End Government Funding of Science?

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby addams » Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:07 am UTC

elasto wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:ok off topic but, why can't we just evolve better antibiotics at same rate (of faster) as bacteria evolves? Is it that superbugs you grow in a lab to use to strengthen your antibiotics aren't the same as superbugs that are out in the wild? So if your lab superbug becomes resistant by adaption 'A' your superantibiotic will evolve to defeat adaption 'A' but superbugs in nature might develop adaption 'B'.

Why can't we stay ahead of the superbugs?

It's easy to kill bugs. It's easy to kill superbugs. What's hard is killing bugs and superbugs without also hurting you...

There's very very few things that are lethal to bacteria that aren't also harmful to us. And every time a bug develops resistance there's one fewer way to safely kill it.

Obligatory xkcd link: http://xkcd.com/1217/

---

leady: I'm out in China and, contrary to popular opinion, in many ways its the libertarian wet-dream many on boards like this speak of. You could walk into any pharmacy out here and buy ridiculously strong antibiotics over the counter. Unfortunately it doesn't work out in practice as well as one would hope.

Ok, so there's very little government regulation on antibiotic use. Add in that hospitals here compete for customers. Add in to the mix the natural human response to being sick or your child being sick that you want to take no chances, and everything pushes towards rampant overprescribing of strong antibiotics. Whereas back in the UK my doctor would tell me 'don't worry, your kid will get over it in a few days all by itself', in China my child gets a course of IV antibiotics even for a viral infection.

And my protests don't have any impact on my wife: Her reasoning will go: "The medicine won't do any harm to your child, and perhaps it might help, so why not give it? Don't you care about giving your child the best possible chance of getting well?" Likewise, the doctor privately uses similar reasoning: "If I send the mother away without giving any antibiotics, she'll think I don't care about her child, and will go to another hospital next time, and my boss will complain about falling numbers. So I should just shut up and give the drugs."

It's actually even worse than that, because if the doctor sends the mother away without a prescription, the hospital makes very little money. If he prescribes an IV drip, the mother is much more reassured plus the hospital makes a load of money. It's 'win-win' (except of course it's not).

With this self-reinforcing feedback loop (mothers think antibiotics should be given because all doctors prescribe them for everything, and all doctors prescribe them for everything because mothers expect them to be given) it takes outside intervention to break the cycle. Government intervention. Rampant, unrestrained free markets are not capable of thinking long term, or big picture. Governments needs to take the best scientific advice and then issue strict guidelines to hospitals for the long-term good of everyone, because when antibiotics are gone, they're gone.

That is so interesting.
From behind the Bamboo curtain?

That is what is happening there?
So, interesting. A Loop!

Yes. I agree with you.
The government must step in.
Maybe.

I know nothing about what could possibly be going on, there.
The human body is the same. Mothers love their children the same.

Is there a problem with antibiotic resistant bacteria?
In the US there is a problem with MRSA.

The obvious cases I have seen have dropped in number.
There are good reasons for me Not to see this ugly little bastard doing its dirty work.

I have seen it.
I have spoken to people that have it and can not get medical treatment.
That is a bad thing. It takes up to six months to clear that bug from the system.

I have read about TB making a come back tour. ickkk.
That is another one that takes a Looonng time to beat.

I know nothing about China. Is it pretty, there?
China was behind the Bamboo Curtain, when I came from.
A land shrouded in mist. Far, far away. China.

It is right outside your door. How weird is that?
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby leady » Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:50 pm UTC

cheers for the China update - its exactly as a I suspected i.e. theres a free for all in about 80% of the worlds population across China and India so its hardly worth strictly controlling my 2% :)

Hell spain and greece sell them openly too so its hardly a eastern phenomenum

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:53 pm UTC

leady wrote:cheers for the China update - its exactly as a I suspected i.e. theres a free for all in about 80% of the worlds population across China and India so its hardly worth strictly controlling my 2% :)
Did you actually read any of Angua's links? At least one of them states that there is evidence that this policy is working in the countries who adopt it.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Aug 15, 2013 5:53 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:ok off topic but, why can't we just evolve better antibiotics at same rate (of faster) as bacteria evolves? Is it that superbugs you grow in a lab to use to strengthen your antibiotics aren't the same as superbugs that are out in the wild? So if your lab superbug becomes resistant by adaption 'A' your superantibiotic will evolve to defeat adaption 'A' but superbugs in nature might develop adaption 'B'.

Why can't we stay ahead of the superbugs?


You can, depending on certain parameters(ie, how much money you pour into developing new antibiotics and how rapidly superbugs are evolving). However, developing brand new antibiotics is not fast or cheap. You would need a very, very large pipeline to compensate for a policy of completely uncontrolled antibiotic use. In practice, this would make antibiotics very expensive(if indeed humanity has enough resources to do this).

Which, in the end, is also an inconvenience. Almost certainly a vastly larger inconvenience than having to get a prescription.

There's also the strong likelihood that there really is only a fairly small, finite set of possible antibiotics without particularly harmful to human side effects...which further adds costs to such a policy.

I should note that I *am* a libertarian, but do not consider things like "uncontrolled antibiotic use" to be something that is important to libertarian ideology. The harm to others is obvious and overt. Libertarianism doesn't recognize a freedom to harm others.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby addams » Thu Aug 15, 2013 6:48 pm UTC

Angua wrote:I've got evidence on my side that tighter regulations of how and why antibiotics are used helps prevent resistance. Of course, you have to remember that a lot of these weren't developed until after resistance started becoming a problem, so it's not surprising that we still have superbugs around.

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=394628

http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1164/ajrccm.156.4.9701046

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1113826/

By the way, the TB 'vaccine' isn't all that effective at preventing TB (though it's good for preventing cerebral TB in children).

Those seem to be some darned good links.
What is the take away?

