From the comic strip in the beginning and the poem in the end, and right through the writing and the amazing Cognitive Bias Codex, the post I link to is a can’t-miss story on biases. Congrats to Better Humans’ Buster Benson for the writing and thanks to fellow PLDer Boris Tsimerinov for the heads-up on LinkedIn.
The issue of conflict of interests is very important to us, as is the issue of information sourcing. As more and more people read the news and research specific topics via Twitter, Facebook and RSS it’s very important to understand that ALL sources have their biases, prejudices and conflicts of interest. The most important reminder is this: “The truth is that, no matter how loudly people protest that they have safeguards in place and will not abuse their power, conflicts of interest lead to abuses as surely as rivers flow to the sea. Even if they are disclosed in disclaimers, as banks now do with investment research, bad things will happen.”
Stanford U. is starting a program to advocate against the influence of drug and medical device cies. on physicians, a practice that spins some US$1 billion per year. The problem is that the program is being partly funded by Pfizer. Stanford claims that Pfizer’s support was 100% voluntary and that there are no strings attached. How far can we push the boundaries on conflicts of interest? And if it appears conflicted, doesn’t it defeat the purpose from the get-go?