Whether or not you have a secret or secret sauce, who is to decide when – if ever – you reveal it?
Releasing confidential information revealing truth can have great value – or cause great pain.
What is truth anyway?
I read something which speaks to this– drug company long suppressing research information on into a drug which might better treat Alzheimer’s Disease. Reported by reputable newspaper so that gives some endorsement of truth. Full story rings familiar – partly about plausible deniability, partly hard-nosed business. And, so the narrative might continue, ‘if they are suppressing that, what else are the suppressing?’. Long standing rumours of oil companies buying patents for automobile innovations which improve gas mileage only to suppress them … these are somewhere between urban myths and solid fact, but how do we know?
In Trumpland we’ve learned about buying ‘catch and kill’stories, non-disclosure agreements (NDA’s)and settlements to keep truth from outing. Some say this is ‘government as usual’ or‘business as usual’.
For instance, if a drug company keeps a breakthrough treatment secret so it can gain financial advantage to make it stronger and more capable of delivering miracle cures one could argue it is valuable. Those who are dying from a disease and their family might have a stronger opposing view.
I started writing this piece about Alzheimer’s Disease – and then it became about truth, about media, about rights and about business. Now it’s about all of those and I’m not sure which came first – I don’t remember …
Seriously, which is the superior right (or privilege?), to know or to remember? I’m not outraged by actions of Pfizer or the Washington Post or the scientific community or by legal advice they are all undoubtedly getting, about the risks and danger of saying too much too soon without solid justification. It seems, sadly, like early days of other scourges where everyone cried out for a solution but drug companies and governments dragged their feet.
In this post-truth world where information, good or bad, move faster than winds of change we should reflect on a gentler (perhaps wiser) time went Banting and Best gave insulin to the world and Salk gave a polio vaccine to the world – they didn’t do it for profit, they did it for mankind. We are all better off because horrible diseases were conquered. I realize for every story like this one there are likely a hundred more cases of drug companies and governments ally saying ‘the right things’, defensible things, arguing the costs of chasing something not yet proven are too high – and when they say that they are with a stroke of their pen impacting millions of people who need a cure. It makes one wonder how many drugs which might cure cancer are stuck in a similar developmental pipeline. Gordon Gecko, a fictional character, was speaking for Wall Street and capitalism when he said “greed is good”. Yes, that is a fiction. Completely.
Next new thing, valid until replaced by newer better thing – in our instant-know world, at what point do collective needs and values merge? Who gets the cure? Who gets to know, who gets to know first, and is that about control/power/greed or about democracy/equity/need?
Whoa! Speechless...almost. There is so much to think about in what you share here Mark. Inability to balance competing values--that makes so much sense. Is that the forest? If so, how on earth could we possibly bring trees into alignment??, GB, Waukesha, WI … p.s. … As you said in your initial letter, nature kept the complex balance simple before humans started messing with everything--such meddlers--thinking we know best. I appreciate that you drew attention to the fact that we never know where our meddling is going to lead--could be good, or bad. I also appreciate the notion that quibbling over politics, plastic straws, and dandelions might have us missing the entire point. It is frightening to think that we might be speeding along to our own demise as a species. I'm currently reading a work of fiction--Where'd You Go Bernadette? In the story, a fictional Microsoft employee has discovered the art? skill? of moving objects with the mind. I wonder if we're not too far off from that...and where the future is leading us. More competing values? It seems nature is giving me a front row seat to all of its splendor this year. A flicker just landed outside my window, but flew off before I could take his picture. I'll keep writing for the creatures. We'll see if it helps. :)
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