When politicians practice medicine misery and death follow

Posted by on Sep 29, 2012 in Politics, Social Issues | 0 comments


Today we get to mix medicine and politics. Since conservatives who have no medical training and are utterly, horrifically ignorant about how human physiology works are happy to tell doctors how, when and for what conditions they may treat women  it seems appropriate.   I wanted to take a look, not at the lies told about how women can prevent pregnancy in the case of “legitimate” rape or other such vile poppycock but rather at the illustrious, or should I say shameful history of these kinds of willfully ignorant policies and their affect upon the population of the United States.

First we can take a look at Lyme Disease which the Romney campaign has decided can be used to generate votes in Virginia.


Why is he doing this?  Well it looks like a move to protect doctors from malpractice lawsuits.  This is the same kind of thing the GOP is looking to protect doctors who lie to women about the status of their pregnancy from.  It’s hideous and if it succeeds here it’s a gateway to protecting doctors who decide what kind of treatment to give someone based upon personal beliefs.  It might be tempting to think that is ok so long as they’re only denying pregnant women life-saving treatment , or say denying gays life-saving drugs or treatments but what about a racist doctor?  What about a 7th day Adventist who believes that blood transfusions are evil?

This is even more insidious though because it plays on ignorance.  Americans want a magic pill for everything and the abuse of antibiotics is already leading to drug resistant strains of diseases that were once easily treatable.  So not only is the treatment in the article damaging to the people undergoing it, it is damaging to society as a whole because it leads to more drug resistant strains of diseases.


The ignorant dismissal of facts that lead to these kinds of horrors is not new.  The south, especially Mississippi in the past, and North Carolina today have a track record of denying science at the cost of thousands of lives.  Just recently in North Carolina the legislature there decided to make it a law that the sea level could not rise any more.   Would that I were joking: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/03/us-usa-northcarolina-idUSBRE86217I20120703

“Backed by real estate developers, the Republican-led General Assembly passed a law requiring that projected rates of sea level rise be calculated on historical trends and not include accelerated rates of increase.”

Like that’s going to change what’s about to happen on their coast.  What’s going to happen is all of the speculators who bought coastal land to develop are going to sell houses to people who are ill informed and make their money leaving home owners left holding the bag when their houses are swept out to sea.

I mentioned Mississippi.  In the early 1900’s a disease called Pellegra was killing people in the south so a doctor named Joseph Goldberg was dispatched to find out what was going on and hopefully find a cure.  He determined it was a dietary disease of some kind which flew in the face of the accepted theory that it was a germ.  To prove his thesis Dr. Goldberg ran an experiment that turned out exactly as he expected.  Despite the evidence the officials refused to believe him.  Their refusal to accept experimental data lead to thousands more preventable deaths, much to Dr Goldberg’s frustration.  Eventually it was discovered that the disease was caused by a lack of Niacin which is one of the B vitamins.



“In 1915, he conducted experiments on inmates at a Mississippi prison, who volunteered for the study in exchange for a pardon. Because it was a farm prison, its inmates had a fairly balanced diet. Goldberger’s volunteers were given the poor Southern diet he had seen associated with pellagra. That was the only difference. The other inmates ate the usual farm fare. Every effort was made to prevent and rule out infectious transmission. And within months, the volunteers came down with pellagra. Then the researchers tried to catch the disease from those already suffering — they couldn’t. The pellagra symptoms disappeared when the volunteers were given meat, fresh vegetables, and milk.

Despite this conclusive evidence, Goldberger had trouble convincing others what he had found. He spent the rest of his life looking for what exactly was missing in the diet that caused pellagra, but this would not be uncovered until after his death. He also was thwarted by the medical world’s obsession with infectious disease, newly understood and in some cases treatable, and the political world’s resistance to hearing that poor social conditions could cause disease.”


“Goldberger’s conclusions were correct but unpopular in the South because of their negative implications for the Southern way of life.”


Ignorance costs lives.  Willful ignorance is vile.  Hatred costs lives.  These articles, this evidence, demonstrates that we can draw a line of misery and death from the past to the present through political ideology, ignorance and science denial.  This is important because this is what conservatism is bringing to the table for the future of our nation.  This is what we can expect going forward if we do not face the truth and vote according to facts rather than fictions.

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