The Heat Of Medical Politics

The Heat Of Medical Politics

By John Herd

Author’s note: Having worked in an allied medical research career working with researchers, clinicians and hospital administrators I’ve seen a great deal of medical politics at play. It is from those observations garnered by those experience that I write the following. It is from the perspective of being a CFS patient that I wish to see any and all sound research move forward, possibly to lead to better medical treatments. And it is from just being a caring human being that I am saddened by amount of malicious medical politics we see in the CFS medical arena.

The fires [heat] of medical research politics are often stoked by competition for potential economic revenues, thirst for professional recognition, secondary politics and economics, print space in medical journals, and occasionally a heavy dose of unbridled professional ego.

Competition can be constructive and necessary, as it can be an important driving force in moving science forward.

When the medical competition becomes corrupted with tainted information and bias, some embrace the notion that an Alan Greenspan hands off approach of institutional self-regulation will bring about the truth in the end, that science will prove science.

That’s not always the case.

Sometimes corrupted competition hinders the advancement of research and in turn scientific understanding.

Another ugly side of such competition is that it sometimes metastasizes into not just attacks upon the central science at hand, but very personalized attacks upon the professional caliber and even personal character of people involved.

When such tactics are unjustly employed it can tragically be a career ender and scientific advancement stopper.

Economic and organizational resources to push the science forward, to validating the science, will sometimes also vindicate the scientist who has been wrongly attacked.

In the meantime though, it takes immensely strong inner character to endure the heat of such public character assassination.

During such times when the attacks feel all too personal, it’s important to separate the ugly stuff happening in the professional arena from the scientist’s private personal world. It’s important to to realize the attacks may be more a reflection upon whence they come.

In terms of what we are seeing in the contentious politics about XMRV and the Whittemore Peterson Institute’s research, and however the science and politics resolves itself, I believe we [the patient sector] need to get one resounding message out.

Judy Mikovits and Annette Whittemore care deeply about patients and patients’ well-being. They are caring and well intentioned people who deserves our support and recognition for their attempts to help us.

That may not be enough to offset the emotional anguish induced by all the heat in scientific arena, but I hope it helps them get through it, to get beyond it.

© John Herd, 2011

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