With 45,000 students and 4,000 faculty and staff, the University of Florida is Florida's largest taxpayer supported university and the eighth largest university in the Nation; enjoying as well the State's highest rated law and medical schools.
This site examines how and why freedom of speech and dissent and the open and free interchange of information and ideas thereby engendered are substantially compromised at great cost to Floridians in both these basic disciplines.
And of course, such low standards are an open invitation for other disciplines to follow suit. Indeed, why bother with all the tedium and expense of clinical trials to prove your effectiveness when others don't?
And these problems might be expected to be the most pronounced regarding other "alternative medicine" modalities of treatment. For instance, Shands has an acupuncture unit. Why shouldn't this unit just follow suit, avoiding research while at the same time making broad insupportable claims as to its effectiveness?
There are alternative modalities of health care that are both effective and doing credible research to establish their value in the face of a skeptical public and medical profession. This applies just as well of course to AIM's competing "therapy" professions who even without AIM already have to deal with numerous charlatans out to confuse the public for personal gain.
In short, an alternative modality of healing such as Arts in Medicine needs to do just the opposite of what it is doing. That is, it needs to be making reasonable claims of effectiveness based on the best most credible research obtainable; far more so than established medical disciplines if it is to gain the respect and support of the medical profession and public.
My case is of course extensively documented on the Web.
This is clearly good advice but there are difficulties with it in my particular case. For, I'm neither faculty nor student, merely a volunteer. Thus, I don't have a close association with faculty members in any particular department and moreover any faculty or students that might wish to support me stand to lose much more than I do and obviously I wouldn't want them to risk that. As well, I haven't been around the UF Campus very long (at least since I was a student many years ago.) either.
I have of course publicized these issues extensively on the Web. However, I have made no attempt to obtain publicity in the local media (or any other media) regarding the Arts in Medicine program; although this remains an option.
However, I have had extensive experience regarding the legal system. There, in a very few cases I obtained decent stories but the press always shied away from any serious accusations of wrongdoing by the legal/judicial profession, regardless of how well documented. With some notable exceptions, the press proved to be part of the same small town power structure and an instrument of smear tactics, discrediting, and ridicule for the local legal/judicial profession and the other good old boys.
"Official channels are designed by and usually serve the purposes of powerful organizations. Typically, they keep public discussion to a minimum. They deal with technicalities rather than the underlying issues. They take a lot of time, allowing abuses to continue and dissipating the urgency of concern. They are largely under the control of bodies with more links to suppressers than to dissenters."
"Faith in official channels dies hard. When one official body proves useless or joins in the suppression, many dissidents seek out another and then another. Official channels should be understood not as neutral tools of justice, but as part of a wide, though often uncoordinated, power structure. Just as academia is a system of power-knowledge, so are bureaucracies, federal agencies and the courts. Occasionally they might be helpful to dissidents, but it is important to be wary."
Regarding Arts in Medicine, as mentioned above, any such channels that I am aware of were simply closed to me.
"There are plenty of dissenters who, after being attacked, decide to acquiesce. Thereafter, they do everything possible to conform to what is required. Sometimes they even join in attacks on other dissidents. Historically, there are cases of prominent dissidents who, after being attacked, spent years trying to become acceptable to the establishment. These are instances showing that suppression can be effective in stifling dissent. Even more important is the role of suppression in signaling to others--those who haven't expressed any dissent--the dangers of stepping out of line."
Some of these thoughts were expressed in the previous article above. Clearly one needs to be prepared for the long haul; for these dynamics could be vastly accentuated, for good or evil, in employing the Web to air dissent.
"The most common experience of whistleblowers is that they are attacked. Instead of their messages being evaluated, the full power of the organization is turned against the whistleblower. This is commonly called the shoot-the-messenger syndrome, though fortunately few whistleblowers are physically shot, at least outside of dictatorships. The means of suppression are impressive, nonetheless. They include ostracism by colleagues, petty harassment (including snide remarks, assignment to trivial tasks and invoking of regulations not normally enforced), spreading of rumors, formal reprimands, transfer to positions with no work (or too much work), demotion, referral to psychiatrists, dismissal, and blacklisting."
"The lengths to which organizational elites will go to suppress whistleblowers are amazing and hard to appreciate without hearing, first-hand, stories of reprisals. Consider the following example, by no means an exceptional one. Chuck Atkinson was a quality assurance inspector at a nuclear power plant being constructed in Texas. Initially committed to nuclear power, in 1980 he became an anonymous whistleblower concerning safety violations. He was suddenly dismissed in 1982 after reporting problems to his employer, Brown and Root, that would have required redoing work. On the day he was fired, an inspector at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission revealed his identity as a whistleblower to plant officials; since he was no longer employed, the NRC would not maintain his anonymity. After testifying publicly against the industry, he was blacklisted. For example, after obtaining a job at another power station, he was fired a few days later after his new employers found out about his whistleblowing. Atchison "lost his job, his home, his credit rating, his sense of personal safety, and his self-esteem as a breadwinner."
"Many individuals who speak out did not intend to be and do not think of themselves as whistleblowers. They simply spoke out in the expectation that the issues they thought important would be addressed honestly and effectively. They are terribly shocked when, instead, they become the target. One reason why these unintentional whistleblowers" have so little chance of success or even survival is that they have not mobilized support beforehand. They are lone dissidents typically up against the full power of an organizational hierarchy."
