Saturday, June 23, 2018

Vivisectors call for more transparency.... yeah, right.

Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there [sic] parents once they cross the Border into the U.S.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2018

Let's continue animal testing: America's scientific community
USA TODAY June 20, 2018

We call upon our country’s research institutions — large and small — to embrace openness. — Speaking of Research, et al.

USA Today’s headline slipped across the ethical journalism line. It is an example of what has become known as “fake news,” though in this case I doubt it was an intentional hoodwink. But implying that America’s “scientific community” had reached some sort of consensus on the use of animals was frankly wrong.

It’s hard to know how many people there are in the U.S. who should be counted when thinking about the “scientific community,” but it’s a whole lot more than the roughly 500 people who have signed the letter (as of 6-22-2018). Most of those who have signed are involved in the use of animals; of course they want to keep using animals. Quite clearly, the scientific community hasn’t voted in favor of using animals, but maybe a majority might be in favor of greater transparency, but there is no way to know at the moment.

What can be said unequivocally is that the labs generally keep the ugly details of what they do to animals hidden from the public. They started doing this big-time more than a century ago. See for instance, Lederer, Susan E. "Political animals: The shaping of biomedical research literature in twentieth-century America." Isis 83, no. 1 (1992): 61-79.

A minuscule sliver of the scientific community signed a letter that said in part: “We call upon our country’s research institutions — large and small — to embrace openness. We should proudly explain how animals are used for the advancement of science and medicine, in the interest of the wellbeing of humans and animals.” Indeed.

Peta commented on the letter saying it welcomed the call for transparency. “We urge animal experimenters to video everything they do, from inducing heart attacks in dogs to shocking the feet of mice to cutting open the skulls of monkeys, and release it to the public that funds most of it. We ask them to be open about the fact that 90% of animal studies fail to lead to treatment for humans and to explain why they still use animals in drug research when 95% of new drugs that test safe and effective in animals fail in human trials.”

I have to laugh at the vivisectors' sugary call for greater openness. As of June 23, the directors of six of the seven NIH National Primate Research Centers (Nancy L. Haigwood, R. Paul Johnson, Jon E. Levine, John H Morrison, Jay Rappaport, Sally Thompson-Iritani) has signed on. Only Robert E. Lanford, director of Southwest is missing.

They know full well that they are the ones keeping the public from seeing what is going on in the labs. Implying otherwise is no different than Trump saying that he wishes children didn’t have to be taken from the parents.

Thinking only about the six NIH Primate Center directors who are calling for an embrace of openness, I have a couple easy suggestions for them.

1. When someone asks for a copy of a video or photograph, give it to them.

2. Better yet, put all your video footage and photographs on line.

3. Make your daily care logs accessible to the public.

4. Advertise the time and place of your IACUC meetings. Make sure they are open to the public. Make the minutes publicly available.

There is no reason they can’t do these things any more than Trump couldn’t order a halt to separating children from the parents.

I’ve got $100 that says none of them will.

Like many other claims about their use of animals, this one rings hollow; it appears to be simple propaganda intended to mislead the public about the morality of the participants in their cruel and lucrative profession.

I mention an example of the videos they could easily put on line in my essay, “The Future of Primate Vivisection.” (4-15-2017)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Through the looking glass, or, holy cow, I'm an FBI fan now.