I would have to sit down and read every word.
That is, kind of, dense reading.

It is nice to know someone is keeping up with how we treat one another.
Quarantines were horrible. Such fear. Such bravery. Such love.

Stories of each are our legacy.
Now we have SuperBugs!
The Anti-Hero!
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Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Arariel » Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:24 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Cigarettes and health-coverage are not actually competing goods. See the conversation re: Zamfir/Heisenberg (cigarettes actually may potentially reduce health costs!). Even barring that (presume they did increase health costs), they're still not competing goods; your explanation here is just a wishy-washy economics 101 handwave.

Doesn't matter. Paying off the insurance companies requires collusion; collusion leaves room for a Prisoner's Dilemma. The Nash Equilibrium is for all parties to defect, and therefore they don't get bribed.

But here's an interesting thought experiment: Presuming cigarettes do reduce health care costs (by killing sick people faster), what incentive does anyone have to research the detrimental effects of tobacco smoke? Cigarette companies are happy because you're buying smokes; insurance companies are happy because when you get sick, you die quicker (instead of clinging on and costing them money with end-of-life care).

Any higher costs incurred by someone living longer is either caused by a) government regulations prohibiting price discrimination based on age or b) faulty actuarial tables, both of which are eliminated in a free market. So, given two people, one of whom smokes and therefore is expected to die x years early from lung cancer, the smoker costs additional up to the point where they die, and in a truly free market the insurance company could continue profiting off the non-smoker as they age, provided they start charging them higher premiums.

Tell me: Who else besides the government would bother to research this? Presuming we relied on market solutions, what compelling reason would anyone have had to discover that cigarette smoking is bad for you?

Haven't I gone over this already?

That's not how economics work. Price-hiking does not make consumers more aware; it just makes things more costly for consumers.

Note the difference between 'feel' and 'understand'. If you raise my cost of living, I certainly feel it -- but I don't necessarily understand it.

As smoking is not a Giffen good and in most cases not a Veblen good, the higher the price, the lower the quantity demanded. Problem solved. You can point out demand is inelastic, but that's short-run. Long-run demand for all goods is more elastic.

That's not how actuarial statistics work. Do you know what an actuary table is? You don't need to research the reason why something has an impact; you just need to know the degree of impact it has.

Actuarial tables for health insurance company would have data drawing a link between smoking and lung cancer. It benefits a company to determine whether it's causal or if there's a hidden third variable since discriminating on a hidden third variable instead of smoking would yield higher profits. Causal and correlative links provided in this way will be pounced upon by advocacy groups and other do-gooders (and even if no one bothers establishing a causal link, I doubt that will deter them in any way).

Angua wrote:Not sure what barrier you're talking about here, patent law? Are you saying that private medical funding is being hindered by patents in general, our just trying to blame the government because in this case where making another version of their drug wasn't profitable enough that the government should disregard the patent and let someone else steal their product (while I think that patents on medicines probably last too long in done cases, I acknowledge they are useful in offsetting the costs of drug development)

Just end patent law, then. Governmental barriers to entry in a market do little but discourage competition; that's why the pharmaceutical industry is close to an oligopoly (if not one already), same for banks, and it seems like agriculture is slipping the same way.

People are researching treatments to ebola (the main setbacks are the fact that it's hard to carry out trials on something that's so rare, and too lethal to infect volunteers with). They are doing so with public funds (mainly military if I'm not mistaken)

I'm not saying that everything needs to be publicly funded, and that there is no place for the private sector. I'm saying that you can't rely solely on the private sector because you don't get research into things that aren't profitable. Sleeping sickness kills thousands of people every year, and we've only got one new drug in the past 50 odd years for it.

We should research treatments for diseases because saves lives. How many people need to be affected by a disease before you decide it's worth it? If it affects 1 000 000 000 poor people who wouldn't be able to pay for treatment, would you go for a disease that only affects 10 billionaires.

But see, even sleeping sickness only affects some number of thousands of people every year. Undoubtedly tragic, but it pales in comparison with people who die from malnutrition, which numbers in the millions. But many of those who can't afford the food still get aid, much of it voluntary charity. Regarding malaria, there's also much charity for that, too. The prominent, widespread diseases get the most money, and that's not a bad thing. If all health research became privatised and some disease started killing off millions, do you really think the same people who made donations for malaria and malnutrition would stand by and do nothing?
As for diseases that only affect 10 billionaires, I'm afraid those probably don't exist (maybe some long-term health effects of cocaine?).

Kit. wrote:Any property barrier is created by some form of government. No government => no property.

But I digress.

Absolutely untrue. Property's primary trait is its excludability, meaning I can prevent someone from using it. You can exclude someone from land, a house, a car, etc.; build a fence, buy a gun, hire security, etc., all without government.

Arariel wrote:If people's desires are fulfilled with less consumption, they'll consume less. So maximal utility can be achieved by increasing the amount and variety of goods able to be consumed, and in a system where all purchases are voluntary, the increased consumption reflects increased utility and thus standard of life.

Not that fast. First, you would need to prove the existence of the object you are speaking of: the real-world utility function, i.e. a transitive and complete measure of real-world desires.

Then there will be something to discuss here. But not before.

Actually, I only need to assume revealed preference: Given two bundles affordable at a given income, if one bundle is purchased, that bundle is preferred over the other. For the negation to be true (that the other bundle is preferred over the first bundle and yet the consumer purchases the first bundle), the consumer would have to be incredibly irrational, so it's a pretty good assumption; if they could be happier by buying less, why don't they buy less?

Consuming the junk consumables makes them happier... for a while. That's if we disregard the advertising of the matching medical services, which is intended to make them unhappier with the result of such consumption.

