Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos and I.

I never felt jealous of Elizabeth Holmes, the infamous founder of Theranos, a company that sold science fiction as health care (Walgreens bought into it).  Her photo on magazine covers did not impress me. I am human, I do get jealous of scientists that achieve something important and useful or just beautiful, because sometimes experiments are beautifully done and they become more than science, almost a work of art. But in the case of E.H., I knew that she was trying to con the world.  I have many decades of biochemistry on me and I know how to analyze scientific (or pseudo-scientific) talk.

I still resent the fact that so many got ensnared in her “story” when it was so patently false, but you will probably notice that only non-scientists got hypnotized by her. So she got her just desserts, she was finally got knocked down from her pedestal, but I am still resentful. Why?  I don’t like that humans tend to fall fast for charlatans and are not impressed by good science.

In a more perfect world, “common” people would use science to understand the world around them and their own bodies.

I would like to see improved scientific education in high school. I would design a curriculum that includes “choose the problem you need/wish to understand”. After you learn the basics, then it is time to apply those basics to your own life.  Students have to learn how to make sense of daily life: how acne happens, how evolution dictates human sex life, the influence of hormones on depression, etc. Most people don’t understand how their bodies work and have silly expectations about their “mental” power to govern their bodies. This goes for sex, love, depression, drugs and more. We would all be happier if we understood that chemicals, both endogenous and external, affect our brains and that if we are not careful we will lose control of our body and even our lives.

And, if people knew more science, they would not be so easily fooled by the Elizabeth Holmes and other charlatans.




Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.