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Posts Tagged "ethics"

Compound Eye

To kill, or not to kill: the insect photographer’s question (part 2)

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Earlier, I posed a series of ethical scenarios in which an insect dies as part of a photographic project. I did not mention why I’d written that post, but the piece does have a backstory. I teach several photography workshops every year. These events attract two rather different sorts of people: entomologists who are learning [...]

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Compound Eye

To kill, or not to kill: the insect photographer’s question

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And now, just in time for your long weekend, an ethics quiz! Imagine you have an insect, a camera, and a photography project that might involve the death of your little subject. Insects are not universally regarded to have moral standing, of course, yet exterminating them for no reason also seems wrong. Or, it should [...]

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Doing Good Science

Conduct of scientists (and science writers) can shape the public’s view of science.

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Scientists undertake a peculiar kind of project. In striving to build objective knowledge about the world, they are tacitly recognizing that our unreflective picture of the world is likely to be riddled with mistakes and distortions. On the other hand, they frequently come to regard themselves as better thinkers — as more reliably objective — [...]

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Doing Good Science

Do permanent records of scientific misconduct findings interfere with rehabilitation?

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We’ve been discussing how the scientific community deals with cheaters in its midst and the question of whether scientists view rehabilitation as a live option. Connected to the question of rehabilitation is the question of whether an official finding of scientific misconduct leaves a permanent mark that makes it practically impossible for someone to function [...]

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Doing Good Science

Faith in rehabilitation (but not in official channels): how unethical behavior in science goes unreported.

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Can a scientist who has behaved unethically be rehabilitated and reintegrated as a productive member of the scientific community? Or is your first ethical blunder grounds for permanent expulsion from the community? In practice, this isn’t just a question about the person who commits the ethical violation. It’s also a question about what other scientists [...]

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Doing Good Science

Resistance to ethics instruction: considering the hypothesis that moral character is fixed.

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This week I’ve been blogging about the resistance to required ethics coursework one sometimes sees in STEM* disciplines. As one reason for this resistance is the hunch that you can’t teach a person to be ethical once they’re past a certain (pre-college) age, my previous post noted that there’s a sizable body of research that [...]

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Doing Good Science

Resistance to ethics instruction: the intuition that ethics cannot be taught.

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In my last post, I suggested that required ethics coursework (especially for students in STEM* disciplines) are met with a specific sort of resistance. I also surmised that part of this resistance is the idea that ethics can’t be taught in any useful way, “the idea that being ethical is somehow innate, a mere matter [...]

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Doing Good Science

Resistance to ethics is different from resistance to other required courses.

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For academic types like myself, the end of the semester can be a weird juxtaposition of projects that are ending and new projects that are on the horizon, a juxtaposition that can be an opportunity for reflexion. I’ve just seen another offering of my “Ethics in Science” course to a (mostly successful) conclusion. Despite the [...]

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Doing Good Science

Incoherent ethical claims that give philosophers a bad rap

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Every now and then, in the course of a broader discussion, some philosopher will make a claim that is rightly disputed by non-philosophers. Generally, this is no big deal — philosophers have just as much capacity to be wrong as other humans. But sometimes, the philosopher’s claim, delivered with an air of authority, is not [...]

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Doing Good Science

How to be ethical while getting the public involved in your science

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At ScienceOnline Together later this week, Holly Menninger will be moderating a session on “Ethics, Genomics, and Public Involvement in Science”. Because the ethical (and epistemic) dimensions of “citizen science” have been on my mind for a while now, in this post I share some very broad, pre-conference thoughts on the subject. Ethics is a [...]

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Doing Good Science

The line between persuasion and manipulation.

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As this year’s ScienceOnline Together conference approaches, I’ve been thinking about the ethical dimensions of using empirical findings from psychological research to inform effective science communication (or really any communication). Melanie Tannenbaum will be co-facilitating a session about using such research findings to guide communication strategies, and this year’s session is nicely connected to a [...]

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Doing Good Science

Are you saying I can’t go home until we cure cancer? Obligations of scientists (part 7)

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In the previous post in this series, we examined the question of what scientists who are trained with significant financial support from the public (which, in the U.S., means practically every scientist trained at the Ph.D. level) owe to the public providing that support. The focus there was personal: I was trained to be a [...]

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Food Matters

Face Off! A Debate About Eating Anything With A Face

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Is it healthier to be a vegetarian? Or an omnivore? And how much of an environmental impact does livestock really have? These questions can spark a lively debate and that’s exactly what happened last week when Intelligence Squared presented Don’t Eat Anything With A Face. Clinical researcher and author Dr. Neal Barnard and Gene Baur, [...]

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Guest Blog

“Gene Drives” and CRISPR Could Revolutionize Ecosystem Management

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A note from the authors: With this guest blog post we want to share the key features of an innovative method for the high-precision genome editing of wild populations that has been outlined by our team at the Wyss Institute, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard School of Public Health. Our technical description of the [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

UMN: How many deaths have occurred during your clinical trials?