Does it make them happier compared to people from a macroeconomy without such increase? Not necessarily. What if those junk consumables are:
Spoiler:
Nicotine
Spoiler:
Heroin
Spoiler:
Home-made desomorphine

Someone who's very preoccupied with only present pleasures simply has a high interest/discount rate for expected future utility. For instance, if I can spend $100 now or $200 a year from now and I will not settle for an interest rate less than 200 per cent per annum, I would spend $100 now. Similarly, a person who chooses to ingest health-threatening substances sees present benefits as outweighing expected future returns adjusted for the discount rate.

Arariel wrote:In a voluntary transaction, both producer and consumer are made better off.

As a general rule? Only if they are omniscient and acting for their own benefit. But then it becomes a tautology.

Assuming no fraud and allowing for long-term corrections.

For the money to enter anything, it needs to exist in the first place. Currently, the money is printed by the Feds to prevent deflation when the amount of supply on the market grows in the "natural units", as deflation is believed to be harmful for the economy. If the medical service sales are not growing, the money to cover them is not printed, and is not going under a mattress, into a speculative bubble or straight onto the consumer market causing inflation.

How adorable. I suppose next you'll tell me hiring a brigade of children to throw bricks at windows will increase long-run production.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Angua » Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:40 am UTC

Arariel wrote:Just end patent law, then. Governmental barriers to entry in a market do little but discourage competition; that's why the pharmaceutical industry is close to an oligopoly (if not one already), same for banks, and it seems like agriculture is slipping the same way.

Do you have any idea how much money goes into creating and licensing a new drug? Smaller companies can go under overnight if they have poor results with a trial.

People are researching treatments to ebola (the main setbacks are the fact that it's hard to carry out trials on something that's so rare, and too lethal to infect volunteers with). They are doing so with public funds (mainly military if I'm not mistaken)

I'm not saying that everything needs to be publicly funded, and that there is no place for the private sector. I'm saying that you can't rely solely on the private sector because you don't get research into things that aren't profitable. Sleeping sickness kills thousands of people every year, and we've only got one new drug in the past 50 odd years for it.

We should research treatments for diseases because saves lives. How many people need to be affected by a disease before you decide it's worth it? If it affects 1 000 000 000 poor people who wouldn't be able to pay for treatment, would you go for a disease that only affects 10 billionaires.

But see, even sleeping sickness only affects some number of thousands of people every year. Undoubtedly tragic, but it pales in comparison with people who die from malnutrition, which numbers in the millions. But many of those who can't afford the food still get aid, much of it voluntary charity. Regarding malaria, there's also much charity for that, too. The prominent, widespread diseases get the most money, and that's not a bad thing. If all health research became privatised and some disease started killing off millions, do you really think the same people who made donations for malaria and malnutrition would stand by and do nothing?
As for diseases that only affect 10 billionaires, I'm afraid those probably don't exist (maybe some long-term health effects of cocaine?).

Donations aren't really enough for this sort of research, unless they are massive - see again the comment on how much this process actually costs. It also takes a really, really, long time. Which is why you need people out there researching low prevalence things in case they start popping up as a pandemic.

Also, you didn't answer the question on whether you would only research diseases for people who can pay for it, no matter how few people were affected. You could have inbred billionaires having children with a rare genetic disease for example.

However, I'm going to stop posting in response to you on the subject, because we're really not getting anywhere. It's obvious that you see the world through money-coloured glasses and don't actually care about other people.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Sun Aug 18, 2013 11:40 am UTC

Arariel wrote:Any higher costs incurred by someone living longer is either caused by a) government regulations prohibiting price discrimination based on age or b) faulty actuarial tables, both of which are eliminated in a free market.
As a rule, I try not to argue with people's religious values. So -- good luck.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Tyndmyr » Sun Aug 18, 2013 3:09 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Arariel wrote:Any higher costs incurred by someone living longer is either caused by a) government regulations prohibiting price discrimination based on age or b) faulty actuarial tables, both of which are eliminated in a free market.
As a rule, I try not to argue with people's religious values. So -- good luck.


I think he's saying costs, but means externalized costs, which is something much more specific.

In straight costs, yes, end of life care is obviously more expensive than average throughout someone's life.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Arariel » Sun Aug 18, 2013 8:47 pm UTC

Angua wrote:Do you have any idea how much money goes into creating and licensing a new drug? Smaller companies can go under overnight if they have poor results with a trial.

Costs of creating a new drug have absolutely nothing to do with patent law. Licensing them is more government regulation, a government-created barrier to entry.

Donations aren't really enough for this sort of research, unless they are massive - see again the comment on how much this process actually costs. It also takes a really, really, long time. Which is why you need people out there researching low prevalence things in case they start popping up as a pandemic.

I'm not a big fan of Bill Gates, but his foundation has endowments in the billions, so yes, there is enough money for charity. With about half the national income tied up in government spending, there would also be more money for charity if nonessential spending were left to the private sector.

Also, you didn't answer the question on whether you would only research diseases for people who can pay for it, no matter how few people were affected. You could have inbred billionaires having children with a rare genetic disease for example.

You didn't ask that question. But to answer that, of course I would assist in research in disease for people who couldn't afford treatment; but not through violent means. The ends do not justify the means.

However, I'm going to stop posting in response to you on the subject, because we're really not getting anywhere. It's obvious that you see the world through money-coloured glasses and don't actually care about other people.

Apparently using violence and/or threats of through proxy to extract money from individuals to pay someone to maybe come up with something to help people in a distant land is less selfish than wanting people to be charitable on their own.

Tyndmyr wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:
Arariel wrote:Any higher costs incurred by someone living longer is either caused by a) government regulations prohibiting price discrimination based on age or b) faulty actuarial tables, both of which are eliminated in a free market.
As a rule, I try not to argue with people's religious values. So -- good luck.


I think he's saying costs, but means externalized costs, which is something much more specific.

In straight costs, yes, end of life care is obviously more expensive than average throughout someone's life.

