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When ethical review of experiments is unethical. Michael H. Birnbaum. How to shock your colleagues. Milgram compliance study will be replicated Zimbardo prison study will be replicated These will be done for Reality TV. IRB stories. The man who couldn’t speak to his wife

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how to shock your colleagues
How to shock your colleagues
  • Milgram compliance study will be replicated
  • Zimbardo prison study will be replicated
  • These will be done for Reality TV.
irb stories
IRB stories
  • The man who couldn’t speak to his wife
  • The man who signed in black
  • The word “gamble”
  • The changing date
  • The woman who couldn’t stand it
  • We are only following orders
  • Eventually we approve everything, but not until you have completed the essay assignment
  • It doesn’t have to make sense ethically or legally because it only applies to the rights of scientists to publish in the scientific literature.
is there a place for irb review
Is there a place for IRB review?
  • In my opinion, yes. Only when scientists wish to do something that would otherwise be illegal.
  • For example, it is usually illegal to inject someone with live HIV virus
  • There are volunteers who are willing to be injected to test if a new vaccine works.
  • We need to check that volunteers know the risks and are truly volunteers.
strange reversal of ethics
Strange reversal of ethics
  • Now, the only people who can not do certain things are scientists who plan to publish.
  • The publication rule = a clear violation of first amendment civil rights
  • Scientists should be granted greater freedom because of the potential good to society.
driving review board
Driving Review Board
  • A useful exercise is to ask the members of the IRB to apply for permission to drive a vehicle.
  • 41,000 killed each year, millions of injuries and property damage claims to insurance.
  • Driving, unlike psychology experiments is truly risky.
  • Same standards as for IRB review: could anyone drive?
  • Almost all psychology experiments should be simply exempt. No one is killed, no one injured, and no claims of property damage. (Probably safer to do a psych experiment than drive 1 hour in traffic)
  • Anything that anyone else could do should be permitted to scientists who plan to publish
  • Appeal of IRB decisions
how to save lives
How to save lives
  • 100,000 people are killed each year by hospital infections = diseases that the person was given in the hospital.
  • Same effort of IRBs could probably save 60,000 to 80,000 lives/year. Get doctors and nurses to follow standard precautions (wash hands, change gloves).
  • The waste of effort by IRBs is shameful in a nation that has so many preventable deaths.