I wanted to vote for Jill Stein. And I understand why many voted for her or Bernie Sanders. But, as I repeatedly said on Facebook, it wasn't a normal race. As the election neared, I commented quite a bit on this; I've included some below and have added a few links where it appears I was correct in my concern and worry:
Votes matter. Individuals vote. I believe Trump could turn out to be Hitler: Moslems and Hispanics rounded up and put in internment camps, deported, that a Trump presidency would give free reign to the KKK, to white supremacy, that things would be off-the-chart bad for animals, the planet... if you live in a state where the outcome isn't absolutely certain and you don't vote for slime-ball dishonest Hillary, you own the the Trump presidency.
I think its OK to vote for Stein if the polls show a high likelihood that Trump won't win your state. I will as well if the polls show a strong likelihood that he isn't going to win Wisconsin. Anything near the MOE and the risk is just too great.
I vote Green and progressive when given the opportunity, but things are a little different this time. It does not seem true to me that Stein could win if only those who don't want either Hillary or Trump would vote for her. First, I don't believe that very many people support Trump because they don't want Hillary. Trump's supporters seem to be sold on racism and authoritarianism. His 40% looks solid to me. Second, only some of Hillary's supporters, people like me, do so because we fear Trump is Hitler. A significant percentage of her supporters are the real deal; they genuinely want her to be President, and would vote for her no matter who she runs against. If Trump's 40% is solid, and if only half of Hilary's is, then there simply aren't enough votes out there to elect Stein, even if everyone like me put fear behind us. If we were to do so, it looks like a plain fact to me that Trump would win.
Yep. internment camps for Mexicans and Moslems, musing about using nuclear weapons, the strong support by police and military, that stuff scares the hell out of me. Enough to vote for a lying piece of shit who will change nothing.
If you live in a state that is clearly going one way or the other, definitely vote for Stein. It you are in a toss-up state one must be pragmatic and help stop Hitler.
Lying sack of shit or Hitler... I'm forced to go with the shit.
And seemingly, at least some people in the FBI also thought, correctly, that Trump would be a danger to the better things about America. And that brings me to wondering what an FBI insider should do, or should have done, if they see a neo-Hitler rising to power.

I never imagined that I would be rooting for the FBI, the agency's history is so very dark; it has actively opposed many of the things I believe are the leading edge of progress. But here I am.

I've truly stepped through the looking glass. We've got picture of Robert Mueller on our refrigerator along with a prayer for his well-being. He was the Director of the FBI from 2001 to 2013, when agents were running amok, and targeting animal rights activists. Crazy.

Trump's base is in convulsions. Peter Strzok and Lisa Page's texts in the DOJ Inspector General's report make it clear that they too were alarmed at the prospect of Trump winning the election. Strzok seemingly had input and some control of the direction of the Clinton email probe and the Russia collusion investigation. The sometimes-rational Chair of the House Oversight Committee, Trey Gowdy, was beside himself that Strzok had been involved.

That begs the question, are FBI investigations always staffed by neutral agents? Obviously not. And do FBI agents and other law enforcement personnel prejudge the subjects of their investigations? Of course they do. It would be absurd to think otherwise, and yet, that seems to be what Congressman Gowdy was claiming in his harangue.

And that brings me to the point of this essay: law enforcement officers of all sorts, military officers, FBI and CIA agents, exactly the people I worry are sometimes attracted to their chosen professions because of a lust for power, who might be attracted to the notion of totalitarianism, are also those who will have to act independently and with principle should a Hitler-like person seem to be coming to power in the U.S. And to the degree that they might believe this to be the case, they will have to be counted on to take some affirmative steps to stop him or her. To the degree that Strzok was motivated by a genuine fear that Trump could be a neo-Hitler, I think he is to be thanked.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

More on the Academy's Failure

I pointed to the parallel between colonial colleges' and universities' involvement in the slavery of black people and modern colleges' and universities' involvement in the use of animals in a previous essay, "The Academy’s Failure." The academy is much more than just colleges and universities of course. It also includes all those academic institutions that spring from them or that directly direct support them. Two of those are public broadcasting and libraries.

I'm actually a big fan of both, but they are diminished by their embrace of the academy's normalization of cruelty to animals and their self-censorship of the opposing philosophy.

There is a risk in referring to institutions in this way because the term is an abstraction. They are collections of people. It is people within the institutions who are bigots, who defend the party line, who promote harm to animals, or who champion their consumption. Not everyone within one of the institutions that comprise academia are to blame, though all them have a moral obligation to speak out when they learn that their institution is.

On my way home from work, I was listening to NPR news on my local member station, Wisconsin Public Radio. They were reporting on the suicide of Anthony Bourdain, writer, chef, and TV host. They characterized him as kind and compassionate. Across most media his death is being lamented as a great loss with no mention of his influence on the perception of animals. From the animals' perspective, he was a monster. His celebrity was seemingly enough to dissuade NPR from mentioning his loud disregard for animals and criticism of those who care about them. A disregard for animals is rooted in the academy's culture.