Sorry, I meant negative nets for health insurance companies. If negative nets occur for a specific group in health insurance (which will occur if their actuarial tables are incomplete), they can fix it by simply charging that group with higher premiums. The only reason they would be unable to charge higher premiums is because of government regulation.
I'm not exactly sure how that's a 'religious value' as much as it is plain business sense, but okay. :roll:

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Angua » Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:00 pm UTC

By licensing I meant things like the clinical trials required to make sure that it works and is safe to use. Not fees paid to x government agency to be put on the market. Patent law allows drugs to be able to recoup their development costs.
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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby qetzal » Sun Aug 18, 2013 10:01 pm UTC

Arariel wrote:Just end patent law, then. Governmental barriers to entry in a market do little but discourage competition; that's why the pharmaceutical industry is close to an oligopoly (if not one already), same for banks, and it seems like agriculture is slipping the same way.


Would you also end drug regulations? If yes, then it's back to the days of little or no safety or efficacy testing. If no, then no more new drugs. No one can spend hundreds of millions to prove safety and efficacy to current Western standards and not have temporary market exclusivity to recoup costs.

Well, no one except government.... ;-)

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Kit. » Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:00 pm UTC

Arariel wrote:
That's not how economics work. Price-hiking does not make consumers more aware; it just makes things more costly for consumers.

Note the difference between 'feel' and 'understand'. If you raise my cost of living, I certainly feel it -- but I don't necessarily understand it.

As smoking is not a Giffen good

How would you know? Nicotine is a potent low-cost addictive stimulant, it could as well be a Giffen good.

Unless you actually mean that in our world of the omnipresent government with its anti-smoking regulations smoking is not a Giffen good.

Arariel wrote:and in most cases not a Veblen good, the higher the price, the lower the quantity demanded. Problem solved.

Well... could you please remind us which problem you were trying to solve?

Arariel wrote:
Kit. wrote:Any property barrier is created by some form of government. No government => no property.

But I digress.

Absolutely untrue. Property's primary trait is its excludability, meaning I can prevent someone from using it. You can exclude someone from land, a house, a car, etc.; build a fence, buy a gun, hire security, etc., all without government.

Absolutely untrue. Even if you can try to "build a fence, buy a gun, hire security, etc." without a government overseeing your efforts, the results may surprise you, and not in a good way.

Arariel wrote:
Arariel wrote:If people's desires are fulfilled with less consumption, they'll consume less. So maximal utility can be achieved by increasing the amount and variety of goods able to be consumed, and in a system where all purchases are voluntary, the increased consumption reflects increased utility and thus standard of life.

Not that fast. First, you would need to prove the existence of the object you are speaking of: the real-world utility function, i.e. a transitive and complete measure of real-world desires.

Then there will be something to discuss here. But not before.

Actually, I only need to assume revealed preference: Given two bundles affordable at a given income, if one bundle is purchased, that bundle is preferred over the other.

Nope, it doesn't work. Your choice-of-a-bundle-by-income is not even a function. My bundle is different from someone else's even if we have the same income.

Arariel wrote:For the negation to be true (that the other bundle is preferred over the first bundle and yet the consumer purchases the first bundle), the consumer would have to be incredibly irrational, so it's a pretty good assumption;

I don't see how ignoring an irrational consumer is a "pretty good assumption". Your use of the world "incredibly" here is just begging the question.

Arariel wrote:
Consuming the junk consumables makes them happier... for a while. That's if we disregard the advertising of the matching medical services, which is intended to make them unhappier with the result of such consumption.

Does it make them happier compared to people from a macroeconomy without such increase? Not necessarily. What if those junk consumables are:
Spoiler:
Nicotine
Spoiler:
Heroin
Spoiler:
Home-made desomorphine

Someone who's very preoccupied with only present pleasures simply has a high interest/discount rate for expected future utility. For instance, if I can spend $100 now or $200 a year from now and I will not settle for an interest rate less than 200 per cent per annum, I would spend $100 now. Similarly, a person who chooses to ingest health-threatening substances sees present benefits as outweighing expected future returns adjusted for the discount rate.

Not sure what you tried to say by providing an example in which you spend less than you could, but you are obviously not two persons in different macroeconomies. Or are you?

Arariel wrote:
Arariel wrote:In a voluntary transaction, both producer and consumer are made better off.

As a general rule? Only if they are omniscient and acting for their own benefit. But then it becomes a tautology.

Assuming no fraud and allowing for long-term corrections.

Cool. So, let's put it all together:

An IV drug user voluntarily chooses between two used needles: needle A and needle B.
The needles are voluntarily given by two other clueless IV drug users, person A and person B.
The needles seem to be equivalent, but he needs only one of them, so he chooses A.
Person A is unknowingly (no fraud) infected with HIV. Needle A carries this infection.
Person B is unknowingly (no fraud) infected with HBV. Needle B carries this infection.
So our IV user chooses a transaction in which he catches AIDS. He is made better off with having AIDS than having Hep.B, isn't he?

Arariel wrote:
For the money to enter anything, it needs to exist in the first place. Currently, the money is printed by the Feds to prevent deflation when the amount of supply on the market grows in the "natural units", as deflation is believed to be harmful for the economy. If the medical service sales are not growing, the money to cover them is not printed, and is not going under a mattress, into a speculative bubble or straight onto the consumer market causing inflation.

How adorable. I suppose next you'll tell me hiring a brigade of children to throw bricks at windows will increase long-run production.

Is it the best argument you could come up with?

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:21 pm UTC

Arariel wrote:I'm not a big fan of Bill Gates, but his foundation has endowments in the billions, so yes, there is enough money for charity. With about half the national income tied up in government spending, there would also be more money for charity if nonessential spending were left to the private sector.


