Bed bugs, businessmen, and the Intellectual

I spent many years in University and one the most enduring tidbits of knowledge I gleaned came about through Edward Said’s lectures entitled “Representations of the Intellectual.” Said suggests that the role of the modern intellectual is to move beyond self interest and speak truth to vested interests on the “basis of universal principles” (p11).

I have appropriated these ideas very deeply into my thinking. As a Christian I firmly believe that we are on this good earth for a “short” testing phase. When I act in such a manner that benefits the larger community I pass the test. I liken it to an adult (God) supervising children (me and others) playing a board game. Some of the children cheat and steal to win the game and perhaps they might even succeed in their goals. But the adult noticed what happened and correction will be forthcoming. As such it is important to always act with the bigger picture in mind.

I have spent a lot of time with bed bugs over the years as a hands on exterminator and a researcher. One consistent thing I have noted is that there exists a tremendous amount of hucksterism in the bed bug business. Bed bug products with very little, if any, efficacy are put on the market and exterminators sell these useless trinkets knowing they don’t work but make money on the sale anyways. On one occasion I noted a trinket purveyor did not like me publishing research and asked me to stop. Of course I refused. On another occasion it came to my attention that a corporation did not like my research directions and wanted it stopped before it even started! Can you guess what Said’s response would have been? Mine is the same.

I would like to remind the hucksters that, though they may consider themselves very smart, that we all are in the same testing phase. All our actions will be held to full daylight eventually.  For the man who swindled a single mom’s last $20 for a useless gadget or the corporate head  that attempted to suppress experimental data  an appropriate response, I am sure, will be forthcoming.

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