Cognition & Reality

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Doc Martin And Medicalized Gambling

Filed under: Behavioral Genetics,Medical Morality — drtone @ 8:35 am

I like the British television show “Doc Martin” a great deal, although I object to much of the medicine the central character dispenses. Fortunately, the drama frequently unfolds in a way that shows Doc Martin to have made an incorrect diagnosis. Nevertheless, the show remainsl a conduit for misinformation and medical propaganda.

In the misinformation department, one show revolved around the near impossibility of two brown-eyed parents producing a blue-eyed child. The amazing part of this claim is that it made it onto “the telly” at all, because it gets the genetics backward. Anyone who has taken high school biology knows that, although two blue-eyed parents can’t ordinarily produce a brown-eyed child, two brown-eyed parents, both heterozygous for eye color, can produce a blue-eyed child. That’s how much the show’s creators know about genetics. Nothing.

That ignorance contextualizes the medical propaganda dispensed in the episode I just watched. In it, we discover that the obsession with lottery scratchers and online gambling that has been building in Doc Martin’s receptionist, Pauline, causes her serious financial harm. When Pauline’s mother berates her for her “weakness,” Doc Martin steps in and berates the mother, in turn, for her “ignorance.” Pauline does not have a gambling problem, he tells the mother, “it has her.” She “has a gambling addiction,” he goes on to say, and may have a “genetic propensity to addiction,” possibly inherited from the mother. To emphasize this last point, as Doc Martin completes his speech, Pauline announces that she has at that instant won some money online, causing the mother to scurry over to the computer, asking, “How much?” Pauline therefore is a gambling addict,  which is not her fault because she has genetic condition.

So the choice is between “depraved” and “ill.” Which do you prefer?



  1. You have hit on one of my pet peeves, that of “medical propaganda” on t.v. It would seem that even the most enlightened programs show people running to the hospitals when they are in trouble. Haven’t they heard the term “iatrogenic disease” yet??? That is diseases caused by doctors, their examination, their medicines, and treatments. That word is in the dictionary. Iatrogenic disease is somehow overlooked by most people who doggedly hope the invasive treatments of ill informed doctors and their incorrect diagnosis leveled against humanity. I watch these t.v. programs in horror actually. Why do so many people trust the untrustable? “Modern medicine” has a long way to go before it is any better than blood letting IMO. I know that my view on this matter is considered to be on the lunatic fringe and that my opinions about this are marginalized at best, but that doesn’t concern me.

    The other thing that I find abhorent in our society is the need for people to say that “genetics” is the reason for their irresponsible behavior. This unenlightened view of “why” we do things is a total cop out. To say that we do things that are corrupt or depraved as was stated in this blog because our ancestors drank or gambled away their money or were serial killers is a way of passing along a terrible lie to our children. We are responsible for our behavior, only ALL OF IT! Genetic propensities are a way to shine on the fundamental freedom of God given choice as our birthright. To say that “my genes made me do it” is like saying “the devil made me do it.” The theory of our genes being a problem in our moral development is utter hog wash. It is science gone wild with it’s own power.

    Science is a man made. God did not create science. Science is not bad, but it is misinformed, and has taken up residence in the minds of humanity as having some kind of saving value which it doesn’t posess.

    Caroline McKenna

    Comment by annie wallack — Sunday, 15 August 2010 @ 11:30 am | Reply

  2. Yes! “My genes made me do it” is no different from “the devil made me do it.” In an effort to evade the “evil” implications of our own behavior, we are willing, paradoxically, to transform it into an evil genie, over which we have no control. That this results from false doctrine is obvious, and the only reason people don’t realize that is that they afraid of their own demons. Consequently, our society seems to have handed over the moral steering wheel to a group uniquely unqualified to make moral judgments: physicians, who are deliberately trained to harden themselves to feeling.

    Comment by drtone — Sunday, 15 August 2010 @ 11:45 am | Reply

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