Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, philosophy and health care

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Cheyenne Psychologist And His Wife Sentenced To 37 Months In Prison For Health Care Fraud

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Wyoming
Press Release of December 4, 2018

John Robert Sink, Jr., 68, and Diane Marie Sink, 63, of Cheyenne, Wyoming, were sentenced on December 3, 2018, to serve 37 months in prison for making false statements as part of a scheme to fraudulently bill Wyoming Medicaid for mental health services, which were never provided, announced United States Attorney Mark A. Klaassen. The Sinks, who are married, were also ordered to pay over $6.2 million in restitution to the Wyoming Department of Health and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and to forfeit over $750,000 in assets traceable to the fraud, including cash, retirement accounts, vehicles, and a residence.

The Sinks were indicted in March 2018 by a federal grand jury for health care fraud, making false statements, and money laundering. At all times relevant to the indictment, John and Diane Sink operated a psychological practice in Cheyenne. John Sink, who was a licensed Ph.D. psychologist, directed mental health services. Diane Sink submitted bills to Wyoming Medicaid and managed the business and its employees. The Sinks provided services to developmentally disabled Medicaid beneficiaries and billed Medicaid for those services.

Between February 2012 and December 2016, the Sinks submitted bills to Wyoming Medicaid for $6.2 million in alleged group therapy. These bills were false and fraudulent because the services provided did not qualify as group therapy as defined by Wyoming Medicaid. The Sinks also falsely billed Medicaid for beneficiaries who were not participating in any activities, and therefore did not receive any of the claimed mental health services. When Wyoming Medicaid audited the Sinks in May 2016, the Sinks did not have necessary documentation to support their billing, so they ordered an employee to create backdated treatment plans. The Sinks then submitted these phony treatment plans to Wyoming Medicaid to justify the Sinks’ false group therapy bills, and to cover up their fraudulent billing scheme.

The pressor is here.

The ends justify the meanness: An investigation of psychopathic traits and utilitarian moral endorsement

JustinBalasha and Diana M.Falkenbach
Personality and Individual Differences
Volume 127, 1 June 2018, Pages 127-132

Abstract

Although psychopathy has traditionally been synonymous with immorality, little research exists on the ethical reasoning of psychopathic individuals. Recent examination of psychopathy and utilitarianism suggests that psychopaths' moral decision-making differs from nonpsychopaths (Koenigs et al., 2012). The current study examined the relationship between psychopathic traits (PPI-R, Lilienfeld & Widows, 2005; TriPM, Patrick, 2010) and utilitarian endorsement (moral dilemmas, Greene et al., 2001) in a college sample (n = 316). The relationships between utilitarian decisions and triarchic dimensions were explored and empathy and aggression were examined as mediating factors. Hypotheses were partially supported, with Disinhibition and Meanness traits relating to personal utilitarian decisions; aggression partially mediated the relationship between psychopathic traits and utilitarian endorsements. Implications and future directions are further discussed.

Highlights

• Authors examined the relationship between psychopathy and utilitarian decision-making.

• Empathy and aggression were explored as mediating factors.

• Disinhibition and Meanness were positively related to personal utilitarian decisions.

• Meanness, Coldheartedness, and PPI-R-II were associated with personal utilitarian decisions.

• Aggression partially mediated the relationship between psychopathy and utilitarian decisions.

The research can be found here.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Air Force Psychologist Found Guilty of Sexual Assault Under Guise of Exposure Therapy

Caitlin Foster
Business Insider
Originally published Dec. 10, 2018

A psychologist at Travis Air Force Base in California was found guilty on Friday of sexually assaulting military-officer patients who were seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, The Daily Republic reported.

Heath Sommer may face up to 11 years and eight months in prison after receiving a guilty verdict on six felony counts of sexual assault, according to the Republic.

Sommer used a treatment known as "exposure therapy" to lure his patients, who were military officers with previous sexual-assault experiences, into performing sexual activity, the Republic reported.

According to charges brought by Brian Roberts, the deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case, Sommer assaulted his patients through "fraudulent representation that the sexual penetration served a professional purpose when it served no professional purpose," the Republic reported.

The Amazing Ways Artificial Intelligence Is Transforming Genomics and Gene Editing

Bernard Marr
Forbes.com
Originally posted November 16, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

Another thing experts are working to resolve in the process of gene editing is how to prevent off-target effects—when the tools mistakenly work on the wrong gene because it looks similar to the target gene.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning help make gene editing initiatives more accurate, cheaper and easier.

The future for AI and gene technology is expected to include pharmacogenomics, genetic screening tools for newborns, enhancements to agriculture and more. While we can't predict the future, one thing is for sure: AI and machine learning will accelerate our understanding of our own genetic makeup and those of other living organisms.

