Tag Archives: law

NYT: Law Should Compel Disclosure of Drug Company Payments to Physicians

A September 27 editorial in the New York Times calls on the US Congress to pass legislation that will force pharmaceutical companies to publicly disclose all payments they make to physicians. As the editorial puts it, “Patients need to know that doctors are prescribing particular drugs for sound medical reasons — not because drug companies have bought their doctors’ loyalty.”

The editorial follows an exposé the New York Times published this past July (see the AHP report) in which it was revealed that “nearly 1/3 of the [American Psychiatric Association’s] budget comes directly from the pharmaceutical industry, in the form of journal ads, convention exhibits, and the sponsoring of fellowships, conferences, and symposia.” Continue reading NYT: Law Should Compel Disclosure of Drug Company Payments to Physicians

The Scopes Trial Revisited

Science as CultureIn a recent issue of Science as Culture, 17(2), Matthew J. Tontonoz compares the recent “evolution wars” with a revival of the historic Scopes trial of 1925. In this formulation, William Jennings Bryan — who had served as the Democratic presidential nominee in 1896, 1900, and 1908 — plays the role presently adopted by, as Tontonoz puts it, “today’s creationists and proponents of intelligent design.”

Using Bryan’s unread closing remarks as a key to his views, this revisionist historical work argues that Bryan opposed evolution primarily for political and ethical reasons–reasons that have been lost to historical memory. Bryan’s overarching concern was the threat to society posed by extrapolations of evolutionary doctrine–namely, Social Darwinism and eugenics. His commitment to the Social Gospel put him at odds with the concept of natural selection being applied to humans. This view of Bryan differs from the one with which we are most familiar. Our faulty historical memory largely reflects the caricatured view of Scopes spawned by the movie Inherit the Wind, a view that, furthermore, reinforces an unhelpful positivistic view of science.

See also at AHP: Darwin and early American psychology, Scopes “Monkey” Trial Ended on this Date

Scopes “Monkey” Trial Ended on this Date

John ScopesEighty-eight years ago today — 21 July 1925 — the Dayton, Tennessee trial of John Scopes, for teaching the theory of evolution by natural selection in his high school classroom, ended with a conviction and a fine of $100. The conviction had been expected — indeed, engineered — by Scopes’ defense team, which included the famed lawyer Clarence Darrow. The prosecution team had included the thee-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan.

The conviction was later overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court. Often forgotten, however, is that the Supreme Court rejected Scopes’ defense team’s arguments that the statute on which the conviction was based violated the Establishment clause of the U. S. Constitution (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion….”), Continue reading Scopes “Monkey” Trial Ended on this Date

101 Years Since First US Sterilization Law

Eugenics Congress logo According to the “Today in the History of Psychology” website, the first U.S. eugenic sterilization law was enacted by the Indiana legislature on March 9, 1907. “The law provided for sterilization of ‘confirmed criminals, idiots, imbeciles, and rapists.'” Indiana was not the first US state to attempt a compulsory sterilization law. A bill was introduced in the Michigan legislature in 1897 but failed to pass. Pennsylvania legislators passed a sterilization bill in 1905, but it was vetoed by the governor. The legislative success in Indiana was repeated in 1909 with similar laws in Washington and California. Thirty other states soon followed suit.

Continue reading 101 Years Since First US Sterilization Law

“A Forensics of the Mind”

courtroom_1_sm.gifIn the most recent issue of Isis (vol. 98, no. 2), Alison Winter discusses the contested and problematic status of psychological expertise in courts of law.

This essay discusses the yoked history of witnessing in science and the law and examines the history of attempts, over the past century, to use science to improve the surety of witness testimony. It examines some of these projects, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s. Continue reading “A Forensics of the Mind”