Saturday, February 02, 2008

One Step in Healthcare Renewal is Academic Renewal

In this post about Duke's decent into intellectual anarchy, I made the observation that academics have significant influence on their students, and the influence affects those students when those students become our industry's and nation's leaders.

I have been reading the various debates about the actions Duke's "Group of 88" professors, who tried to take advantage of the anger created via fabricated accusations by a dancer that the Duke lacrosse team members assaulted and raped her.

One observation was striking. The "Group of 88" refer to their writings in a most peculiar way.

They called their rush-to-judgment support of campus demonstrators who had widely distributed a “wanted poster" branding the team as “rapists” the "Listening Statement." (As a former practicing occupational medicine physician, I can vouch for the degree of emotional suffering and damage the "Listening Statement" likely caused these lacrosse team students.) A later release was called the "Clarifying Statement."

One wonders why they didn't use the simpler title "Our Views on the Recent Unpleasantness" or something more apppriate to scholars? Why the faux avant-garde terminology "Listening Statement" and "Clarifying Statement?"

I am surprised they didn't add the term "Communique" to the names they did use. It occurs that such language is just the terminology that would be used by a group of self-important, pompous, wannabe-revolutionary fools who might dream of sending out "Popular Liberation Front Statements" on a clandestine Soviet crank-powered shortwave transmitter with a wire aerial strung across the jungle treetops.

This rush-to-judgement, hang-them-then-hold-a-trial attitude seems not just accepted at universities like Duke, but defended and applauded. No "Apology Statement" was ever issued, even after the students were found innocent and the prosecutor jailed. What message are the students taking away? Perhaps the message that being a pompous fool is a virtue?

Now, think about all the observations in Healthcare Renewal about corruption, conflicts of interest, etc. in the healthcare industry committed by healthcare professionals and executives. I argue that one root cause of these phenomena are the beliefs of the people behind the actions. Pompous jacka** is probably a reasonable characterization of many. Are their attitudes affected by a debased educational environment? I think that is likely.

I again state my premise: one step in healthcare renewal is academic renewal.

Finally, regarding Duke, if I were those Group of 88 faculty, I might want to transfer my assets to a trusted third party ASAP. Considering the swath of lawsuits coming down the pike, and a likely class action to follow the current civil suit initiated by a few members of the team, I might want my assets squirreled away.

I did try to contact Duke's Office of General Counsel about the mischaracterization of my writings put into print by Miriam Cooke as described in the post about Duke linked above. However, the response I received indicated they have bigger fish to fry and that my complaint was moot considering changes that will likely be coming down the pike there, after the inevitable leadership shakeup.

Maybe the Group of 88 will release an "Impoverishing Statement" when the dust settles.

-- SS


Orac said...

"Group of 88"? Geez, these guys are dumb. Don't they know that "88" is frequently used as an identifier for white supremacists? A worse possible connotation behind a name is hard to imagine in a racially-charged case like this. Are we sure they weren't associated in some way with Stormfront?

MedInformaticsMD said...

As I said, avant-garde quasi-revolutionary wannabes.