Posted by: ritagone | March 20, 2019

Paranoia! Conspiracy! Deception! Lies!

Now that I have your attention, I want to tell you about an HBO Documentary I just watched –The Inventor: Out For Blood in Silicon Valley – which I think every

one reading this should find a way to see if HBO is not readily available to you.

It’s the now famous story of Elizabeth Holmes, wunderkind who started the company Theranos promising to revolutionize blood testing by using a simple finger prick instead of (what often seems like) vials and vials and vials of blood from your veins.  With people on her Board of Directors like former Secretary of State George Schultz and Henry Kissinger, with her blonde good looks and personable ways (although the fact that she hardly ever seems to blink is, I found, a bit off-putting), she built an office building/laboratory in Silicon Valley after dropping out of Stanford, razzled and dazzled everyone for years, even when the promise became impossible to fulfill.

What amazed me as I watched whistleblowers and journalists as the heroes of this story, was that how often we are bamboozled by the things I mentioned in the above paragraph: promises, well-known names attached to the project, an attractive founder who can be very articulate about its prospects, and other factors that just turn our heads and make us believe, as one writer said, “in unicorns.”

        The story behind this documentary is all too familiar, and illustrates to me a very definite point: we can be pretty gullible, pretty susceptible to the lies and deceptions of other people too often.  Why is that?  Sometimes it’s because we want to think well and positively of the people we know.  Other times it’s because they are so adept at pulling the wool over our eyes.  Elizabeth Holmes appeared so sweet, so earnest, so enthusiastic about her mission in life, to bring this one aspect of health care to as many of the general population as she could, with her mantra being, “No one should have to say good-bye too soon,” that it was hard to resist her appeal.

And yet.  And yet.  Beneath the sales pitch, beneath the enthusiasm, machines were being switched, patients were being fooled, and staff being asked to lie and cheat if they wanted to keep their jobs. It got more and more out of hand.

Thankfully, the company is no more.  What was at one time a nine billion dollar business is now worth zero.  But it makes me wonder what other companies and people are out there trying their best to swindle, to lie and cheat and deceive us.

No wonder we need a free press to get to the bottom of things, to expose these kinds of deceptions.  No wonder we praise the whistleblowers (sometimes, whereas sometimes we don’t) who are brave enough to take a risk to come forward and speak the truth.

You don’t need to go hunting for a good fictionalized movie to see this weekend.  Just find this documentary, sit back, watch, and be amazed once again at what people are capable of.


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