Uh, no there wouldn't. Government provides services that people want. If government didn't provide those services, that doesn't eliminate the demand for those services, it just eliminates the supply. Libertarians seem to have this idea that money that goes to government just falls into a black hole and vanishes. That's not what actually happens. What would happen, by and large, is that the money that is currently directed toward government would mostly get directed toward private sector companies who provide the same services. Charity would pick up some of the slack for services that private industry isn't interested in, but, by and large, charities are pretty heavily dependent on government largesse to provide their services, because people have a very poor idea of how much it actually costs to provide charitable services, and without government, most charities would be chronically underfunded. We more or less attempted this experiment in the 1800 and early 1900s. It's curious to me that philosophies that make a virtue out of self-interest and selfishness seem to have such remarkable faith in charity.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Arariel » Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:52 am UTC

Angua wrote:By licensing I meant things like the clinical trials required to make sure that it works and is safe to use. Not fees paid to x government agency to be put on the market. Patent law allows drugs to be able to recoup their development costs.

If replicating the drug requires 60-70% of the cost and time, that still gives the companies time to recoup costs.

qetzal wrote:
Arariel wrote:Just end patent law, then. Governmental barriers to entry in a market do little but discourage competition; that's why the pharmaceutical industry is close to an oligopoly (if not one already), same for banks, and it seems like agriculture is slipping the same way.


Would you also end drug regulations? If yes, then it's back to the days of little or no safety or efficacy testing. If no, then no more new drugs. No one can spend hundreds of millions to prove safety and efficacy to current Western standards and not have temporary market exclusivity to recoup costs.

Well, no one except government.... ;-)

'But who would build the roads?'
Do you honestly believe most consumers would buy a drug that hasn't been tested? And for those who would, why should anyone prevent two parties from making what they see as a mutually beneficial exchange? Yes, there's risk, but the consumer would evidently feel the risk is justified if they were to purchase it.

Kit. wrote:
Arariel wrote:
That's not how economics work. Price-hiking does not make consumers more aware; it just makes things more costly for consumers.

Note the difference between 'feel' and 'understand'. If you raise my cost of living, I certainly feel it -- but I don't necessarily understand it.

As smoking is not a Giffen good

How would you know? Nicotine is a potent low-cost addictive stimulant, it could as well be a Giffen good.

Unless you actually mean that in our world of the omnipresent government with its anti-smoking regulations smoking is not a Giffen good.

Because tobacco taxes reduce tobacco consumption, as has been seen in many cases, not just in the U.S.

Arariel wrote:and in most cases not a Veblen good, the higher the price, the lower the quantity demanded. Problem solved.

Well... could you please remind us which problem you were trying to solve?

Internalising the negative externality created by smoking.

Absolutely untrue. Even if you can try to "build a fence, buy a gun, hire security, etc." without a government overseeing your efforts, the results may surprise you, and not in a good way.

http://www.policymic.com/articles/44725 ... ng-awesome

Arariel wrote:Actually, I only need to assume revealed preference: Given two bundles affordable at a given income, if one bundle is purchased, that bundle is preferred over the other.

Nope, it doesn't work. Your choice-of-a-bundle-by-income is not even a function. My bundle is different from someone else's even if we have the same income.

You don't need a function. And differences of bundles between individuals has nothing to do with differences of bundles for one individual, which is what revealed preference is about.

Arariel wrote:For the negation to be true (that the other bundle is preferred over the first bundle and yet the consumer purchases the first bundle), the consumer would have to be incredibly irrational, so it's a pretty good assumption;

I don't see how ignoring an irrational consumer is a "pretty good assumption". Your use of the world "incredibly" here is just begging the question.

What did they ever teach you in micro? Rationality only means someone picks the option with the most return minus cost. The only people who cannot be modelled as rational are the insane or the incompetent. Everyone else picks the option that benefits them the most (and yes, even charity benefits someone in that it fulfils what they might view as a moral obligation).
If I have two options and I pick option A, how would I prefer option B? Why would I pick A if I preferred B? The only logical conclusion is that I prefer A to B, and this applies to anyone who is sane. Since schizophrenics aren't half the population, it's certainly a fair assumption to make.
Further, if later I have three options, two with all the same characteristics and consequences of A and B respectively and a third option C, can I possibly be worse off? No; I can pick A as before. If I am observed to pick C, it obviously means I prefer C to A for the same reason it's apparent I prefer A to B. Then that means I am better off than earlier. Clearly, the increased number of options makes me no worse and possibly better off than before, which is what an increase in real income represents.

Arariel wrote:Someone who's very preoccupied with only present pleasures simply has a high interest/discount rate for expected future utility. For instance, if I can spend $100 now or $200 a year from now and I will not settle for an interest rate less than 200 per cent per annum, I would spend $100 now. Similarly, a person who chooses to ingest health-threatening substances sees present benefits as outweighing expected future returns adjusted for the discount rate.

Not sure what you tried to say by providing an example in which you spend less than you could, but you are obviously not two persons in different macroeconomies. Or are you?

What? Two different people? No, I'm talking about two different economic choices. People make the choice between money now and future returns. I'm saying if I or someone else prefers present benefits over future ones, the rational choice would be to get the present benefits. Standard interest rate theory.

Cool. So, let's put it all together:

An IV drug user voluntarily chooses between two used needles: needle A and needle B.
The needles are voluntarily given by two other clueless IV drug users, person A and person B.
The needles seem to be equivalent, but he needs only one of them, so he chooses A.
Person A is unknowingly (no fraud) infected with HIV. Needle A carries this infection.
Person B is unknowingly (no fraud) infected with HBV. Needle B carries this infection.
So our IV user chooses a transaction in which he catches AIDS. He is made better off with having AIDS than having Hep.B, isn't he?

Risk is also accounted for. If risk*cost > (1-risk)*return discounted for future expectations, the drug user doesn't do it. In essence, person A in your example took a gamble, and it didn't pay off, but at the time viewed it as an acceptable risk. Same as with someone in a casino.

