A journalist on lessons from his Theranos takedown


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/09/30/a-journalist-on-lessons-from-h.html


It doesn’t seem like much of an expose. Maybe it would help if I was in on the Silicon Valley gossip, but this article was really brief and short on details. I’m still not sure exactly what the problem was - a blood test that didn’t work well? And a woman with the audacity to wear black turtlenecks?


What is she saying in that gif? I can’t quite make it out, either because of the head tilt or because I suck at reading lips. :stuck_out_tongue:


“Who is John Galt?” “Who is John Galt?” “Who is John Galt?” “Who is John Galt?” “Who is John Galt?” “Who is John Galt?” “Who is John Galt?” “Who is John Galt?”…


Looks to me like “it’s part of who/what I am.”


I’m seeing “Break it up.”

ETA: Or “bottlecap.”

ETA#2: It seems to be from this video:

I’m having trouble pinpointing the exact moment (not shrugging shoulders, ending the word with a head nod).




Errr… a company that raised more that $900M from investors, leading to its valuation at over $9 billion, which basically just lied its way to the top and used its own competitor’s machines to run tests? And it ended up getting a House of Representatives Committee Investigation into its ethics violations?

A lot of it is in the linked “Previously” article, the rest on Wikipedia.


Gibbons, who is soft-spoken, spent the better part of our two-hour conversation oscillating between tears and anger as she spoke about Ian Gibbons, her husband and the former chief scientist of Theranos who committed suicide three years ago, largely due, she said, to the pressures of working for Holmes.

WHY do scientists - who one might suppose would know better - nearly always defer to business people? Those whose whole role in life is to manipulate imaginary/arbitrary symbols?


TRUMP 2016!!!


I swear that video is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure if it’s the production values (the ring light in the eyes gives it an uncanny valley feel) or the clear “portrait of a genius” pretension or what.


I fucked it up?


Story was interesting, and I listened to Holmes’ video blurb after that, and all I’m picking up is the creeping belief that I see parallels between her and trump–particulars are never offered, she talks a good game around the particulars, especially in setting up the company or the tests as a basic human right, and that it’ll save the world and all we’ve got to do is expect the tech to work.

Which it demonstrably does not. And, demonstrably, their tests have the potential to seriously harm users. And Holmes is still working this as though it has a chance of working? Listening to her speak, all I can hear is, “con artist, con artist, con artist…”.


She’s saying Portland backwards and in Japanese.


Often because scientists have no clue as to how to run a business. And they know they know nothing about business.



  1. Many scientists think of business administration as a tedious waste of time that could be better spent on research, and

  2. Running a laboratory is incredibly fucking expensive.


Speaking of journalists vs. institutions, there’s an interesting article in the latest Scientific American, on one variety of manipulation: How the FDA Manipulates the Media.


They don’t. Not really. To a certain extent scientists go along to get along like any other population, but more often than not, we change the prompt or goal to something realistic.

“We need X.”

“X is either impossible at our budget or just according to the laws of the universe which I was hired to apply. Here’s Y. Is that good enough.”

“I really need X.”

“How about Z?”

“Nope, need X.”


“Here’s something I’m calling X, but is really Y. Why don’t we both just call it X, and call it a day.”

“Okay, I guess…”

To the extent that this process of negotiating expectations can be considered deferral, it’s not unique to scientists. Just ask any of the IT people here. And scientists have a harder time finding work than a lot of people think.


But Elizabeth Holmes is so beautiful. She simply must be a Good Person.

I’m sure this is all just a terrible misunderstanding…


“Donratorupo”? Too many syllables, though it does sound a little like “Donald Trump”.