Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, philosophy and health care

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Americans' trust in honesty, ethics of clergy hits all-time low in Gallup ranking of professions

Stoyan Zaimov
www.christianpost.com
Originally posted December 25, 2018

Americans' view of the honesty and ethics of clergy has fallen to an all-time low in a ranking of different professions released by Gallup.

The Gallup poll, conducted between Dec. 3-12 of 1,025 U.S. adults, found that only 37 percent of respondents had a "very high" or "high” opinion of the honesty and ethical standards of clergy. Forty-three percent of people gave them an average rating, while 15 percent said they had a “low” or “very low” opinion, according to the poll that was released on Dec. 21.

The margin of sampling error for the survey was identified as plus or minus 4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

Gallup noted that the 37 percent "very high" or "high" score for clergy is the lowest since it began asking the question in 1977. The historical high of 67 percent occurred back in 1985, and the score has been dropping below the overall average positive rating of 54 percent since 2009.

"The public's views of the honesty and ethics of the clergy continue to decline after the Catholic Church was rocked again this year by more abuse scandals,” Gallup noted in its observations.

The info is here.

Neuroethics Guiding Principles for the NIH BRAIN Initiative

Henry T. Greely, Christine Grady, Khara M. Ramos, Winston Chiong and others
Journal of Neuroscience 12 December 2018, 38 (50) 10586-10588
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2077-18.2018

Introduction

Neuroscience presents important neuroethical considerations. Human neuroscience demands focused application of the core research ethics guidelines set out in documents such as the Belmont Report. Various mechanisms, including institutional review boards (IRBs), privacy rules, and the Food and Drug Administration, regulate many aspects of neuroscience research and many articles, books, workshops, and conferences address neuroethics. (Farah, 2010; Link; Link). However, responsible neuroscience research requires continual dialogue among neuroscience researchers, ethicists, philosophers, lawyers, and other stakeholders to help assess its ethical, legal, and societal implications. The Neuroethics Working Group of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, a group of experts providing neuroethics input to the NIH BRAIN Initiative Multi-Council Working Group, seeks to promote this dialogue by proposing the following Neuroethics Guiding Principles (Table 1).

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

What Is the Right to Privacy?

Andrei Marmor
(2015) Philosophy & Public Affairs, 43, 1, pp 3-26

The right to privacy is a curious kind of right. Most people think that we have a general right to privacy. But when you look at the kind of issues that lawyers and philosophers label as concerns about privacy, you see widely differing views about the scope of the right and the kind of cases that fall under its purview.1 Consequently, it has become difficult to articulate the underlying interest that the right to privacy is there to protect—so much so that some philosophers have come to doubt that there is any underlying interest protected by it. According to Judith Thomson, for example, privacy is a cluster of derivative rights, some of them derived from rights to own or use your property, others from the right to your person or your right to decide what to do with your body, and so on. Thomson’s position starts from a sound observation, and I will begin by explaining why. The conclusion I will reach, however, is very different. I will argue that there is a general right to privacy grounded in people’s interest in having a reasonable measure of control over the ways in which they can present themselves (and what is theirs) to others. I will strive to show that this underlying interest justifies the right to privacy and explains its proper scope, though the scope of the right might be narrower, and fuzzier in its boundaries, than is commonly understood.

The info is here.

Debate ethics of embryo models from stem cells

Nicolas Rivron, Martin Pera, Janet Rossant, Alfonso Martinez Arias, and others
Nature
Originally posted December 12, 2018

Here are some excerpts:

Four questions

Future progress depends on addressing now the ethical and policy issues that could arise.

Ultimately, individual jurisdictions will need to formulate their own policies and regulations, reflecting their values and priorities. However, we urge funding bodies, along with scientific and medical societies, to start an international discussion as a first step. Bioethicists, scientists, clinicians, legal and regulatory specialists, patient advocates and other citizens could offer at least some consensus on an appropriate trajectory for the field.

Two outputs are needed. First, guidelines for researchers; second, a reliable source of information about the current state of the research, its possible trajectory, its potential medical benefits and the key ethical and policy issues it raises. Both guidelines and information should be disseminated to journalists, ethics committees, regulatory bodies and policymakers.

Four questions in particular need attention.

Should embryo models be treated legally and ethically as human embryos, now or in the future?

Which research applications involving human embryo models are ethically acceptable?

How far should attempts to develop an intact human embryo in a dish be allowed to proceed?

Does a modelled part of a human embryo have an ethical and legal status similar to that of a complete embryo?

The info is here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Cheyenne Psychologist And His Wife Sentenced To 37 Months In Prison For Health Care Fraud

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Wyoming
Press Release of December 4, 2018

John Robert Sink, Jr., 68, and Diane Marie Sink, 63, of Cheyenne, Wyoming, were sentenced on December 3, 2018, to serve 37 months in prison for making false statements as part of a scheme to fraudulently bill Wyoming Medicaid for mental health services, which were never provided, announced United States Attorney Mark A. Klaassen. The Sinks, who are married, were also ordered to pay over $6.2 million in restitution to the Wyoming Department of Health and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and to forfeit over $750,000 in assets traceable to the fraud, including cash, retirement accounts, vehicles, and a residence.