Arariel wrote:
For the money to enter anything, it needs to exist in the first place. Currently, the money is printed by the Feds to prevent deflation when the amount of supply on the market grows in the "natural units", as deflation is believed to be harmful for the economy. If the medical service sales are not growing, the money to cover them is not printed, and is not going under a mattress, into a speculative bubble or straight onto the consumer market causing inflation.

How adorable. I suppose next you'll tell me hiring a brigade of children to throw bricks at windows will increase long-run production.

Is it the best argument you could come up with?

Why not? There are hardly any better arguments against economic fallacies than those of Bastiat.
But all right, I'll humour you:
Notwithstanding any effects the money supply has in the Keynesian world, you do realise that even in the Keynesian world, if fewer people need medical services and therefore buy less, that's a rightward AD shift and thus a deflationary effect? Which would mean that if the Fed wanted to prevent deflation/retain inflation at the target rate of x% they would need to print more not less money? Honestly, you're not even being wrong about macro here. You're being wrong about being wrong about macro.

LaserGuy wrote:
Arariel wrote:I'm not a big fan of Bill Gates, but his foundation has endowments in the billions, so yes, there is enough money for charity. With about half the national income tied up in government spending, there would also be more money for charity if nonessential spending were left to the private sector.


Uh, no there wouldn't. Government provides services that people want. If government didn't provide those services, that doesn't eliminate the demand for those services, it just eliminates the supply. Libertarians seem to have this idea that money that goes to government just falls into a black hole and vanishes. That's not what actually happens. What would happen, by and large, is that the money that is currently directed toward government would mostly get directed toward private sector companies who provide the same services. Charity would pick up some of the slack for services that private industry isn't interested in, but, by and large, charities are pretty heavily dependent on government largesse to provide their services, because people have a very poor idea of how much it actually costs to provide charitable services, and without government, most charities would be chronically underfunded. We more or less attempted this experiment in the 1800 and early 1900s.

This is even more adorable. See, 'Government provides services that people want' is just so delightfully vague. Who's 'people'? Certainly not everyone, and certainly not a majority of people (a majority of people oppose the War on Drugs, and yet it continues; marijuana dispensaries and growers in even the states where the states have legalised cannabis have been raided by the feds). So clearly, 'people' can only mean 'some people', viz., there exist people who want these services that government provides. For evident reasons, this is a completely meaningless statement; if literally no one wanted a 'service' provided by the government, it obviously wouldn't exist.

It's curious to me that philosophies that make a virtue out of self-interest and selfishness seem to have such remarkable faith in charity.

It's curious to me that philosophies that make a vice out of self-interest and selfishness seem to have such remarkable faith in politics.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby qetzal » Sun Aug 25, 2013 4:30 am UTC

Arariel wrote:Do you honestly believe most consumers would buy a drug that hasn't been tested? And for those who would, why should anyone prevent two parties from making what they see as a mutually beneficial exchange? Yes, there's risk, but the consumer would evidently feel the risk is justified if they were to purchase it.

Yeah, I do. Perhaps you've heard of herbal supplements? Homeopathy? Millions of dollars of these sold in the US every year, even though most have undergone little or no testing.

But it sounds like you would eliminate the FDA, so that's at least a consistent aporoach. The problem is that for many drugs, you need hundreds of millions of dollars worth of testing to really know if the drug provides a net benefit. Without a government requirement, that testing wouldn't get done, and consumers would have to choose based on inadequate info.

OTOH, maybe the net benefit of not spending a billion dollars to develop each new drug would outweigh the harms.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Arariel » Sun Aug 25, 2013 5:05 am UTC

qetzal wrote:
Arariel wrote:Do you honestly believe most consumers would buy a drug that hasn't been tested? And for those who would, why should anyone prevent two parties from making what they see as a mutually beneficial exchange? Yes, there's risk, but the consumer would evidently feel the risk is justified if they were to purchase it.

Yeah, I do. Perhaps you've heard of herbal supplements? Homeopathy? Millions of dollars of these sold in the US every year, even though most have undergone little or no testing.

But it sounds like you would eliminate the FDA, so that's at least a consistent aporoach. The problem is that for many drugs, you need hundreds of millions of dollars worth of testing to really know if the drug provides a net benefit. Without a government requirement, that testing wouldn't get done, and consumers would have to choose based on inadequate info.

OTOH, maybe the net benefit of not spending a billion dollars to develop each new drug would outweigh the harms.

Which, while somewhat popular, is outside of the mainstream, not at all recommended by physicians, and most of them at least haven't been shown to be particularly harmful. But there are plenty of interests involved in actually keeping the patients alive if only to keep that stream of revenue. Dead customers aren't exactly repeat customers.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby LaserGuy » Sun Aug 25, 2013 6:34 am UTC

Arariel wrote:Do you honestly believe most consumers would buy a drug that hasn't been tested? And for those who would, why should anyone prevent two parties from making what they see as a mutually beneficial exchange? Yes, there's risk, but the consumer would evidently feel the risk is justified if they were to purchase it.


No, but it's quite possible--likely, even--that companies would happily lie to consumers about the risks of their products. As long as the risk isn't immediate, the company can probably get away with it for a good long while without getting caught. Or sometimes companies just don't bother to test their products properly before sending them to market. But hey, what's a few dead babies when there's money to be made?

If I have two options and I pick option A, how would I prefer option B? Why would I pick A if I preferred B? The only logical conclusion is that I prefer A to B, and this applies to anyone who is sane. Since schizophrenics aren't half the population, it's certainly a fair assumption to make.
Further, if later I have three options, two with all the same characteristics and consequences of A and B respectively and a third option C, can I possibly be worse off? No; I can pick A as before. If I am observed to pick C, it obviously means I prefer C to A for the same reason it's apparent I prefer A to B. Then that means I am better off than earlier. Clearly, the increased number of options makes me no worse and possibly better off than before, which is what an increase in real income represents.


