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Friday, May 12, 2006

Faith Healers

In a previous post I quoted Leigh Turner of McGill University Quebec as saying, "Biotech, in a similar manner to many religious movements, has its charismatic prophets, enthusiastic evangelists and enrapt audiences. Like religions, it offers a comforting message of salvation. Instead of imagining a day of rapture when the dead rise from their graves to begin eternal life, biotech enthusiasts imagine the era when medical technologies provide a renewable, largely imperishable body. … Biotech is not just an assemblage of research programs and techniques. In a scientific and technological era, biotech also offers a surrogate religious framework for many individuals."

I'd like to discuss two examples of this. The first one religious, and the second Biotech.

Benny Hinn is a faith healer. He makes a whole lot of money off of people who are desperate for Gods intervention into their problems. He recently had a gig over in Denmark where a young girl with a serious spinal condition attended.

From the James Randi webpage:

Unfortunately, the little girl with a damaged back did not regain her health – she had to drive home with her parents, disappointed. She did, however, have a more pronounced desire to stand up and walk than she had before. Somehow, I think her parents hoped more than she did. She never looked as if she believed anything would happen anyway. Which, in the Land of Faith Healing, means that she is to blame for Benny Hinn's failure. If you are cured, it is the work of God (through the faith healer). If you are not cured, it is because you haven't believed enough.
But desperation breeds hope, hope springs eternal, and hope will make people pay. The collection of money (cash, checks or plastic) in white buckets to fund these "crusades," while songs of the promise of upcoming miracles churned out from the stage, made it very clear: "Prosperity Teaching" means that you can be healed, but only if you pay up.

I believe that Benny Hinn is a bad guy. He's been exposed by James Randi. 20/20 ran a piece on him that showed just how much luxory he has wrapped himself in with the faithfuls money. He profits because he knows what people need to hear. He does not stop for any proof, he tells the masses what they want to hear and it sounds good to them.

Now! Biotech.

NeoRx has been around since 1984. This is a company that made the promise of curing cancer. Year after year they went to their investors (their faithful) and assured them that they were on the verge of something big. Hundreds of millions of dollars later, NeoRx is gone. The leaders however, have found a way to preserve the funding of their efforts. Since they did such a good job they will now be installing themselves into a Cargo Cult control room called Poinard Pharmaceuticals. The drug will be Picoplatin. As it is with all drug companies, the drug may or may not work. What matters is that the new companies big plan.

"NeoRx Corporation will formally change its corporate name to Poniard Pharmaceuticals, Inc. to reflect its strategic repositioning as a global specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of innovative products to impact the lives of people with cancer."

That's important stuff. People with cancer need their lives impacted by innovative products. In addition to Picoplatin they are working to build a diverse portfolio of oncology product candidates. Did I mention that they've been in business since 1984?

Faith healers can make any promise that people want to hear. Want a cure for cancer? You got it. Spinal cord not working? It'll be fixed. There is no limit to what they can promise to do. They can promise that all sorts of airplanes will be coming to their Cargo Cult Airport but so far none have come. Benny Hinn and NeoRx have been around since at least 1984. Before that they were developing their strategy to become successful. They have been out there in front the faithful preaching the good news and they are still alive. They have succeeded. Whether the money was stuffed into a white bucket or transferred from a TD Waterhouse account, the money went to where the faith healers wanted it. It went into their livelihoods. Nice hotels, luxory cars, new clothes and ever increasing bank accounts have all been their rewards. If you don't have any faith in them it doesn't matter. They survive on the resources of their believers.

1 comment:

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