Bourdain was a winner of a Peabody Award, a prestigious annual honor for the "most powerful, enlightening, and invigorating stories in television, radio, and online media," for his show "Parts Unknown," a "culinary travelogue." Maybe the Peabody Board of Jurors were invigorated by watching Bourdain chewing out the brain of a live octopus. The Peabody Award organization is located on the University of Georgia campus.

Another Peabody winner is Wisconsin Public Radio's "To the Best of Our Knowledge," which the Peabody Award says is "the consummate audio magazine of ideas and oddities for people with curious minds." One of the producers and interviewers is Anne Strainchamps. On March 28, 2018, Ms. Strangechamps had a live interview with UW-Madison Professor Richard Davidson, sponsored by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters.

Davidson's public shtick is his claim that his friendship with the Dalai Lama and his meditation have taught him how to be happier. He always throws in something about compassion and mindfulness. He is a local celebrity that the Birkenstock-Whole Foods crowd can't get enough of. When playing the guru, he never mentions his long collaboration with Ned Kalin. Kalin and Davidson discovered a way to identify particularly anxious and fearful monkeys with a brain scan. Davidson has been the Director of Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging & Behavior, University of Wisconsin-Madison for a number of years; Kalin is the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry. Their collaboration has resulted in the publication of more than 30 papers since 1992 documenting their highly invasive and on-going experiments on young monkeys with these characteristics.

I wrote a polite letter to Ms. Strainchamps asking her to ask Davidson about the mismatch between his claim that thinking about being compassionate and kind while meditating would make one happier, and his history of frightening and killing young fearful monkeys. I included a bibliography in the letter. I never heard back, and she did not ask him about this contradiction.

Her interview with Davidson was probably driven by the release of his book, Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body (Avery, 2017.)

It was somewhere around ten years ago that I got in contact with NPR's Ombudsperson. I don't recall her name. I talked to her about Wisconsin Public Radio's biased reporting or absence of reporting about the university's use of animals and federal violations of animal welfare laws. She acknowledged that NPR understood that university-based public radio stations censored their own reporting. She lamented the fact that they didn't know how to fix the problem. It is still a problem. According to NPR, about two-thirds of their 900 member and affiliated stations are licensed to, or are affiliated with, colleges or universities.

Davidson promoted the book again at a talk sponsored by local library a short time later.

When I learned of that talk, I again wrote ahead of time and addressed by concerns to Jocelyne Sansing, Library Director and Jim Ramsey, Head of Adult Services, Middleton Public Library. Middleton is an upscale community just a few minutes from the university. I again provided a bibliography and pointed to a few of his public claims about meditation making you more compassionate. I wrote:
I believe, and hope you do too, that public libraries have some pretty strong obligations to the public. It seems to me that one of these is the avoidance of knowingly misleading them. Unless the audience of the upcoming Scholar'd for Life event know the scope of Dr. Davidson’s work, it is likely that they will come away with a misunderstanding or false impression of the effects that Davidson’s personal experience with meditation have had on him. He is in fact, proof that meditation may not make one a more compassionate person.
And again, I didn't hear back and assume that they kept quiet.

I once held librarians in much regard. But in 2002, I began asking for a copy of videos made during one one of Ned Kalin's experiments. The university refused. I and colleagues asked for them a few more times and then asked a local reporter to ask for them, at which point the university destroyed them.

At the time, the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, a part of the university, was the site of the Lawrence Jacobsen Library, also known as the Primate Center Library. The library was the site of an archive of primate research history. I wrote to the university library, the Wisconsin Library Association, and the National Library Association about this blatant destruction of public records.

January 1, 2007

Wisconsin Library Association 5250 East Terrace Drive, Suite A Madison WI 53718-8345

Dear WLA and the Intellectual Freedom Round Table:

I am writing to complain about an instance of censorship of information that may have, and should have, involved University of Wisconsin librarians.

Attached, is an article from the Isthmus that provides some details of the situation. (Primate tapes get trashed, 08/11/2006.)

Briefly: the university denied public records requests for information held by the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center. Sixty-two days after one denial, documents, photographs, and sixty boxes of videotapes were destroyed by the primate center.

This matter should be of concern to the WLA for at least two reasons.

