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ResourcesHuman Research Ethics(US) ‘Three Identical Strangers’: The high cost of experimentation without ethics – The Washington Post (Barron H. Lerner | January 2019)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

(US) ‘Three Identical Strangers’: The high cost of experimentation without ethics – The Washington Post (Barron H. Lerner | January 2019)

 


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On Sunday night, CNN will air “Three Identical Strangers,” a documentary about an experiment in which adopted twins and triplets were secretly separated. Viewers will probably be appalled as they learn about the emotional damage these individuals experienced as a result of their forced separation. But this medical experiment was not exceptional: It was just one of many unethical studies in the 1950s and 1960s that used subjects as means to an end.

Another shocking research project from the US (1955-70) that demonstrates the Nuremberg war trials and publication of the Nuremberg Code didn’t end egregious ethical lapses. We have added links to some related items.

Injunctions against unethical research go back at least to the mid-19th century, when the French scientist Claude Bernard admonished his fellow investigators never to do an experiment that might harm a single person, even if the result would be highly advantageous to science and the health of others. Yet despite Bernard’s admonition, the next century was replete with experiments that put orphans, prisoners, minorities and other vulnerable populations at risk for the sake of scientific discovery. Medical progress often came at too high a human cost, something the CNN documentary exposes.
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Human experimentation surged during World War II as American scientists raced to find treatments for diseases encountered on the battlefield. This experimental enthusiasm continued into the Cold War years, as the United States competed with the Soviet Union for scientific knowledge. In both eras, a utilitarian mind-set trumped concerns about research subjects.
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