Friday, January 23, 2009

What "Consensus"?

By Sophia Siedlberg

Anyone who has followed the environmental debates of the past ten years will probably have noticed the use of the term "consensus statement" to give various documents an air of authority, in this case with the intent to clarify what is known about the impact of human activity on the environment, but also to send a message to critics of the current dogma that their dissent will not be tolerated. It is this second line of reasoning that has proven problematic. Personally I am not a "climate skeptic" but I do often sense that some environmentalists are going too far when trying to stamp out dissent. This is because some aspects of the criticism will inevitably involve legitimate scientific questions.

The concept of "consensus statements" actually originates in medical science. Often such a statement will be published with the intent to clarify an established diagnosis and lay the foundation for any future guidelines. But when the Euro DSD consortium started waving the "Chicago Consensus Statement" around like it was the medical equivalent of the Ten Commandments, knowing full well that this statement does not have the consensus of those it applies to (people with intersex health issues). It only has the consensus of a group of academics in Chicago, which was initially funded by an American health insurance agency, based in California (Blue Shield), with the purpose of making sure that poor outcomes of treatment will not end up being the subject of charges of medical malpractice in the US courts.

Putting it bluntly, the Chicago Consensus Statement was the culmination of American health insurers covering their backs, academics in Chicago wanting to engage in a political process of social cleansing and European "experts" who wanted to over simplify any future guidelines arising from this statement.

You will notice the absence of a broader patient consensus simply because patient input was deliberately ignored. Two “intersex advocates” were involved, but when one of these advocates lost her mandate among patient groups, amid accusations of fraud and serious conflicts of interest, the Chicago Consensus Statement came to lack any credibility.

Did Euro DSD seek to distance themselves from this statement? Far from it. They have obviously adopted the terminology of the Chicago Consensus Statement by defining intersex people as "Disorders of Sex Development". And the focus has shifted from simply treating any intersex condition as a health issue to what can at best be described as punitive psychological control of patients.

And today you will find Euro DSD publishing documents, most of which have titles starting with "Consensus Statement on." As I have pointed out before, the one thing that characterizes the Chicago Consensus Statement is the arbitrary manner with which they will assign a sex to a given condition, and this is designed to disregard what the patient may feel about it. I will go further and say that this protocol of arbitrary "sex assignments" has been purposefully designed to maximize the distress of the patient, forcing them to consult mental health professionals and thus making more money for said mental health professionals. Furthermore, they have made the prospect for their future victims so bad that their suicide will make savings for health insurers and healthcare providers. Simply put, talk is cheap and viable treatment costs money. Better then for healthcare providers and insurers to maximize profit by offering punitive "talking cures" and hoping that before actual cost enters the equation, the patient is dead.

I would like to see Dr. Olaf Hiort and Professor Euan Hughes (two leading specialists involved in the European side of all this) try to worm out of that accusation. Well, they don't have to, why? Because they constantly publish "consensus statements" which have been "agreed upon". A patient who is enduring a negative outcome will be subjected to deliberately damaging forms of mental "care", thus rendering their ability to question all this in the courts as good as impossible, and in this state they will then be put up against what is described as a "Scientific Consensus" which cannot be questioned.

Euro DSD is already enjoying a lot of funding from the European Union. Why? Because they have already conned the politicians into believing they have all the answers, but the truth is these "answers" are simply a means to alleviate the cost of health care and nothing else.

You have probably read this so far and sense that I am talking about conspiracies rather than a set of health care policies that appear to be badly thought out. Regardless of the underlying intent, the outcome will be as predicted because the level of anger among non affiliated patient groups is considerable. And affiliated patient groups have consistently been ignored and in some cases told by Bo Laurent, alias Charlie Sullivan, alias Cheryl Chase, alias Brian Sullivan and Bonnie Sullivan to avoid those organizations that disagree with the Chicago Consensus Statement. What makes this individual with more aliases than a con artist with a multiple personality disorder most interesting is the fact that “they” are currently an item via a civil partnership with someone who is involved with, wait for it, health insurance.

And just who ends up forming this "Consensus" anyway. Well, the well-heeled vultures who attend these "conferences" with charismatic grins on their faces presenting papers with titles like "Slicing, dicing, chopping, carving, hacking and liquidizing freakish brats in a Kenwood chef for the nation, an academic study of the misery we enjoy causing".

If you need proof of unethical intent, you need look no further than those conferences, organized by the likes of Hughes, Hiort, Morland and so on. They are nothing more than a pale imitation of a brainstorming session for a particularly sadistic reality TV show. Flapping around like bleached vultures talking about "sociomedical emergencies" while watching a PowerPoint presentation that involves very graphic images of carved up genitalia. Are these people ethical? I doubt it. Like the endocrinologist from Middlesex who is about to end up in court for telling "Maid Marion" about his interpretation of my medical history. Well, breaking confidentiality to defend the quack circle is not very clever.

This misuse of consensus statements is nothing new. In the 1930's they were very popular when defining who was "dysgenic" and who was therefore going to get gassed. The most important point to remember is that the Chicago Consensus Statement was little more than a total fraud, and the only people who really formed this "Consensus" were as Alice Dreger herself points out, those with "power": that is compliant parents and doctors seeking to make a fast buck.

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