Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, September 24, 2010

Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

Wow. Megan McArdle is still trying to make claims about drug companies and innovation. Of course she is not still saying that 80-90% of innovation comes from high US drug prices--that didn't work out too well last time--so she changes her tune slightly.

Derek Lowe has something to say to the folks who claim that all the "real" research on pharmaceuticals is done in universities, and drug companies just steal the ideas and monetize them:

[snipped quote]

There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the way that a modern economy drives innovation. People tend to think in terms of a "eureka!" moment--a blockbuster idea or product that springs full blown from the head of Zeus, and then exists forever. But in fact, an enormous amount of productivity improvement is driven by tiny, continuous, incremental change. This is true of treating childhood cancer, it is true of drug discovery, and it is true of Toyotas.

Nobody said all innovation was done by the government. Nobody said that all drugs are discovered in a Eureka! moment. Nobody said drug companies just steal government innovations. There are no links because nobody is making those claims. McArdle is just linking to someone making unsupported accusations so she can pretend the drug companies are victims of vicious lies.

Remember when she found out that her inhaler was now less effective because the manufacturer monkeyed around with it so they could claim it was a new product? Incremental pharmaceutical innovation at work!


Clever Pseudonym said...

"People tend to think in terms of a 'eureka!' moment..."

No they don't. It must be exhausting to spend as much time convincing yourself you are so much smarter than everybody else. No wonder Megan never has time to research. She's knackered by her intellectual insecurities.

aimai said...

CP, up above makes the same point I was going to make in a different way. Megan's "arguments" remind me irresistably of Bush's. Remember how he used to say patently stupid things or things that were trivially true but besides the point: "See, sovreignity means you are sovereign..." in explaining, very slowly, why his government was going to do something. Someone on these internets said once that it was as though Bush was repeating the explanations that his own advisors had given him, trying to break down complex problems into really misleading sound bites because that is all he could take.

Megan's arguments are really the same thing. To make them, as Megan, you'd have to assume your readers are really, really, stupid (and I'll defer to her on that one). They have to know *nothing* about the research, testing, and lisencing biz. In fact, they have to know less than nothing because where "I did not know that" ought to be is a huge grab bag of really stupid ideas.

Then, as Megan, you have to set yourself up as an arbiter of information and facts in which you disabuse your readers of their stupid ideas by substituting equally erroneous and more pernicious ideas.

On another thread Susan of Texas alluded to Slactivist's little essay on ego and confirmation bias. I think Fred has actually written even more piercing stuff on the will to act as though you believe something you have to know is false. For Fred, as a believing Christian, passing on false informatino, sending along those group emails, slandering whole groups of people, or even saying (falsely "Some people think...") is a serious breach of "thou shalt not bear false witness."

Megan's not any kind of Christian, but the essay on the will to lie to yourself and others is a peach. I don't have a link to it though.


DocAmazing said...

Megan's commentors are, as usual, adamantine in their ignorance. They still seem to think that the US leads the world in development of drugs--when even Cuba is ahead of us in vaccine research, and most of the stuff I prescribe for my patients is either 1960s-vintage or produced by French firms.

But hey--we can grow hair on bald guys. We're the world leader!

aimai said...

I thought we were against growing hair on anything? Or maybe that was just palms?


DocAmazing said...

Can we grow hair on bald guys' palms? O brave new world...

cynic said...

Aimai... your lament is easily solved:

Here is the link

aimai said...

Thanks Cynic, but I was thinking of another essay that was specifically focused on Christians and specifically Christian lies about non-Christians and non-right wingers. Can you find that one? I'm constantly bookmarking Fred's posts but somehow always incorrectly.


Smut Clyde said...

Perhaps someone should bring the concept of "least patentable difference" to her attention.

bulbul said...


could it be any of the following?
False Witness
False Witness 2

aimai said...

Your google-fu is very strong. Its the first two, though I like the third one as well. In fact, the third one (VII) links to a very interesting piece on whether its ok to lie to Nazis to protect Jews. Interestingly enough this version of strict fundy lunacy comes up today when Christine O'Donell alluded to it and insisted that "lying" was such a terrible sin in the eyes of god that he would prevent you from having to do so and figure out a way to protect the Jews himself. In other words: a righteous person would never have to be in a position to commit a lesser sin to prevent a murder. Since this is patently false: anyone who actually protected Jews in WWII lied to do it we must presume either that god condemend them to hell for doing so, or that he saved hundreds of thousands of Jews without our noticing and failed to save those, like (say) Anne Frank because...? Maybe their human saviours failed the "no lying" test and losing their battle was God's punishment?

I don't know, but its really interesting how perennial the use of scripture to excuse things is.


bulbul said...


well, 'tis true my google-fu strong, but in this case, I simple remembered. I read Fred's blog religiously and even used to be a regular commenter - although, I am ashamed to admit, I missed the great Inigo Montoya fest.

its really interesting how perennial the use of scripture to excuse things is
Use, indeed. Umberto Eco makes a distinction between interpreting a text and using it and I think it perfectly applies to what the fundies are doing with the Bible and the Constitution. Or, in Master's words:
"Tea partiers tend to revere the U.S. Constitution in much the same way that many American evangelicals revere the Bible, which is to say they read it without comprehension, looking only for ammunition that can be used against their enemies. And since neither text was written for such a purpose, this so-called reverence is an exercise in illiteracy."