Angel of Grief

This series uses the story of Dan Markingson’s participation in a clinical trial of anti-psychotic drugs at the University of Minnesota, his suicide in 2004 while participating on the study, and subsequent events as a case study in which to explore various aspects of clinical trial conduct. In previous posts, I’ve looked at issues of [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Minnesota Attorney General Confirms They Did Not Exonerate UMN in Markingson Death

Dan and his mom, Mary Weiss

This research ethics series uses the story of Dan Markingson’s participation in a clinical trial of anti-psychotic drugs at the University of Minnesota, his suicide 2004 while participating on the study, and subsequent events as a case study in which to explore various aspects of clinical trial conduct. In previous posts, I’ve looked at issues [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

CDC’s “Resistance Nightmare:” A View from the Trenches

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Great posts have been written about the “end of antibiotics” and superbugs in a variety of flavors. Yesterday, the CDC⁠ issued an alarming warning about Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, aka CRE. The enzyme that  produces the antibiotic resistance, was first identified in 2001 from an isolate of  Klebsiella. According to the new CDC report, in a 2012 [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Of Citizen Science, Ethics, and IRBs – the view from Science Online

I had the wonderful opportunity to co-moderate two sessions at this past week’s Science Online “unconference” in Raleigh, affectionately known as #scio13. Sessions are proposed and moderated by volunteers, and there is a broad range of attendees, leading to rich discussion…and lots of fun.   There were three sessions devoted to different aspects of Citizen [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Prosecutorial Excess: A Pattern of Abuse

I continue on break from the UMN Markingson story as I try to make sense—although there appears none to be had—of the tragic death of Aaron Swartz. I am haunted and infuriated by the senselessness of his death and his persecution by overzealous prosecutors. I am also reminded of other witch hunts that were equally [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

An Elegy for Aaron

This post is in honor of Aaron Swartz. I had long considered posting my book as open access but had hesitated in doing so, even though I have long been an enthusiast about OLPC and Creative Commons.  Aaron’s tragic death prompted my urgent reconsideration and offering.   For me, it is the pictures of Aaron, [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Clinical Trials for Beginners: Ethics – Pediatric Anthrax Vaccine Case Study

Having looked at the rampant conflicts of interest surrounding the anthrax vaccine and a bit at the logistics of the proposed pediatric vaccine trial let’s look at the trial in the context of ethical principles. Ethical context The need for ethical guidelines came to vivid attention during World War II, when the Nazis tortured many [...]

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Molecules to Medicine

Molecules to Medicine: Clinical Trials for Beginners

Have you ever wondered about the medicines you take—how they are developed and produced? We’ll explore that in “Molecules to Medicine.” This new series could be described as “medicine for muggles,” intended to take the mystery out of clinical research and drug development and to provide background information so that both patients and physicians can [...]

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The Moral Universe

Adding Complexity to Questions of Moral Motivation

Observations

Smartphone App Takes Morality Science out of the Lab and into the Real World

Image of the Smartphone Experience-Sampling Signal (SMS linking to smartphone survey). Courtesy of Wilhelm Hofmann.

Just when it seems there’s a mobile app for just about everything, psychologists have shown there’s room for one more: they are using smartphones to help them better understand the dynamics of moral and immoral behavior out in the community. A team of U.S., German and Dutch researchers has used Apple iOS, Google Android and [...]

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Observations

Lance Armstrong Comes Clean—a Mixed Blessing for Sports

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Lance Armstrong’s confession to Oprah Winfrey earlier this week that he’s been a drug cheat throughout his illustrious career was a mixed blessing for the sports world. On one hand, key questions have been answered and a perpetrator has been caught. We now know that cycling’s preeminent athlete over the past two decades managed to [...]

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Observations

Cigarette Additives Increase Toxicity, According to External Analysis

Cigarette maker Philip Morris spent years studying whether additives, such as menthol, added to the toxicity of their smokes. And several published studies—conducted by the company—have claimed that the additives had no impact on the danger of their products.  But thanks to lawsuits against the tobacco industry, a trove of previously secret scientific and corporate [...]

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Observations

How much money was your doctor paid by a drug company?

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It’s no secret that many doctors get paid by pharmaceutical companies to talk to other docs—about general conditions, research trends or specific drugs—or to provide expertise for company research. But what has long been undisclosed is the amount of money that these drugmakers were giving physicians for their time. Thanks in part to some high-profile [...]

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Observations

Exploitative experiments: U.S. government researchers secretly infected Guatemalans with syphilis in the 1940s

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The U.S. government apologized Friday for a previously unreported experiment that infected hundreds of un-consenting Guatemalans with syphilis in the 1940s. The research was "clearly unethical," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a joint statement. "Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we [...]

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Observations

Scientific misconduct estimated to drain millions each year

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As speculation swirls around the status of possible investigations into research by the prolific Harvard psychologist Marc Hauser, a new study drills down to figure out the true cost of scientific misconduct. Neither Harvard nor the federal government, which has funded some of Hauser’s work that has been retracted or amended, has come forward with [...]

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Observations

Many physicians fail to report incompetent or incapacitated colleagues

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An intoxicated co-worker in many workplaces might be more of a nuisance than a threat. But an impaired or incompetent physician can present a real risk to patients. The American Medical Association (AMA) asserts that all doctors have an "ethical obligation to report" colleagues who are suspected of being unable to safely fulfill their duties, [...]

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Observations

NASA-funded monkey-radiation experiment raises hackles

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A nonprofit group that promotes animal rights in medical research has taken issue with a NASA grant funding an assessment of the long-term effects of radiation on monkeys. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), based in Washington, D.C., sent an appeal Thursday to NASA administrator Charles Bolden, urging that the radiobiology study, intended to [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Scientists Learn How to Put an Octopus to Sleep

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We can’t really ask an octopus to count backward from 10. Which is just one of the tricky things about putting an octopus under. If knocking an octopus out (for science) sounds like an unusual procedure, well, it is. But it’s likely going to get a lot more common in labs around the world. Canada, [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

The pain of not getting cited: oversight, laziness, or malice?

The author laments (a photograph taken at the University of Portsmouth back in September 2009).

It’s time to republish this classic article from Tet Zoo ver 2 (originally published in September 2009). The problem I’m concerned with certainly hasn’t gone away, and in fact is on my mind right now since I’ve seen a couple of recent, egregious examples. Those of us who publish technical research papers like to see [...]

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