1. Important historical documents and unique visual records have been lost forever through an act of intentional destruction carried out under the auspices of the University of Wisconsin even as members of the public were asking for that information.

2. The Lawrence Jacobsen Library is housed at the primate center. It is a part of the primate center and a part of the University of Wisconsin General Library System. The library violated its mission when it chose not to collect this unique collection of information regarding research occurring at its own institution:
The Wisconsin Primate Research Center Library and Information Service supports the research and outreach missions of the National Primate Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison. The library acquires, organizes, develops, provides access to, and delivers information resources in a variety of formats to Center scientists and staff, University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty and students, and persons worldwide with an interest in primatology. Essential to this mission is the effort to comprehensively collect and provide access to print, audiovisual and digital materials related to nonhuman primates in research, conservation, education, and veterinary care.
The mission of the June Northrop Barker Archives, part of the Lawrence Jacobson Library:
The June Northrop Barker Archives serves to enrich and support the cross-disciplinary field of Primatology by acting as a repository for the history and science of this emerging field. To do this, the Barker Archives solicits, collects, organizes, describes, preserves and provides access to the research and historical documents, as well as the records of the international, national and regional organizations related to the field of Primatology.
The destruction of these documents, photographs, and sixty boxes of videotapes is grossly at odds with the library’s mission. Even if the tapes were damaged, the librarians should still have saved, repaired, and archived that information, and made it available to the library’s present and future users.

So much unique information has been irretrievably lost to the public – to say nothing of the loss to history and science – while these librarians either did nothing to prevent this loss or have remained silent after the fact.

The librarians at the Lawrence Jacobsen Library violated a fundamental professional ethic of the field of librarianship:
The American Library Association defines intellectual freedom, a fundamental professional ethic of the field of librarianship, as the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored. Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas.
These librarians did not advocate for the intellectual rights of those seeking the information. The destruction of this information raised barriers to an exploration of all sides of the question of primates in research and animal rights. The Lawrence Jacobsen Library may not have been able to stop the destruction of this information, but book burning is book burning, and librarians must call attention to it wherever it occurs.

I did not hear back.

It seems to me that the academy has not changed very much since the time it was so heavily invested in the slave industry and was promoting and defending the destruction of the Indian nations. The evidence is overwhelming that animals have minds, emotions, see into the future, have inner lives and desires, and that the academy is working around the clock against their interests.

A few years ago, friends and I met with then Wisconsin's Senator Russ Feingold to talk to him about federal funding for experiments on monkeys. He was somewhat sympathetic and was disturbed by the undercover video we showed him of animals being used at Covance. But when we brought up the subject of federal limits on the sort of experiments that should be allowed, he jumped immediately to a defense of academic freedom. He was unable to see or chose not to see the parallels between the results of academic freedom in Nazi Germany and what is happening in American labs today.

Like our idiot-king, the academy is above the law and outside the bounds of morality.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Academy’s Failure

African slavery was thriving in the new college towns…. The ubiquity and persistence of servitude on both sides of the college wall was not a mere coincidence of the colonial academy’s location in the greater Atlantic economy. Human slavery was the precondition for the rise of higher education in the Americas. (Wilder. p. 114)
How should we judge the academy?

Should the number of scholarly papers produced by its members be a factor in our judgment? Should the number of degrees conferred be the measure?

Has the academy made the world a better place? If so, for whom?

As the title of my essay makes clear, I think higher education and the institutions that purport to provide it have largely been failures if success is measured by the state of world affairs, our quality of life, and our relationship with others on the planet.

It’s true that some of our technological marvels are the result of advanced studies, but it is less clear that our lives are actually better because of them. Different than they otherwise would have been, but maybe not better.

There is ample research, thanks to the academy, that shows that people living in pre-industrial societies sometimes lead more leisurely lives with less stress, and even less illness. [Gurven, Michael, and Hillard Kaplan. "Longevity among hunter‐gatherers: a cross‐cultural examination." Population and Development review 33.2 (2007): 321-365. Raichlen, David A., et al. "Physical activity patterns and biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk in hunter‐gatherers." American Journal of Human Biology 29.2 (2017).]

