Tag Archives | Ethics

U.S. Reviews Syphilis Experiment In Guatemala: Researchers Knew It Was Unethical

Tuskeegee_studyAll too often groups of people are unknowingly infected with disease as a means of isolated experimentation. Earlier this week the Commision for the Study of Bioethical Issues reviewed the 1940s incident  where the U.S. government infected Guatemalan prisoners and patients with syphilis. Via Reuters:

U.S. government researchers must have known they were violating ethical standards by deliberately infecting Guatemalan prison inmates and mental patients with syphilis for an experiment in the 1940s, according to a U.S. presidential commission.

The U.S.-funded research in Guatemala did not treat participants as human beings, failing to even inform them they were taking part in research, as was the case for a similar study in the United States, the commission said on Monday.

The United States apologized last year for the experiment, which was meant to test the drug penicillin, after it was uncovered decades later by a college professor.

President Barack Obama’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues investigated the syphilis experiment and discussed its key findings in Washington on Monday.

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Mythology of Business Part 1: The Veil of Ignorance

shell.jpgThis is part 1 of an excerpted series for Reality Sandwich from the anthology The Immanence of Myth published by Weaponized.

Myth’s central importance does not end with our art or religions. It is not solely a dusty world of broken clay pots and tablets written in dead languages. Our myths determine how we engage with the world, how we enter into it. How we treat ourselves and one another. Far from being archaic relics of the past, myths will determine our future. Even if we are unaware of them, they will continue to affect us.

The advertising used to disseminate films, books and music shows the profound value that mythology has within modern markets. You just need to know what you’re looking for. However, it does not end with the entertainment industry. A brand, any brand in an increasingly interactive media environment, is myth.

This role is made all the more pervasive thanks to the proliferation of instantaneous and virtually limitless communication mediums.… Read the rest

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Evidence of Murdoch’s Newspapers Distorting News to Fuel Racism

Media disinformation and negativity against non-Western cultures in Australia is a terminal disease spreading into the bloodstream of the mainstream media industry in Australia. The following incident demonstrated how easy it is to demonize a Chinese restaurant in Melbourne through the manipulation of news using the techniques of factual omission, misleading heading, misleading bullet-point-highlight, misleading bold-highlight and the editorializing of content using a series of subjective and strong wordings to sell the personal opinion of the journalist or editor as news.

How did Murdoch’s Newspapers demonise a Chinese Restaurant in Melbourne?

Can you tell the problem with the following report by the Herald Sun?

St Kilda Chinese restaurant food bill handed to man in ambulance

By Jessica Craven    From: Herald Sun April 26, 2011 7:21PM

  • Man suffered seizure while dining at Chinese restaurant
  • Man given bill as he was being loaded into ambulance
  • Restaurant manager said someone had to pay for meal

A CHINESE restaurant that slapped a customer with the bill as he was being loaded into an ambulance has defended its actions.

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Major Corporations To Hide Income Disparity

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

A group of 81 major corporations believe that public knowledge of what their CEOs make in respect to the average worker is “useless” information. The Washington Post reports that more than a year ago (H/T Alternet), some of America’s biggest corporate movers and shakers began lobbying Congress to force changes to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, so companies needn’t bother disclose the wage gulf between executives and workers. A House committee approved the bill 33–21.

Rep. Nan A.S. Hayworth (R-NY), who sponsored The Burdensome Data Collection Relief Act (HR1062), said comparing a CEO’s wage to the average worker could “mislead or confuse investors” and that such a comparison “creates heat but sheds no light.” Tim Bartl, senior vice president and general counsel for the Center on Executive Compensation asked “You can already tell where a CEO falls relative to his peers, you can already tell where he falls relative to the average worker in the industry.… Read the rest

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Even If You Are an Atheist, You Worship Something …

From the late great David Foster Wallace:

Because here’s something else that’s true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshiping. Everybody worships.

The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship — be it J.C. or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some in-frangible set of ethical principles — is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.

If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth.

Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you.

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The U.S. Congress Does ‘Abnormally’ Well in the Stock Market

Monopoly ManThis should be more troubling, but it feels like business as usual in Washington. Dan Foomkin writes on the Huffington Post:

Members of the House of Representatives considerably outperform the stock market in their personal investments, according to a new academic study.

Four university researchers examined 16,000 common stock transactions made by approximately 300 House representatives from 1985 to 2001, and found what they call “significant positive abnormal returns,” with portfolios based on congressional trades beating the market by about 6 percent annually.

What’s their secret? The report speculates, but does not conclude, it could have something to do with the ability members of Congress have to trade on non-public information or to vote their own pocketbooks — or both.

A study of senators by the same team of researchers five years ago found members of the higher chamber even better at beating the market — outperforming it by about 10 percent, an amount the academics said was “both economically large and statistically significant.”

Read More: Huffington Post

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Seeing Beyond ‘Evil’

Dr EvilKate Kelland reports on Reuters via MNN:

Simon Baron Cohen has been battling with evil all his life. As a scientist seeking to understand random acts of violence, from street brawls to psychopathic killings to genocide, he has puzzled for decades over what prompts such acts of human cruelty. And he’s decided that evil is not good enough.

“I’m not satisfied with the term ‘evil’,” says the Cambridge University psychology and psychiatry professor, one of the world’s top experts in autism and developmental psychopathology.

“We’ve inherited this word … and we use it to express our abhorrence when people do awful things, usually acts of cruelty, but I don’t think it’s anything more than another word for doing something bad. And as a scientist that doesn’t seem to me to be much of an explanation. So I’ve been looking for an alternative — we need a new theory of human cruelty.”

Baron Cohen, who is also director of the Autism Research Center at Cambridge, has just written a book in which he calls for a kind of rebranding of evil to offer a more scientific explanation for why people kill and torture, or have such great difficulty understanding the feelings of others.

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The Ethics Of Unleashing Killer Robots

I'll be backThe UK Ministry of Defense experiences a moment of self-reflection that one can’t imagine happening at, say, the Pentagon. Richard Norton-Taylor and Rob Evans report for the Guardian:

The growing use of unmanned aircraft in combat situations raises huge moral and legal issues, and threatens to make war more likely as armed robots take over from human beings, according to an internal study by the Ministry of Defence.

The report warns of the dangers of an “incremental and involuntary journey towards a Terminator-like reality”, referring to James Cameron’s 1984 movie, in which humans are hunted by robotic killing machines. It says the pace of technological development is accelerating at such a rate that Britain must quickly establish a policy on what will constitute “acceptable machine behaviour”.

“It is essential that before unmanned systems become ubiquitous (if it is not already too late) … we ensure that, by removing some of the horror, or at least keeping it at a distance, we do not risk losing our controlling humanity and make war more likely,” warns the report, titled The UK Approach to Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

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What Will People Do For Money? They Will Electrically Shock You

Shocking OneThis reminds me a bit of the old Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures except the results are more “shocking” (no pun intended). Laura Sanders writes on WIRED Science:

SAN FRANCISCO — When faced with a thorny moral dilemma, what people say they would do and what people actually do are two very different things, a new study finds. In a hypothetical scenario, most people said they would never subject another person to a painful electric shock, just to make a little bit of money. But for people given a real-world choice, the sparks flew.

The results, presented April 4 at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, serve as a reminder that hypothetical scenarios don’t capture the complexities of real decisions.

Morality studies in the lab almost always rely on asking participants to imagine how they’d behave in a certain situation, study coauthor Oriel Feldman Hall of Cambridge University said in her presentation.

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