Sunday, August 24, 2008

Conflicts of Interest - and silence

I'm a fan of Scott Adams and Dilbert. I like this 1996 strip. First, it features Procter and Gamble. Second it has something to say about conflicts of interest.

Phil the Prince of Insufficient Light is the ruler of Lower Heck (and the brother of the pointy-haired boss). It pokes fun at P&G's logo controversy. In brief, P&G received undesired media publicity in the 1980s when an urban legend declared that their corporate logo was a Satanic symbol. This forced P&G to adopt a new logo. In 2007 a court ruled that P&G is not in league with his Satanic Majesty. P&G won a $19m lawsuit against rival Amway over the rumours. I'll have more to say of this controversy later.

"This is about protecting our reputation," said Jim Johnson, P&G's chief legal officer.

The strip also has something interesting to say about conflicts of interest (and declaring of such conflicts). Some imagine that declaring conflicts is the be-all-and-end-all solution to the problems of pharmaceutical science. One counter-argument is that conflicts influence not only that which is done, but also that which is not done. Sitting in silence while a colleague is bullied for example.

I propose that more consideration should be given to the concept of corporate sponsorship "to stay away". Click Here to fund the Scientific Misconduct Blog.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...


This and your other recent posts indicate an intimate reflection and clear soul searching on your part, which is rare, and admirable.

As far as speaking out on such issues, as you know, when you do, nothing seems louder to others- when you speak when others do not.

Maintain your strengh and persistence,