I’d been thinking about the academy's detrimental effects on society when I happened upon the book Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities. [Wilder, Craig Steven. Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2013.]

The briefest summation of the author’s theme is that the wealth of many American universities today is the result of their first 200 years of immense profit from slavery and the confiscation of the Indians’ lands.

Author Craig Wilder makes the case that America’s early wealth was the result of stealing the Indians’ lands, trading in African slaves, and the use of slaves in lucrative, labor-intensive businesses. Colleges and universities got rich by promoting the world view that black people and Indians were much less deserving than whites; some argued that black people were an altogether different species. Graduates became academic, religious and political leaders, invested in the slave trade, owned slaves, took the Indians’ lands, destroyed their cultures, killed them, and reaped enormous financial benefit.
... to the extent that science supplanted theology, it eroded ecclesiastical control over the academy. But if science could be used to displace theology by claiming a superior position for understanding human history and social relations, then it could also be impressed into the service of slavery. In fact, the politics of slavery hastened the ascent of the academy in public affairs. (Wilder. pp 225-226)
It seems to me that much that has gone wrong in the world and our slow social progress is the result of academia defending the status quo. This seems to me to be the opposite of what we should expect from those who have graduated from an institution purporting to deliver higher learning.

Racial integration probably would have occurred much sooner if colleges and universities had been a part of the vanguard of equality rather than acting as guards at the doors. Indian nations would still exist if money had been less important than others’ interests and sovereignty. The academy defended the status quo and promoted the financial interests of its members and its member institutions over the interests of those less powerful, and it continues doing so today.

More of us might be happier, our quality of life better, if education had been more focused on instilling an appreciation for leisure, charity, and a concern for those with whom we share the planet. More of us might be happier, our quality of life better, if higher education instilled a desire to be of direct service to others, to put the interests of others before our own. More of us might be happier, our quality of life better, if kindness to others was more important to us, if we were taught to be kind to others, to take notice of the needs of others, and to care about those who will come after us. This has always been what the academy’s job should have been; it is what it should be.

It is unlikely that someone familiar with the academy’s use of animals -- its promotion of their consumption and use and the riches it accrues by doing so -- would miss the strong parallels in the academy’s past use of humans.

Wilder writes:
The transition to a more focused scientific racism required not a leap but a casual step. The institutionalization of medicine -- the organization of science faculties and medical colleges in the colonies -- happened as slave owners, planters, land speculators, and Atlantic merchants began sponsoring scientific research. The families who paid for the establishment of medical schools and science faculties also oversaw those developments. The founding of medical colleges on American campuses brought science, particularly the human sciences, under the political and financial dominion of slave traders, slave owners and their surrogates. ... As slaveholders and slave traders paid for medical colleges and science faculties, they also imposed subtle and severe controls on science. (p 228)
Today, the largest universities are getting much if not most of their money from the U.S. government in the form of research grants, and a large part of that pays for experiments on animals. And just like scholars in the slave-trade-dependent colonial Americas did, they defend the indefensible with appeals to the superiority of a chosen group and claims that utility and profit justify generations of pain and suffering.

The moral failures of the academy are particularly striking because of its assertion of its authority.
The academy refined and legitimated the social ideas that supported territorial expansion, a process that transformed the people of the new nation from revolutionaries to imperialists. … Colonial students had been crowding the medical and science programs of Europe for two generations… Students from North America crafter a science that justified expansionism and slavery—a science that generated broad clams to expertise over colored people and thrived upon unlimited access to nonwhite bodies. (Wilder. p 182)
We are seemingly genetically programmed to follow a leader, to trust an authority. This seems to be a somewhat common pattern in social mammals. Human society is largely a pyramid of authority, or interlocking chains of command, as our structuring of the military, government, and nearly all large ventures recapitulate.

As a consequence, prejudices, biases, mistaken notions get amplified and reinforced when they are endorsed at multiple levels of the authority pyramid. Broadcast and print media routinely call attention to and accept the claims of those in academia. When authoritative news outlets point to the opinions of scholars, mistakes and prejudices can become normative facts.

