…but wasting your time reading this ridiculous article by Scott Gilmore probably is.
The author’s assertion, that ALS is well funded, fails to take into account how much it costs to develop drugs for treatment – according to Forbes, approximately $5 billion. Because ALS is so rare, that means that pharmaceutical companies have very little incentive to develop these drugs – there isn’t a huge market, so why would they invest billions of dollars in them? This is where ALS charities come in, to help fund research, as well as provide support and services for those living with ALS.
Also, while the author asserts that ALS isn’t urgent, the World Health Organization has predicted that ALS, along with other neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s, will surpass cancer as the second leading cause of death in Canada by 2040.
Thirdly, the author ignores what an incredibly devastating disease ALS is, and the fact that there is no known treatment. A diagnosis of ALS is essentially a death sentence – 80% of people diagnoses die within 2 to 5 years. It starts as a generally feeling of weakness in your muscles and loss of fine motor skills, and progressed to the point where you cannot even chew, swallow or breathe on your own. Since there is so little known about ALS, a concrete diagnosis can only be given when doctors have generally ruled out everything else – this means medical test after medical test to rule out every other possible disease.
And finally, the author’s premise of limited resources for charity is flawed. While of course I won’t argue the fact that everyone does have limited resources, the author ignores the fact that a LOT of the people doing the ice bucket challenge, and donating to it, are teenagers and young adults. While of course people of these age groups generally have smaller bank accounts, I might hazard to say that people of this age group are also generally not people who have a set amount of their earnings set aside to donate to charity. When a 18-24 year-old donates $10 to ALS, it’s probably not coming out of a specific charity fund. Let’s be honest, had that $10 not been donated, it probably would have been spent on something like beer or pizza. The ice bucket challenge, while it might be “slacktivism”, give people the opportunity to participate in a movement and have some fun while raising funds (and hopefully awareness) – and while yes, it does feed into our own narcissism, it’s no more narcissistic than another selfie, which is what would otherwise be clogging up your newsfeed.