached out to Carl Elliott, but I have not yet heard a word from him. You would think that once his younger brother achieved celebrity status in the bioethics community, some congratulations would be in order.
But no. Instead, he's phoning up media outlets, desperately trying to score interviews that will distract everyone from the website. It's a pathetic game of one-upmanship, truly. 

Check out his interview in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune.  Not one word about the website, or the success of yours truly in turning a truly horrible book into an overnight online viral success.  Not a single mention of  my attempts to reach out over the past few months. There's just stuff about him. After all, this is Carl we're talking about, and it's always about him.  Always.

What can I say. It's really sad to see a man in his late 40s still desperately chasing his younger brother's success, but I should be used to this by now. One of the sad consequences of fame is that some people just like to take potshots at you. Sometimes those people are even members of your own family. I'm just sorry you all have to watch this unfold.


Did you ever know . . .

In case you're not following such things, Carl Elliott's book is now at number 40,000 in the Amazon rankings.  On the brighter side, he's made it into the top 16 in the bioethics subgenre (a mere 5 slots below the American Nurses Association's Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statement).  Wowsers.

Meanwhile, his brother's website has become a runaway hit. More people read this blog every day than likely read Carl's book in an entire month.  Who knew?

So, Carl,  I just want to say, I could not have done this without you.  Here is a little song I found <3. No irony intended, none whatsoever.  No-siree. <3 :-)



sibling rivalryA great friend of the blog has just passed on to me an interesting article from the peer-reviewed academic journal, Homicide Studies. Titled "Siblicide and Seniority" the article studies cases of siblicide from Canada, Great Britain, Japan and Chicago and observes:

The tendency for the killer to be the younger party was especially true of cases in which victim and killer were same-sex adults and, especially, brothers close in age.

It's an interesting observation, and reminds me of my own personal research on this area. I've observed that older siblings are more inclined toward certain psychopathic tendencies, and are much more likely to engage in cultural and spiritual siblicide -- i.e., soul-crushing acts of humiliation on the younger sibling, a complete indifference to siblings' financial plight, and of course, a self-aggrandizing need to pass off others' work as one's own.

Not that this should remind you of anybody we know.

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What is going on here?

Yet another favorable review. What's up with that?

To paraphrase you-know-who: My interest is in how Carl Elliott has gone wrong, not in what there is to admire.

It has now been almost 4 months since anyone panned the book. Does anyone else smell a rat here? Why are his critics so silent all of a sudden?


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Dr. BFD at Notre Dame

How about a nice steaming cup of . . .

Whereof one cannot speak . . .

Carl Elliott is giving an Arthur Schmitt Lecture at Notre Dame this Thursday, February 17.  What about?  Oh, I don't know, maybe something like:  Drug companies are evil, capitalism is corrupting medicine, etc. etc.  If this message is so new to you that you you'd like to hear it again and again, for hours on end like some kind of godawful Castro speech, then go see it at 4 pm at McKenna Hall.


More from the Moon Colony

You have made me very angry.
Fellow moon colony resident Marcia Angell reviews White Coat, Black Hat in  Health Affairs.

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Carl Elliott is very important.

Carl Elliott did not thank the Baby Jesus
Hey, everybody. You know what's a really big deal? Getting the Erikson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media. How do I know this? Because Carl Elliott told me so.

It's huge, really huge. Almost like getting a Nobel or a Pulitzer, really -- maybe even better! That, of course, is why it was perfectly appropriate for him to phone his brother in the middle of the Super Bowl, just after the kids had gone to bed, and expect to see the news posted all over the web right away. Nothing wrong with that, no sir. Perfectly understandable -- especially seeing as Carl Elliott is a bigshot celebrity author, who as we all know, wrote every single goddamn word of that "acclaimed bestseller" book without a single bit of help from said brother. Nope, not a single bit of help, according to the index of the book.

Whatever. Carl Elliott won the Erikson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Medicine. There, I said it. Now he can put it on his CV so people think he's important.


Cain and Abel

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Can we make it a quiet week in Lake Wobegon? Please?

A typical audience

. . . where all the women are strong, the men are good-looking and the professors absolutely never shut the fuck up.

Carl Elliott will be reading at Garrison Keillor's bookstore, Common Good Books, this Tuesday, January 18 at 7:30 pm. He thinks I should tell people.

Fine.  The place is at 165 Western Avenue in St. Paul.  The thing should go on for several hours, and will include all the familiar harangues against greedy pharmaceutical companies, drug reps, doctors and other people who work for a living. No breaks for songs or Powdermilk biscuits, just a long, steady drone of complaints. If this is your idea of fun, go ahead.


Things you can buy for the cost of Carl’s book (part 11)

Creepy as fuck

Blippy in a box

Terrify your enemies and their children with this creepy jack-in-the-box.   Seriously.


Things you can buy for the cost of Carl’s book (part 10)

Yodeling Lederhosen with sausage remote

Grab that sausage and make the pants sing!

Remote-controlled, yodeling lederhosen!  Just squeeze that fat, orange sausage, and a pair of disembodied pants will dance a jig and sing a merry Alpine tune.

A challenge:  Take one of these to your next bioethics conference, along with a copy of White Coat, Black Hat, and see which is a bigger hit.  I think we both know the answer.


Merry Christmas, Part 2

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Merry Christmas from Carl and His Friends

Merry Christmas. Fucker.

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