The Consequence of Institutional Evil

It is difficult to think about an institution being evil, unless of course we are thinking about institutions that operate outside of the law.  But what about an institution that operates inside of the law, is it still evil?  Before you dive right into this article perhaps you would like a lighter, easier to read understanding – then I would suggest that you read my post from November 21, 2009 Super Duper Vitamin D3!!

To get a better understanding of how evil manifests itself in institutions, I would like to turn to my favorite expert psychiatrist in this area M. Scott Peck, MD well known for his book A Road Less Traveled. This book is a best seller and has sold over six million copies, but less known is his book People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil, Simon and Shuster 1983, was a best seller in Japan.  M. Scott Peck died Sept. 25, 2005 at his home in Warren, Conn.  Dr. Peck was 69 and had Parkinson’s disease as well as pancreatic and liver duct cancer.  Wonder if vitamin D deficiency was an issue?

We all recognize individual evil and how it can be manifested as narcissism or malignant self love.  That is a person that cares only about himself without empathy for others.  Institutional evil as described by Dr. Peck arises when an institution only cares about its survival without empathy for the individual.  In institutions, this develops because of specialization without a clear understanding of who is responsible for the moral compass.  Each member of the group does his specialized job without considering the outcome of what it means for the institution and the individuals that are served.  So the scientist researches, practitioners practice, and leaders lead.  Each is assuming that the other has the individual in mind.  We now jump to what happened with the IoM’s Food and Nutrition Board on Vitamin D and Calcium.

The FNB was given the responsibility to give an opinion based on the new research for the many diseases linked to vitamin D and what directions should be given to the general population by the government institutions of health in both the US and Canada.  The FNB members felt no responsibility for individuals except in bone health and stated so in their report.  Could it be that they did not realize that the popular press and the NIH would use this as general guidelines for the entire population?  This included suggesting that there was no need for a serum 25(OH)D level above 50 ng/ml,  and levels higher than that could be risky.  What is interesting about this last statement is that people in sunny countries have serum 25(OH)D levels that range from 50 to 90 ng/ml and yet the epidemiological studies show that many diseases are less prevalent in these sunny countries.  This includes many types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, as well as many types of mental illness.  Since the FNB stated they considered bone health only, they felt no responsibility to individuals for preventing other diseases.  It has been left up to the individual doctor, responsible for following the medical guidelines, which are defined by Health and Human Services based on the FNB report.  Ah, the circularity in the logic of preventing disease and maintaining empathy for individuals.

Jump again to my friend that just recently had a stroke.  I suggested to him that he should to try to maintain his serum 25(OH)D level between 50 and 90 ng/ml as this was common for a sunny country and was most likely his summertime level as he loves to go into the sun.  The long time standards for serum 25(OH)D has been between 20 to 100 ng/ml for several decades.  Higher levels of vitamin D have been shown by medical studies to result in less strokes and heart disease.  He had just read a news article that said anything greater than 50 ng/ml might be risky.  He decided not to supplement or to go into the sun.  When he dies of a stroke or a heart attack, it will just be written off as another victim of chronic disease.  My heart breaks for the millions that have been misled by the newspapers and the scientist just specializing in what they do.  – Pandemic Survivor


5 thoughts on “The Consequence of Institutional Evil

  1. Richard, I thought of another way to explain what I am trying to say. What is the cause of childhood obesity? Answer: Mothers who make their children eat everything on the plate, mothers who offer treats when their children are good, and mothers who act as if giving more food is equivalent to giving more love. We all know obesity is the root cause behind much illness and death, and by the legal doctrine of strict liability, a compelling argument could be made that mothers, though well intentioned, cause untold misery. So does that make mothers of obese children evil? Misguided, yes, but I would not say evil. The exact same line of thought applies to the Food and Nutrition Board and their extremely unfortunate DRI recommendation for vitamin D.

  2. Richard, thank you for your excellent observations. It has been said the way to select an accountant is to ask, “how much is 2 plus 2?” If the answer is, “how much would you like it to be?”, that’s the accountant you want. Similarly, the FNB can justify and support a wide range of answers when asked what serum level of 25(OH)D should we all have, and what should be designated as the dietary reference intake (DRI) of vitamin D3.

    John Cannell’s claim about Hector Deluca’s conflict of interest is clearly evident in the public record. A cursory patent search reveals 495 patents naming Dr. Deluca as co-inventor, the vast majority of which involve vitamin D compounds, analogues, and processes. The conflict of interest is undeniable.

    The question remains how this conflict of interest swayed the FNB. Did Deluca steer the FNB to the low end of the DRI debate? What would have been the DRI had it not been for Deluca’s input? If the FNB allows itself to be buffaloed, does that make them evil? Was there any chicanery or unsportsmanlike conduct taking place at FNB meetings?

    The details will provide the basic information necessary to determine if the FNB is evil. Please keep in mind, I was present at the FNB meeting in Washington for their August 2009 meeting, got to speak to some of the FNB members personally, and made mental notes of the questions they asked and comments they made. As originally asserted, I believe most of them had good intentions even though the outcome is stained with treachery. Richard, I think you and I agree 90%, and the 10% where we disagree is just splitting hairs and playing with semantics.

    As a postscript, I met John Cannell in 2007. I drove to Atascadero and we had lunch at his favorite place specifically to talk about vitamin D. He shared many insights about inherent conflicts facing big pharma, the FDA, how the specter of medical malpractice influences the practice of medicine, and how philosophical quandaries affect outcomes of medical research. Needless to say, it was a fascinating conversation that propelled my understanding of vitamin D light-years ahead.

