Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Should Science Be Free from Ideology?

The latest newsletter of Nebraskans Concerned for Ethical Research is ready to read right here. You'll see there's some changes going on with this excellent organization, changes that will improve and extend their very important work. Check it out. And especially note this quick-hit item...

Your Turn: Questions from the Public

In this space, we feature actual questions we get from phone calls, e-mails, and road shows. Please contact NCER with a question you would like answered in this space.

Q: Shouldn’t science be free to go wherever it can without interference from concerns
based on ideology?

A: Ideology comes from the Greek words for “idea” and “word.” An ideology is a coherent
expression of ideas united by a guiding ethic. There’s no such thing as “neutral” research, especially when human life is involved.

Ethical research requires that two questions be answered: 1) Can we do it? 2) Should we do it? If research is to be an ideology-free zone, shall we scrap the Nuremberg Code on research involving human beings? It was established to prevent experimental horrors such as those perpetrated by the Nazis.

What about the Declarations of Helsinki and Geneva, and other impositions of ideology on research? What about the Institutional Review Board at the University of Nebraska Medical Center? UNMC says the IRB was established “to assure the protection of all human subjects in research projects.”

More ideology.

Fortunately, as you see in the pages of
this newsletter, ethical ideology and progress are not mutually exclusive.