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Author Archive: Chris MacDonald

About Chris MacDonald

06/08/2017

CIA Torture as Human-Subjects Research

In the piece linked below, the author (a professor of sociology at the University of California) argues that modern norms governing human-subjects research are actually stronger, or at least more clear, than those governing government-sanctioned torture. Some of us professionally involved in research ethics governance might not agree that norms of that discipline are beyond […]

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06/08/2017

CIA Torture as Human-Subjects Research

In the piece linked below, the author (a professor of sociology at the University of California) argues that modern norms governing human-subjects research are actually stronger, or at least more clear, than those governing government-sanctioned torture. Some of us professionally involved in research ethics governance might not agree that norms of that discipline are beyond […]

Full Article

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04/17/2015

Bad Behaviour by Pharma, and Unforeseen Consequences

This is a must-read for anyone interested in the ethics of drug development and clinical trials. It explores how genuinely bad behaviour on the part of pharmaceutical companies can lead to overreaction by journalists and the public, sometimes with tragic consequences. By Matthew Herper, writing for Forbes.com: How Marketing And Media Muddled The Truth About […]

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04/14/2015

Is there a “Right to Try” Experimental Drugs?

From The State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL) Patient freedom, ethics at the heart of ‘Right to Try’ push in Illinois Some doctors worry that an effort to grant terminally ill people more access to unproven drugs might offer them false hope or even be harmful, but advocates for a “right to try” say patients should have […]

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04/12/2015

Should a University President Resign over Research Ethics?

In this newspaper editorial, a former governor of Minnesota says that the current president of the University of Minnesota needs to go, because of how he has mishandled controversy over research ethics at the university: Markingson case: University of Minnesota can’t regain trust under current leadership …During his first year at the university, Kaler had […]

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04/11/2015

Ethics of Research on Complementary & Alternative Medicine

Here are three related items to bring to your attention: On the blog of Policy Options magazine, here’s a very good piece by our pal Tim Caulfield, called Homeopathy and the ethics of researching magic. And via the same outlet, here’s my piece in which I partly disagree with Tim: Homeopathy and Research Ethics. And […]

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04/06/2015

Johns Hopkins University Sued for $1bn Over Guatemalan Study

This story is pretty much a ‘perfect storm’ of research ethics problems: international research, on vulnerable populations (orphans, prisoners and mental health patients), lack of consent, and questionable institutional responsibility for the actions of now-dead researchers. From The Guardian: Guatemalans deliberately infected with STDs sue Johns Hopkins University for $1bn …Nearly 800 plaintiffs have launched […]

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08/21/2014

Facebook and ‘Being Experimented Upon’

Following on my recent blog posting about the Facebook emotion-manipulation study, here’s a useful piece from The Atlantic: How Much Should You Know About How Facebook Works? The piece focuses on the ubiquity of constantly-tweaked algorithms in online services such as Google and Facebook. The algorithms such companies use today are quite different from the […]

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07/24/2014

The Facebook Emotions Study

Over at my Business Ethics Blog, I just posted my thoughts on the recent controversy over the Facebook / Cornell study. I look at the question not of the ethics of the Cornell researchers, but of Facebook as a corporation I basically argue that: a) the risks involved were trivial; b) the commercial context matters, […]

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11/22/2012

Ethical Design for Cluster Randomized Trials

A team led by our friend and colleague Charles Weijer at the University of Western Ontario has just issued guideliens for what are known as “cluster randomized trials” (CRTs). See the story here: Western-led team delivers world-first ethics guidelines. CRTs are clinical trials in which randomization occurs across groups of participants, or across institutions, rather […]

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