  3. Mark, Rich,
    Hopefully you are both aware of Dr. John Cannell and the Vitamin D Council ( Regardless, He and his site are well respected in the “Vitamin D community”. Contrary to your opinions that the FNB was trying to do the right thing, he presents information that true evil is at work. Why else would this be: “…the FNB’s proclamation that the 12 expert critiques by the top vitamin D experts in the world are – and will remain – secret, beyond the reach of Federal Freedom of Information Laws.” Read on….

    Just yesterday Cannell published an article that shows that true evil was probably at work in the IOM’s FNB report on Vitamin D. It’s titled “Betrayal of a Nation: Why U.S. health authorities are keeping you vitamin D deficient and who stands to gain”.
    Strangely, it was “published” on an alternative health website, not on the Councils’ site. However, double checking on the Councils FaceBook page it is legit. Cannell asserts that bigpharma is in a frenzy trying to develop patentable vitamin D analogue drugs. In the meantime, they want to keep the definition of deficiency low. Once the drugs are available I’m sure everyone will be defined as deficient and in need of the drug which they will get at a very high price (just like LDL and the Statin drugs). In the meantime, as you can guess, millions will die for lack of Vitamin D. If that isn’t evil, I don’t know what is!

    My conclusion after many years of observation is that there is just way too much money involved in “health care” for anything to be honest. Another recent example is “Autism and Vaccines Researcher for CDC, Indicted for Fraud and Money-Laundering”

    Corruption abounds! There is just way too much money involved for this NOT to be the case.

  4. Rich,
    You are absolutely right. The intent of the committee and most scientist is to not be evil. The point that I was making was to show that through specialization evil manifest itself in institutions. This is also the point made by M. Scott Peck in his book. Science has long moved toward specialization with the moral consequences being left to the leaders. In this case the leader is the President of the US, Congress, and the Supreme Court. They, most likely, has left the moral responsibility to others which is a mistake. The tail does not wag the dog. The question is: Will more harm be done to a healthy society which has a smaller economy because of significantly reduced health care sector. It is a tough decision. Someone has to look at the big picture. This same thing is presently happening in the energy sector of the economy. There is no intent to be evil, but maintaining strong organizations without empathy toward the individuals that it serves leads to evil. All members of organizations most take some responsibility toward moral consequence. Peck uses the My Lai Massacre from Vietnam as his example. It was not the intent of the solders to be evil but through specialization as solders, their job was to maintain the integrity of the unit at all cost. They killed many innocent villagers to accomplish their orders. A scientist job is to maintain the health of the organization that he works for, and if not, he does not have a job. In the case of vitamin D, the science is beyond the scope of the everyday person. We rely on our experts. Individuals can only make sound decisions when given all of the information. The news organizations did not state that the IoM report was based on bone health only. This was cover for the scientist to maintain integrity, but what about the moral consequence. Thanks for the commentary.

  5. Mark – You brought up several important points about the role of the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. I’d like to address the question if this august body can rightfully be called “evil”. For starters, you and I are in complete agreement about the natural consequences of their findings; that is, a continuation of a failed public policy that does nothing to bring down the atrociously high rates of chronic disease through safe, simple, inexpensive interventions like vitamin D. Vitamin D’s therapeutic value has been proven time and time again in numerous clinical studies, and your underlying facts are irrefutable.

    BUT what was the IoM’s mission and did they properly persue it? The IoM strictly follows the doctrine of evidence-based medicine (or EBM) which dictates looking only at relevant research results reported in peer-reviewed medical journals. They recognize there are opinions or hearsay, there is anecdotal evidence, and there are even conclusions based on observational cohort studies. But all of these are subject to confounding factors that cloud the true cause and effect relationships. Or to state it the more common way, correlation does not imply causation. Did the IoM follow the strict guidelines to the letter? I would say they did. Did those guidelines provide conclusions that give the public the rightful, proper, and appropriate benefits of vitamin D supplementation? The IoM gets an F minus on that count. Will people suffer needlessly and die prematurely due to the IoM using the wrong approach? Yes, by the hundreds of thousands in the US alone. So is the IoM evil? That’s a harder question to answer.

    I know for a fact that the 14 members of the Food and Nutrioton Board are caring, dedicated, well-meaning, well-educated scientists who genuinely want to do the right thing. But they were clearly guilty of being stuck in a pharmaceutical paradigm that doesn’t apply to nutrition and prevention. Many of the 1.5 million people who die annually in the US due to chronic disease could have been spared if the IoM followed the more appropriate doctrine of “functional medicine”. I could make a compelling case the FNB’s ignorance, arrogance, and stubbornness unquestionably will bring premature death or extremely heartbreaking medical conditions to millions of Americans, but I’m on the fence whether or not I would say they are evil.

    There is maybe an underlying message in all this. You can’t depend on the IoM to make correct decisions. And so it follows you can’t depend on your doctor who looks to the IoM to establish the “standard of care” which guides all physicians. If you are lucky enough to have a doctor who already “gets it” about vitamin D or who is open enough to be educated by patients on the need to test for vitamin D deficiency and prescribe supplements to bring patients about the magic 50 ng/mL level, you will benefit handsomely. Also if you do your own homework by following the recommendations of this blog along with,, the Vitamin D Council, and a few others, you will stack the deck strongly in your favor. The key here is you MUST accept the responsibilty to educate yourself and take the positive steps needed to optimize your health. Depending on others is a crap shoot at best. This will become clear, obvious, and irrefutable one day in the future and it is the job of each of us to decide what side of the bell curve we chose for oursevles. I have staked my claim at 75 ng/mL, the statistical rattail well above 99% of the population. Like you, I feel bad for those who suffer, but remember, they chose that path. Mark, you have done a huge service to humanity in providing essential information, along with the dedicated scientists, authors, and journalists who have embraced the cause of vitamin D. But you can only do so much. Individuals must decide for themselves. Let’s hope and pray they choose wisely.

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