This was clearly the case in the broadly held belief that white Europeans were destined and ordained to subjugate black people and take the Indians’ lands. Our destiny was manifest.
In the decades before the Civil War, American scholars claimed a new republic role as the racial guardians of the United States. They interpreted race science into national social policy to construct the biological basis of citizenship and to assert that the very presence of nonwhite and non-Christian peoples threatened the republic. They laid the intellectual foundations for a century of exclusion and removal campaigns. The intellectual roots of the cyclical political and social assaults on Native Americans, African Americans, Jews, Irish, and Asians can be traced back to this scholarly obsession with race. (Wilder. pp 272-273)
One, maybe the main reason prejudices, biases, and mistaken notions endure and are accepted as plain fact by those in academia is money. We, no matter our titles, are easily swayed and convinced by authority and money; they blind us. When it comes to the use of animals on university farms and in their labs, cash-caused blindness is a universal affliction.

Just as the antebellum colleges and universities embraced slavery and taking the Indians’ lands, today’s colleges and universities embrace all manner of torture and cruelty because of the money and subsequent power and prestige that flow from it.

Scholars supported by these riches are unable to see or unwilling to acknowledge what is in front of them; and because these riches have become the lifeblood of the academy, even scholars in non-animal areas of study and senior administrators are wedded to it and find ways to convince themselves that they are in some meaningful way unlike their bigoted predecessors.

Maybe those from within the academy can’t, or refuse to see, who they are hurting or who is being hurt by their silence or arguments. One standard moral defense for hurting, killing, or eating other animals is that they are so different from us that their suffering is so different that it doesn’t matter very much. Or, even if they suffer, the benefit to us -- what we might learn, the taste of their flesh, the spectacle of their fights -- are more important than the detriment to them.

There are other possible reasons for so many highly educated people not caring about hurting and killing others. One likely dark explanation is that they like it.

The idea that many people, a significant proportion of us at any rate, like to see others hurt and killed is unsettling, but it explains a lot. Paul Bloom, a professor of psychology at Yale, wrote in The New Yorker, “The thesis that viewing others as objects or animals enables our very worse conduct would seem to explain a great deal. Yet there is reason to think that it’s almost the opposite of the truth.”

I think Bloom is correct that we don’t first or need to de-humanize people before abusing them, but he did not stop to ponder the fact that to a large degree people like to see animals hurt and killed because they attribute human emotional and mental characteristics to them. They gain enjoyment by “humanizing” them, or by acknowledging their mental or emotional similarity to us. Dogs in staged fights are called smart or stupid; bulls are noble; rabbits enjoy life.

Some in the academy have made it clear that it is the strong similarities between us and other animals that motivates them to hurt and kill them.
“Animals do a lot of things instinctively…. But people--and probably monkeys--have the ability to think 20 steps into the future: `In the end I'm going to feel great, because I worked hard to get there,' or `I'm going to get a lot of credit for this.' It's the prefrontal cortex that brings those emotions into play and guides us in our behavior. If we didn't have a sense of what would be wonderful or awful in the future, we would behave very haphazardly.” -- Ned Kalin (UW primate vivisector) in Wired For Sadness. Discover. April, 2000.
The academy was corrupted centuries ago by money; it has never recovered. I don’t think it can be fixed without a revolution. But that revolution will not occur as long as people within the academy are afraid to speak out. I’ve known senior researchers who are opposed to the terrible things done to animals at their institutions but who are afraid to voice their concerns openly for fear of the risk to their own research. Similarly, I’ve known students and employees at all levels of study and authority who also are afraid to voice their concerns publicly because they fear the repercussions. These people are the small minority. They recognize the unlikelihood of being able to change the culture; a culture rooted in exploiting animals.

The needed revolution will not occur for as long as the authority of the academy lends its influence to the corrupt notion that animals are here for our eating and any uses we might imagine.

As long as the good life and success are measured by wealth and power, we will continue down the road we are on -- blundering head-long into an overheated world devoid of clean water, clean air, most wild animals and overflowing with hungry self-centered humans. We could change course, and many people are trying to nudge the runaway train onto a different track. The academy could help, it could take the lead. But that would require many people in the less economically productive schools in the academy usurping power, and it is hard to see how that could happen very easily, especially since they were taught to believe that the good life and success are measured by wealth and power and that authority is determined by the degrees conferred upon a member.