Tag Archives: scientism

Why give a f*** about passing on your genes?

That’s what I kept thinking both times I saw this conversation.

It’s what I think pretty much any time “evolution” gets invoked in the context of asexuality.

I don’t get the expectation that people should want to be “useful to evolution” (the kind of language people use to talk about obeying the will of a deity).

I don’t get the moralistic personification of evolution as a gardener “weeding out” the badwrong undesirables, who judges your worth and makes you feel guilty for existing.

I don’t get the hand-wringing over “continuing the species,” like I’m supposed to care if humans stop being born one day, like I’m supposed to be personally invested in some abstract notion of Humanity Forever, like I should be sad if we got extinct in some distant future that I’ll never see.

I don’t get the notion that I should care about “passing on my genes,” as if they should have some sort of inherent value to me that extends beyond my own corporeal existence, as if I should be emotionally invested in arbitrary molecular structures the way I am in whole people and ideas and lives.

I just don’t… care?

Why are people expecting me to care?

Who is it who’s out there teaching people to care?


Peridot’s reverence

(spoilers for “It Could Have Been Great” and “Message Received”)

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Corruption in the Holy Places

[ cw for suicide and medical abuse ]

No one really knows how much of the medical literature is ghostwritten, but a hint emerged in a 2003 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry (BJP).  A lawsuit brought against Pfizer in 1999 had turned up documents produced by a medical communications company called Current Medical Directions, which was responsible for a publication strategy for Pfizer’s antidepressant Zoloft.  These documents listed all the Zoloft studies that Current Medical Directions was preparing for publication in 1999. The authors of the BJP article, David Healy and Dinah Cattel, decided to track down the articles on Zoloft that Current Medical Directions had been working on in 1999 and see what had happened to them.  They picked three years (1998, 1999, and 2000) and searched the medical literature for articles published on Zoloft during that time.  They found that the agency-prepared articles outnumbered the articles written in the traditional way, were published in more prestigious journals, and had citation rates over five times that of traditionally authored articles.  The ghosted articles also painted a much happier profile of Zoloft than did the traditionally authored articles.  For example, the articles prepared by Current Medical Directions on pediatric psychopharmacology failed to mention five of the six children taking Zoloft who took action toward committing suicide.

Metzl, Jonathan M., and Anna Kirkland, eds. Against health: How health became the new morality. NYU Press, 2010. (p. 99-100)

In layman’s terms: companies are commissioning ghostwritten articles about their drugs and getting them published in medical journals.  Or in other words, they’re advertising in places where there’s not supposed to be advertising, specifically in order to deceive people about the content’s origins.

While I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater, I worry that people are too quick to forget about things like this when they associate cultural prestige with credibility.


Defining Religion

For reasons established in my previous post which got unexpectedly long, this post will set out to explain the definition of religion that makes the most sense to me.  This is one way of conceiving of it, not what religion “is” in a hard-and-fast sense, because I don’t think a loose cultural category such as religion can have some true abstract essential nature in any way independent from our own perceptions.  And please don’t come talking to me about “faith”; I’ve already dissected the concept of faith.

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