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ResourcesHuman Research EthicsThe Case of the Girl from La Noria: Implications for Ethics in Research with Human Remains – Etilmercurio (Por Invitado Especial | April 2018)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

The Case of the Girl from La Noria: Implications for Ethics in Research with Human Remains – Etilmercurio (Por Invitado Especial | April 2018)

 


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A recent article describing the whole-genome sequencing of a body of alleged «extraterrestrial» origin according to UFO organisations (1), journalists (2), and other media outlets (3), has initiated an important controversy regarding adherence to scientific, legal and ethical standards for studies involving human skeletal remains. This controversy began with the commentary published by Etilmercurio (4), which was followed by press reports (5,6,7), public statements released by local and international scientific organisations (8,9,10), the authors of the original article (11), and the journal where it was published (12).

Further commentary on this archeological project that prompted a UFO conspiracy and media storm. Do your institution’s guidelines speak to such projects (including legal frameworks in the source country)? We’ve included a link to an earlier item about this case.

The basic issues raised by researchers questioning the article are clearly summarised in a tweet by Professor Tom Higham (School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, UK): «Accepting a human sample sent via TV film crew from a private owner in Spain; not seen or viewed by them – without any checks for provenance or permission, let alone ethical considerations… what were they thinking?». This is exactly what the authors (Nolan and Butte) claimed in their statement, as part of their argument disavowing responsibility, without acknowledging their lack of involvement as the root of the problem.
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In their statement (11), the authors attempted to rebut these claims, identifying an earlier lack of criticism or legal action from the Chilean press and authorities when these remains originally became subject to public attention in 2013. Moreover, they declare to have followed U.S. regulations in this regard, completely ignoring Chilean law.
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Read the rest of this discussion piece



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