Except in some circumstances, the addition of C causes you to change your preference from A to B.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby qetzal » Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:58 pm UTC

Arariel wrote:Which, while somewhat popular, is outside of the mainstream, not at all recommended by physicians, and most of them at least haven't been shown to be particularly harmful. But there are plenty of interests involved in actually keeping the patients alive if only to keep that stream of revenue. Dead customers aren't exactly repeat customers.


If you really think companies won't sell harmful or even fatal drugs because they're all concerned about repeat customers, then you must not be familiar with the various problems that led to the creation of the FDA and other similar agencies. You must also be unaware of the harms caused by unscrupulous companies in less regulated countries (China, India).

Now, I'll agree that the existence of historical and contemporary abuses doesn't automatically mean that regulation is the best approach. But I don't agree we can just dismiss them as outside the mainstream. We should try to judge whether the net result is best without or with regulation.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Tyndmyr » Sun Aug 25, 2013 5:58 pm UTC

qetzal wrote:
Arariel wrote:Do you honestly believe most consumers would buy a drug that hasn't been tested? And for those who would, why should anyone prevent two parties from making what they see as a mutually beneficial exchange? Yes, there's risk, but the consumer would evidently feel the risk is justified if they were to purchase it.

Yeah, I do. Perhaps you've heard of herbal supplements? Homeopathy? Millions of dollars of these sold in the US every year, even though most have undergone little or no testing.

But it sounds like you would eliminate the FDA, so that's at least a consistent aporoach. The problem is that for many drugs, you need hundreds of millions of dollars worth of testing to really know if the drug provides a net benefit. Without a government requirement, that testing wouldn't get done, and consumers would have to choose based on inadequate info.

OTOH, maybe the net benefit of not spending a billion dollars to develop each new drug would outweigh the harms.


The problem isn't homeopathy per se. An interesting idea in it's time, maybe...but the issue is, IMO, all the claims without evidence. If it were simply labeled accurately based on it's contents, it would be described as "bottled water". Hell, you can even call it a cure for dehydration, if you like. That's legit.

We don't really need government testing to shut homeopathy down, we just need more teeth in false advertising laws.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:15 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:The problem isn't homeopathy per se. An interesting idea in it's time, maybe...but the issue is, IMO, all the claims without evidence. If it were simply labeled accurately based on it's contents, it would be described as "bottled water". Hell, you can even call it a cure for dehydration, if you like. That's legit.

We don't really need government testing to shut homeopathy down, we just need more teeth in false advertising laws.
Or, at the very least, empower citizens through educational initiatives to recognize medical scams (and false advertising in general) and to do their own thorough research on these subjects before making their purchasing decisions. Helping people make informed decisions -- and encouraging people to inform themselves! -- is one of the primary duties of a responsible, healthy government.

Either way -- whether you go with stronger false advertising laws or better education re: purchasing choices for our health (or both!) -- the answer is not found in the direction of 'Let the market figure it out'.

(It's also not found in the direction of 'Let's do some government research', though. I can deeply sympathize with those who look upon the NCCAM as an extraordinary waste of time and money.)

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby qetzal » Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:56 pm UTC

Yeah, homeopathy isn't necessarily an argument for govt research funding, or even for the value of FDA, for the reasons you've noted. I just cited it to show that people will, indeed, pay for supposed remedies that don't work and haven't undergone appropriate testing (contra Arariel's implied claim).

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:10 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:The problem isn't homeopathy per se. An interesting idea in it's time, maybe...but the issue is, IMO, all the claims without evidence. If it were simply labeled accurately based on it's contents, it would be described as "bottled water". Hell, you can even call it a cure for dehydration, if you like. That's legit.

We don't really need government testing to shut homeopathy down, we just need more teeth in false advertising laws.
Or, at the very least, empower citizens through educational initiatives to recognize medical scams (and false advertising in general) and to do their own thorough research on these subjects before making their purchasing decisions. Helping people make informed decisions -- and encouraging people to inform themselves! -- is one of the primary duties of a responsible, healthy government.

Either way -- whether you go with stronger false advertising laws or better education re: purchasing choices for our health (or both!) -- the answer is not found in the direction of 'Let the market figure it out'.

(It's also not found in the direction of 'Let's do some government research', though. I can deeply sympathize with those who look upon the NCCAM as an extraordinary waste of time and money.)


Markets require information to be efficient. Letting the market figure it out, in a rational world, would necessitate making sure that information is at least basically accurate.

And yeah, I tend to view the NCCAM with a lot of skepticism. Maybe not ENTIRELY worthless, but like you say, a poor use of time and money. I wouldn't judge all gov research by the same metric, tho. NASA has a lot more going for it, IMO.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:18 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:And yeah, I tend to view the NCCAM with a lot of skepticism. Maybe not ENTIRELY worthless, but like you say, a poor use of time and money. I wouldn't judge all gov research by the same metric, tho. NASA has a lot more going for it, IMO.
NASA put a man on the moon. The NCCAM did a study to find out if distance prayer could treat AIDs.


(spoiler: It didn't)

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby addams » Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:20 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:And yeah, I tend to view the NCCAM with a lot of skepticism. Maybe not ENTIRELY worthless, but like you say, a poor use of time and money. I wouldn't judge all gov research by the same metric, tho. NASA has a lot more going for it, IMO.
NASA put a man on the moon. The NCCAM did a study to find out if distance prayer could treat AIDs.


(spoiler: It didn't)

You are correct. It didn't.
I am willing to call it Worse than incompetence.

from the article:
A small, little-known branch of the National Institutes of Health, NCCAM was launched a dozen years ago to study alternative treatments used by the public but not accepted by mainstream medicine. Since its birth, the center has spent $1.4 billion, most of it on research.