"For many organizational dissidents, it is not easy to lie low and collect information while being aware that abuses continue apace. In a hospital, for example, violations of procedures may be risking the lives of patients. Many principled employees consider it their duty to speak out as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the result is usually that they are ruthlessly crushed."
"Whistleblowers typically use formal procedures. For example, they might complain first to their boss, then to higher management and then to appeal bodies. Charles Robertson was a chartered accountant who worked for the British accountancy firm Guardian Royal Exchange (GRE). He became aware of financial irregularities concerning taxes payable and raised the issue with other managers and the chairman. He was expected to cover up the problems he had found and, when he refused, he was suspended from his duties. He appealed to GRE's grievance committee, lost, and was dismissed. He went to the industrial tribunal on the grounds of unfair dismissal, representing himself because local law firms declined to take his case--four out of five of them because they did business with GRE. The tribunal ruled unanimously that he had been unfairly dismissed and should be reinstated in his job. (Rulings to reinstate occur in less than one out of a hundred cases.) GRE appealed against the judgment. Robertson spent months preparing for the appeal, but GRE withdrew at the last moment. It still refused to employ him and paid the maximum penalty for violating the reinstatement order, a trivial [[sterling]]4,264. It took Robertson three years to get another job, at one quarter of his previous salary. His professional association was unwilling to investigate the financial dealings about which Robertson had raised concerns."
"Whistleblowers typically are hard-working, conscientious employees who believe in "the system." When they see something wrong, they speak out in the expectation that their complaint will be treated seriously. When, instead, they are attacked, they typically take their complaint to some higher body where they expect to find reasonable people who will dispense justice. Yet, in most cases, each new body fails to act against the problem. Many whistleblowers retain their faith that someone, somewhere, will provide justice. Without such a faith, it would be difficult to persist through appeals, inquiries and court cases for years, and sometimes decades."
"There are occasional victories, of course, which encourage everyone to think that the system does work after all. But the overwhelming experience of whistleblowers is that formal channels are part of the problem. The reasons for this are straightforward. Appeal bodies are part of the wider system of power and usually seek or reach accommodation with other powerful groups. Hence such bodies are highly unlikely to support a single individual against elites from a major organization, who usually have links with elites elsewhere. Sometimes appeal bodies have a crusading spirit, but these ones usually are starved of funds or come under attack themselves."
"Nonviolent activists seldom have the illusion that society's formal channels provide a solution to injustices, since otherwise it would not be necessary to use nonviolent direct action in the first place. One assumption underlying nonviolent action is that people need to take matters into their own hands rather than relying on others--elected representatives, courts, regulatory agencies, professionals--to take care of things. Whistleblowers would be much more effective if they learned from activists the power of acting directly rather than just appealing to someone else to administer justice."
"If formal channels are ineffective for whistleblowers, what is the alternative? One strategy is based on "mobilization," namely winning supporters by circulating relevant documents, holding meetings and obtaining media coverage."
"My assessment of many whistleblower cases is that there are two things that are most helpful to whistleblowers: contacting other whistleblowers and obtaining publicity."
"Publicity is the second powerful support for whistleblowers. As long as the whistleblower pursues justice through formal channels, organizational elites have an enormous advantage. They have higher status, far more resources (for example to engage legal professionals) and contacts with other elites. This is precisely why lone whistleblowers usually find formal channels so useless. The people who are being appealed to are either the perpetrators themselves or those who have stronger links to them than to the complainant. Furthermore, organizational elites usually have much more control over the process of appeal. The media, in this context, can be powerful tools for whistleblowers. Media coverage alerts a cross-section of the population to the dispute, in a way that is not controlled by organizational elites. Media coverage gets to many who are not subject to control by elites. If the whistleblower is pursuing a just and worthy cause, this often comes through in the coverage. Likewise, if organizational elites have been taking punitive action against the whistleblower, this often comes out and, indeed, may be the main point of the coverage."
"Although media coverage can be very helpful to whistleblowers, the media are not automatic allies. Often there are difficulties in gaining coverage because cases are too old, too complicated or threaten the interests of advertisers or the media themselves. In some cases, media outlets ruthlessly attack whistleblowers, out of hostility or just the search for a "good story." Nevertheless, media coverage is more likely to be a source of support for whistleblowers than using official channels."
"Whistleblowers typically are attacked personally and often have their careers destroyed. The more successful whistleblowers may obtain some belated compensation, such as a monetary pay-off as part of a court settlement. But has the organization changed at all? In some cases new policies are introduced, but in others the situation is worse than before, since the harsh treatment of whistleblowers sends a potent message to other potential dissidents about what might happen to them should they rock the boat. A lone whistleblower who is ruthlessly squashed may leave a corrupt organization less open to change than before. Policies occasionally may change as a result of whistleblowing, but not systems of hierarchy, division of labor, profit motive, patriarchy and the like."
"For example, Karl Konrad was a member of the Victorian police in Melbourne. He challenged the rigid police culture by speaking out about corruption in the force, most prominently about bribery involving window shutter companies. He was shunned by fellow officers, called a "dog" (informer) over the public address system in one station, cautioned over trivial matters, fined and eventually dismissed. Konrad was far more effective than most police whistleblowers, especially in generating public awareness of police corruption, but in the end the Victorian police force remained essentially unchanged. No corrupt police were disciplined; only Konrad lost his job."