Or, as what was then left of the Byrds once sang:
Do you think it’s really the truth that you see?
I’ve got my doubts it’s happened to me.
First, let me regale you with a little anecdote involving Science (aka The Truth as Man Sees It….For Now).
I’ve known exactly one person who has worked in a Test Lab. Happens I know the person very well but I’ll keep names out of this for reasons of propriety and me not wanting to ask her permission. She’s pretty damn busy these days.
Happens also that the lab she worked in was a Medical Research Lab at one of the world’s elite universities. How elite? Well, she didn’t graduate from there. She graduated from another university in the same state that had enrollment classes of about three hundred and advertised one hundred percent graduation rates in their promotional literature. So it was “elite” enough that, if they let you in, they knew you weren’t going to quit or flunk out (if you died, it didn’t count), but it still wasn’t as elite as the university where she did her year as a Lab Tech.
She graduated from her university with honors and a double major in Chemistry and Biochemistry.
For those who don’t know here’s the Biochemical Society’s definition of Biochemistry:
The branch of science that explores the chemical processes within and related to living organisms. It is a laboratory based science that brings together biology and chemistry. By using chemical knowledge and techniques biochemists can understand and solve biological problems.
Among the biological problems a biochemist might be expected to solve are those relating to human beings. Like, for instance, their health.
Like for instance, how human chemistry affects human biology.
You might think that.
Pretty sure the person I’m referring to here thought it, too.
Then she went to work in a Medical Research Lab, where she was handed a product to test in whatever the usual ways such products are tested by the Hanging Out While I Try to Get Into Medical School Lab Techs (she got in the next year).
This particular product had been sent along by a major pharmaceutical company based in a Large Midwestern City (Hint: They have a lot of political corruption and gangland style killings there….in 1925 and now). It had been approved by their scientific team. It had been approved by all the other Lab Techs who tested it at the Elite University Research Lab where she worked.
She ran a series of routine tests.
Then she took it to her boss.
“It won’t work in humans,” she said.
Her boss became a touch flustered. He asked to see her research. She showed it to him.
He wasn’t too sure of her conclusions.
He asked if she would be willing to fly with him to the Large Midwestern City and make her argument in front of the pharmaceutical company’s board?
She said sure.
Only it wouldn’t be an argument. Just her proof.
Arrangements were made.
You know how this ends.
She went. She presented her proof–in front of the board….and the assembled scientists who had approved the product for development in the first place.
They said “We’ll get back to you.”
In a couple of weeks they got back to her boss.
They said they would be putting the product back into development and would let the Lab know when they had worked out the problem.
Her boss asked her:
“How did you know?”
He was interested, since none of the company’s scientists had spotted the problem…and neither had anyone in his own Lab.
So what he meant was: How did you know there was a problem when no one else did?
“Well,” she said. “I’m a biochemist.”
Which it turned out none of the pharmaceutical company’s scientists were. And neither was anyone else in the elite university’s Medical Research Lab.
Who needs biochemists after all? Just because the medicine in question was designed to be used in humans?
Don’t be silly.
Being young, she was a little surprised to discover this.
Being older–and, by the time I heard this story, having lost twenty percent of my vision to a medical profession devoted to standing behind the findings of every Big Pharmaceutical Company and Elite University lab’s “chemists,” right up to the day the Medicine in question becomes the target of the latest class action lawsuit (a day which, alas, will never come for me because the hard truth about the medicine I outed to half a dozen disinterested/frightened doctors would collapse a multi-zillion dollar piece of the Health Care Industry…and about here I should mention that what they did to me was a tiny fraction of what they did to another member of my family who is now beyond all hope of satisfaction in this life)–I was not surprised.
And, reading this little piece today, I remain not surprised.
And not hopeful.
Let’s just say that any profession which reproaches itself thusly…
“Nearly half a century after the first concerns about misidentified cell lines, the initiatives to improve authentication need to be complemented by attention to the already contaminated literature….Our analysis shows that the task is sizeable and urgent.”
…will never muster the righteous anger required to heal itself.
They’ll clean up their act the day Hollywood producers stop dangling juicy roles in front of starlets and shouting First one to her knees wins!
So here’s to Science…and never giving a sucker an even break:
…Don’t worry, though. I still take my blood pressure medicine. It has this advantage: It hasn’t yet revealed the manner in which it’s killing me. I’ve seen one of those who was born to take me, you see. But, until the other comes along, I’ll go down with the rest of the suckers.
Could just be, I’m a Good American after all!