|By Alan Hall
Originally published in the Nov. 2010 Socionomist
When a researcher recently discovered that the United States had deliberately infected nearly 700 Guatemalan men and women in the 1940s with sexually transmitted diseases, President Obama and the Secretaries of State and Health promptly apologized for the barbaric medical experiments.
It’s no surprise that the officials were fast to express regret. Socionomics has found that major social mood peaks prompt high-level apologies for ignoble conduct during previous negative mood periods, and mood is still relatively near a multi-decade peak (see Figure 1).
Chapter 16 of The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior (1999) explained, “Major advances in mood invariably produce overtures of reconciliation.” In the August 1995 issue of The Elliott Wave Theorist, Pete Kendall reported:
In bear markets, anger, fear and the urge to destroy overcome the social conscience. Remorse, on the other hand, is a bull market trait born of the larger trend toward inclusionist impulses. Historic expressions of it would be expected to appear at bull market tops, when the inclusionist mood trend is at its extreme.
Kendall went on to explain that as the 1990s’ ebullient mood drove stocks to their historic highs, it also created bull markets in both regret and forgiveness:
The peaking social mood has brought apologies for a host of transgressions that are decades, generations, and even centuries old … . A group of ethicists and historians has decided that financial compensation and a formal government apology is due victims of secret human radiation experiments conducted in the U.S. during the Cold War … . Southern Baptists, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, have asked forgiveness for defending slavery in the 1800s. (The sect was founded in 1845 in a show of support for slavery.) The Catholic Church apologized to “every woman” in the world for centuries of relegation to “the margins of society”; then it apologized to the Czech Republic for the Catholic church’s role in the 16th Century wars that followed the Protestant Reformation; then it agreed to join Protestants in ceremonies repenting for the Crusades against Muslims and Jews 900 years ago!1
In the November 2007 issue of The Elliott Wave Theorist, socionomist Mark Galasiewski charted historical apologies and social mood as displayed by the DJIA and commented:
Historical apologies have increased dramatically in the past 15 years, along with the stock market. The coincidence is not random; both are driven by the wave of positive social mood that took off in 1982. Apologies in 1998, 1999 and 2000 made the greatest three-year total within the topping years, and there was a record one-year spike in 2002, when other measures of sentiment, such as the number of S&P 500 futures contracts held by small traders, also made their all-time peaks—see January 2007 EWT. Since then, however, annual apologies have not kept pace with price, suggesting that the wave of reconciliation that took off in the early 1990s is almost exhausted. Once the bear market resumes, expect the public’s willingness to acknowledge past wrongs to become itself a thing of the past. In its place will be an impetus to act in ways that will require apologies later.2
A Wellesley College historian unearthed descriptions of the 1940s Guatemalan campaign from the archives of Dr. John Cutler, a government researcher who was also involved in the infamous U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) study in Tuskegee, Alabama.3 In Tuskegee, Cutler helped chronicle the progression of late-stage syphilis in 399 black men while withholding treatment.Both the Tuskegee and Guatemala experiments followed a socionomic script. The Tuskegee project began at the 1932 low in social mood, drew scrutiny at the 1966 peak following a whistle-blower letter by a PHS investigator, and ended in July 1972 just before another mood and market peak.4 U.S. President Bill Clinton apologized for it in 1997 near yet another market peak.5
Now we have learned that Cutler and his PHS team also went to Guatemala. There, from 1946-1948—during a 22-percent bear market in the DJIA and shortly after the social mood extreme that caused World War II—he helped deliberately infect 696 Guatemalan men and women with syphilis and gonorrhea via both injections and prostitutes paid for by U.S. taxpayers. The project occurred while the U.S. conducted the “Nazi Doctors’ Trial” in Nuremberg, Germany, in which it “tried, convicted and sentenced a score of Nazi doctors for performing macabre experiments on thousands of Jews during World War II.”6
The Tuskegee and Guatemala experiments were part of a wider trend that began at the 1932 low:
While secretly trying to infect people with serious diseases is abhorrent today, the Guatemalan experiment isn’t the only example from what [Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health], called “a dark chapter in the history of medicine.” Forty similar deliberate-infection studies were conducted in the United States during that period [1932 to 1972], Collins said.7e
The latest mea culpa is not the first time the U.S. apologized to Guatemala for injuring its citizens during a bear market. In March 1999, only months before the Grand Supercycle peak in social mood, Bill Clinton, speaking in Guatemala City, admitted that the U.S. “was responsible for most of the human rights abuses committed” during the 36-year Guatemalan Civil War in which 200,000 people died.8 The U.S. had sent military advisors into Guatemala in November 1965, just prior to a Cycle-degree social mood peak. As the subsequent bear market progressed, death tolls mounted and the war accelerated to its “defining event,” the burning of the Spanish Embassy in January 1980, the month of the low in the Dow/Gold ratio.
Figure 2 shows the monthly DJIA and includes data from “Institutional Violence in Guatemala, 1960-1996: a Quantitative Reflection,” by Patrick Ball, Paul Kobrak, and Herbert F. Spirer.9 The research shows that the level of state terror in Guatemala peaked in 1982, the same year the nation’s army “killed thousands of civilians in the west of the country and decimated hundreds of indigenous communities.” Note that the peak in Guatemalan violence coincided with the end of the 16-year Cycle-degree bear market in the inflation (PPI)-adjusted DJIA—in keeping with socionomic expectations. For a detailed review of the forces leading to such conflicts, see Euan Wilson’s “A Socionomic Review of Civil War,” The Socionomist, January 2010.
When social mood resumes its descent, the era of the historic apology will fade. We recommend that you rush any requests.
1 Prechter, R. (1995). August. The Elliott Wave Theorist.
2 Prechter, R. (2007). November. The Elliott Wave Theorist.
3 Reverby, S. (2010). “Normal exposure” and inoculation syphilis: a PHS “Tuskegee” doctor in Guatemala, 1946-48. Journal of Policy History. Retrieved from http://www.wellesley.edu/WomenSt/Reverby%20Normal%20Exposure.pdf
4 Research ethics: the tuskegee syphilis study. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.msu.edu/user/sw/ethics/tuskg.html
5 Gault, C. (1997, May 16). An apology 65 years late. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/health/may97/tuskegee_5-16.html
6 Valladares, D. (2010, October 12). Guatemala to investigate human experimentation by U.S. doctors. Inside Costa Rica. Retrieved from http://www.insidecostarica.com/special_reports/2010/2010-10/guatemala-us.htm
7 Neergaard, L. (2010, October 2). U.S. syphilis experiments in Guatemala mental hospital in 1940s revealed, U.S. apologies to nation. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/02/us-syphilis-experiments-i_n_747988.html
8 Kettle, M. (1999, March 12). Clinton apology to Guatemala. Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/1999/mar/12/jeremylennard.martinkettle
9 Ball, P., Kobrak, P., & Spirer, H. (1999, March 12). Institutional violence in Guatemala, 1960-1996: a quantitative reflection. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Human Rights Program ; International Center for Human Rights Research. Retrieved from http://shr.aaas.org/guatemala/ciidh/qr/english/en_qr.pdf doi: ISBN: 0-87168-630-9
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