The info is here.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The bad news on human nature, in 10 findings from psychology

Christian Jarrett
aeon.co
Originally published 

Here is an excerpt:

We are vain and overconfident. Our irrationality and dogmatism might not be so bad were they married to some humility and self-insight, but most of us walk about with inflated views of our abilities and qualities, such as our driving skills, intelligence and attractiveness – a phenomenon that’s been dubbed the Lake Wobegon Effect after the fictional town where ‘all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average’. Ironically, the least skilled among us are the most prone to overconfidence (the so-called Dunning-Kruger effect). This vain self-enhancement seems to be most extreme and irrational in the case of our morality, such as in how principled and fair we think we are. In fact, even jailed criminals think they are kinder, more trustworthy and honest than the average member of the public.

We are moral hypocrites. It pays to be wary of those who are the quickest and loudest in condemning the moral failings of others – the chances are that moral preachers are as guilty themselves, but take a far lighter view of their own transgressions. In one study, researchers found that people rated the exact same selfish behaviour (giving themselves the quicker and easier of two experimental tasks on offer) as being far less fair when perpetuated by others. Similarly, there is a long-studied phenomenon known as actor-observer asymmetry, which in part describes our tendency to attribute other people’s bad deeds, such as our partner’s infidelities, to their character, while attributing the same deeds performed by ourselves to the situation at hand. These self-serving double standards could even explain the common feeling that incivility is on the increase – recent research shows that we view the same acts of rudeness far more harshly when they are committed by strangers than by our friends or ourselves.


Saturday, January 12, 2019

Monitoring Moral Virtue: When the Moral Transgressions of In-Group Members Are Judged More Severely

Karim Bettache, Takeshi Hamamura, J.A. Idrissi, R.G.J. Amenyogbo, & C. Chiu
Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
First Published December 5, 2018
https://doi.org/10.1177/0022022118814687

Abstract

Literature indicates that people tend to judge the moral transgressions committed by out-group members more severely than those of in-group members. However, these transgressions often conflate a moral transgression with some form of intergroup harm. There is little research examining in-group versus out-group transgressions of harmless offenses, which violate moral standards that bind people together (binding foundations). As these moral standards center around group cohesiveness, a transgression committed by an in-group member may be judged more severely. The current research presented Dutch Muslims (Study 1), American Christians (Study 2), and Indian Hindus (Study 3) with a set of fictitious stories depicting harmless and harmful moral transgressions. Consistent with our expectations, participants who strongly identified with their religious community judged harmless moral offenses committed by in-group members, relative to out-group members, more severely. In contrast, this effect was absent when participants judged harmful moral transgressions. We discuss the implications of these results.

Friday, January 11, 2019

10 ways to detect health-care lies

Lawton R. Burns and Mark V. Pauly
thehill.com
Originally posted December 9, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

Why does this kind of behavior occur? While flat-out dishonesty for short-term financial gains is an obvious answer, a more common explanation is the need to say something positive when there is nothing positive to say.

This problem is acute in health care. Suppose you are faced with the assignment of solving the ageless dilemma of reducing costs while simultaneously raising quality of care. You could respond with a message of failure or a discussion of inevitable tradeoffs.

But you could also pick an idea with some internal plausibility and political appeal, fashion some careful but conditional language and announce the launch of your program. Of course, you will add that it will take a number of years before success appears, but you and your experts will argue for the idea in concept, with the details to be worked out later.

At minimum, unqualified acceptance of such proposed ideas, even (and especially) by apparently qualified people, will waste resources and will lead to enormous frustration for your audience of politicians and outraged critics of the current system. The incentives to generate falsehoods are not likely to diminish — if anything, rising spending and stagnant health outcomes strengthen them — so it is all the more important to have an accurate and fast way to detect and deter lies in health care.

The info is here.

The Seductive Diversion of ‘Solving’ Bias in Artificial Intelligence

Julia Powles
Medium.com
Originally posted December 7, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

There are three problems with this focus on A.I. bias. The first is that addressing bias as a computational problem obscures its root causes. Bias is a social problem, and seeking to solve it within the logic of automation is always going to be inadequate.

Second, even apparent success in tackling bias can have perverse consequences. Take the example of a facial recognition system that works poorly on women of color because of the group’s underrepresentation both in the training data and among system designers. Alleviating this problem by seeking to “equalize” representation merely co-opts designers in perfecting vast instruments of surveillance and classification.

When underlying systemic issues remain fundamentally untouched, the bias fighters simply render humans more machine readable, exposing minorities in particular to additional harms.

Third — and most dangerous and urgent of all — is the way in which the seductive controversy of A.I. bias, and the false allure of “solving” it, detracts from bigger, more pressing questions. Bias is real, but it’s also a captivating diversion.

The info is here.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

China Uses "Ethics" as Censorship

China sets up a video game ethics panel in its new approval process

Owen S. Good
www.polygon.com
Originally posted December 8, 2018

In China, it’s about ethics in video games.

The South China Morning Post reports that the nation now has an “Online Game Ethics Committee,” as a part of the government’s laborious process for game censorship approvals. China Central Television, the state’s broadcaster, said this ethics-in-games committee was formed to address national concerns over internet addiction, “unsuitable content” and childhood myopia (nearsightedness, apparently with video games as a cause?)

The state TV report said the committee has already looked at 20 games, rejecting nine and ruling that the other 11 have to change “certain content.” The titles of the games were not revealed.

The info is here.