What is Worse than incompetence?
Well....? Would a project that Proves,
"Studies are Worthless. Government studies are Worthless than all other kinds of studies. Studies that mix La-La with Science are the Worse kind of Excess."

How is that proven?
Well; The first part of the Proof is the Data contained within that Article.
For the Last Twelve Years we have had a New Baby Department.
We have a lot of new baby departments. They are an empowered group.

Many studies are Worthless.
The numbers seem inflated.
The numbers in that Article seem inflated.

The article was written in a style that leaves no doubt.
All Alternative Treatments are a waste of Taxpayer's money.
And; During the last twelve years it has been a lot of money.

The selfish gene is a busy gene.
Alternative Treatments are often a good idea.
Studies of Alternative Treatments are not new.
This Department is New.

It was created by the same bunch of people that created the Department of Homeland Security.
Is it funny?

The people that say, "Government needs to shrink and get out of Billy Joe Bubba's life."
Also said, "We Need Huge Government Departments to KEEP US SAFE!"

Broken? A broken government?
A government that promotes and rewards Stupidity.

The subject of Alternative Treatments is a reasonable subject.
It is also an important subject for Ethics Committees.

Alternative Treatments in concert with Modern Western Medicine add to the Quality of Life of The People.
I know this to be True.

Remember the Placebo Studies?
It was not the sugar pill, it was the Human Contact.
That is the same reason Massage did work and Remote Prayer did not.

Caring Competent Engaged Care does not prevent Death from coming.
Caring Competent Engaged Care does allow people to heal their own way.

The Americans are an angry people.
They are frightened and angry.

I have spoken to people that want what is not possible.
They must Blame Someone. It is so wrong and it must be someone's fault.

Death comes to all that live.
Fear of Death is human of us.

It is not wrong to ask Questions about Alternative Treatments.
It is wrong to ask Stupid Questions about Alternative Treatments.

Some of the stuff that I have heard about Research sense the 2000 switch over! Tisk-Tisk.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby qetzal » Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:06 am UTC

addams wrote:Alternative Treatments in concert with Modern Western Medicine add to the Quality of Life of The People.
I know this to be True.

Remember the Placebo Studies?
It was not the sugar pill, it was the Human Contact.
That is the same reason Massage did work and Remote Prayer did not.


Yeah, that's not really an argument in support of alt med. I agree that human contact has positive effects, but alt med isn't actually about human contact. If it was, they wouldn't constantly tout BS like homeopathy, reiki, innate intelligence, qi meridians, chakras, etc. They'd focus on how to maximize the benefits of human contact, without all the extraneous magic potions and mumbo-jumbo.

So no. Alternative treatments per se typically do NOT add to quality of life. Human contact adds to quality of life, and alt med proponents like to co-opt that as supposed evidence for their favorite brand of mystical delusion.

Also, NCCAM doesn't much qualify as 'Government Funding of Science' because most of what they fund isn't legitimate science. Not because unproven treatments should never be studied, but because their study should be predicated on an adequate prior foundation. No such foundation exists for homeopathy or reiki or acupuncture or chiropractic or reflexology or etc.

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby Magnanimous » Thu Sep 12, 2013 2:34 am UTC

qetzal wrote:Yeah, that's not really an argument in support of alt med. I agree that human contact has positive effects, but alt med isn't actually about human contact. If it was, they wouldn't constantly tout BS like homeopathy, reiki, innate intelligence, qi meridians, chakras, etc. They'd focus on how to maximize the benefits of human contact, without all the extraneous magic potions and mumbo-jumbo.

A lot of alt med practices utilize holism, especially things like faith healing and naturopathy... According to that theory diseases come from imbalance in the self, and the goal is to improve quality of life with human contact and mumbo-jumbo. I don't know if they're mutually exclusive. (And yes, if practitioners were thinking rationally they would ditch the magic stuff and look into benefits of human contact. Part of the reason they don't, I think, is that there's no incentive to improve efficacy because people already focus on the medicine's successes and discredit its failures.)

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Re: End Government Funding of Science?

Postby addams » Thu Sep 12, 2013 3:19 am UTC

Magnanimous wrote:
qetzal wrote:Yeah, that's not really an argument in support of alt med. I agree that human contact has positive effects, but alt med isn't actually about human contact. If it was, they wouldn't constantly tout BS like homeopathy, reiki, innate intelligence, qi meridians, chakras, etc. They'd focus on how to maximize the benefits of human contact, without all the extraneous magic potions and mumbo-jumbo.

A lot of alt med practices utilize holism, especially things like faith healing and naturopathy... According to that theory diseases come from imbalance in the self, and the goal is to improve quality of life with human contact and mumbo-jumbo. I don't know if they're mutually exclusive. (And yes, if practitioners were thinking rationally they would ditch the magic stuff and look into benefits of human contact. Part of the reason they don't, I think, is that there's no incentive to improve efficacy because people already focus on the medicine's successes and discredit its failures.)

Difficult subject.

I think it is so unkind to tell people that they have an unbalanced Spirit; The evidence is the disease.
It is also unkind to tell people that they are praying to the wrong God.

One of the dangers of Human to Human personal contact is Transference.
That can be horrible.

It is flattering to the clinician when the patient elevates the clinician.
The clinician becomes like family, the good kind.
The clinician becomes like clergy, the good kind.
The clinician has responsibilities to know about the Power of Faith and to behave in a way that supports the patient.

It is less than flattering when the patient sees every flaw and horrible quality of their own in the clinician.
Human to Human contact can be a great good.
It can also be terrible.
Sometimes the patient suffers.
Sometimes the clinician suffers.

What is the difference between Heaven and Hell?
Spoiler:
The company you keep.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.


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