The Sinks were indicted in March 2018 by a federal grand jury for health care fraud, making false statements, and money laundering. At all times relevant to the indictment, John and Diane Sink operated a psychological practice in Cheyenne. John Sink, who was a licensed Ph.D. psychologist, directed mental health services. Diane Sink submitted bills to Wyoming Medicaid and managed the business and its employees. The Sinks provided services to developmentally disabled Medicaid beneficiaries and billed Medicaid for those services.

Between February 2012 and December 2016, the Sinks submitted bills to Wyoming Medicaid for $6.2 million in alleged group therapy. These bills were false and fraudulent because the services provided did not qualify as group therapy as defined by Wyoming Medicaid. The Sinks also falsely billed Medicaid for beneficiaries who were not participating in any activities, and therefore did not receive any of the claimed mental health services. When Wyoming Medicaid audited the Sinks in May 2016, the Sinks did not have necessary documentation to support their billing, so they ordered an employee to create backdated treatment plans. The Sinks then submitted these phony treatment plans to Wyoming Medicaid to justify the Sinks’ false group therapy bills, and to cover up their fraudulent billing scheme.

The pressor is here.

The ends justify the meanness: An investigation of psychopathic traits and utilitarian moral endorsement

JustinBalasha and Diana M.Falkenbach
Personality and Individual Differences
Volume 127, 1 June 2018, Pages 127-132

Abstract

Although psychopathy has traditionally been synonymous with immorality, little research exists on the ethical reasoning of psychopathic individuals. Recent examination of psychopathy and utilitarianism suggests that psychopaths' moral decision-making differs from nonpsychopaths (Koenigs et al., 2012). The current study examined the relationship between psychopathic traits (PPI-R, Lilienfeld & Widows, 2005; TriPM, Patrick, 2010) and utilitarian endorsement (moral dilemmas, Greene et al., 2001) in a college sample (n = 316). The relationships between utilitarian decisions and triarchic dimensions were explored and empathy and aggression were examined as mediating factors. Hypotheses were partially supported, with Disinhibition and Meanness traits relating to personal utilitarian decisions; aggression partially mediated the relationship between psychopathic traits and utilitarian endorsements. Implications and future directions are further discussed.

Highlights

• Authors examined the relationship between psychopathy and utilitarian decision-making.

• Empathy and aggression were explored as mediating factors.

• Disinhibition and Meanness were positively related to personal utilitarian decisions.

• Meanness, Coldheartedness, and PPI-R-II were associated with personal utilitarian decisions.

• Aggression partially mediated the relationship between psychopathy and utilitarian decisions.

The research can be found here.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Air Force Psychologist Found Guilty of Sexual Assault Under Guise of Exposure Therapy

Caitlin Foster
Business Insider
Originally published Dec. 10, 2018

A psychologist at Travis Air Force Base in California was found guilty on Friday of sexually assaulting military-officer patients who were seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, The Daily Republic reported.

Heath Sommer may face up to 11 years and eight months in prison after receiving a guilty verdict on six felony counts of sexual assault, according to the Republic.

Sommer used a treatment known as "exposure therapy" to lure his patients, who were military officers with previous sexual-assault experiences, into performing sexual activity, the Republic reported.

According to charges brought by Brian Roberts, the deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case, Sommer assaulted his patients through "fraudulent representation that the sexual penetration served a professional purpose when it served no professional purpose," the Republic reported.

The Amazing Ways Artificial Intelligence Is Transforming Genomics and Gene Editing

Bernard Marr
Forbes.com
Originally posted November 16, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

Another thing experts are working to resolve in the process of gene editing is how to prevent off-target effects—when the tools mistakenly work on the wrong gene because it looks similar to the target gene.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning help make gene editing initiatives more accurate, cheaper and easier.

The future for AI and gene technology is expected to include pharmacogenomics, genetic screening tools for newborns, enhancements to agriculture and more. While we can't predict the future, one thing is for sure: AI and machine learning will accelerate our understanding of our own genetic makeup and those of other living organisms.

The info is here.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The bad news on human nature, in 10 findings from psychology

Christian Jarrett
aeon.co
Originally published 

Here is an excerpt:

We are vain and overconfident. Our irrationality and dogmatism might not be so bad were they married to some humility and self-insight, but most of us walk about with inflated views of our abilities and qualities, such as our driving skills, intelligence and attractiveness – a phenomenon that’s been dubbed the Lake Wobegon Effect after the fictional town where ‘all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average’. Ironically, the least skilled among us are the most prone to overconfidence (the so-called Dunning-Kruger effect). This vain self-enhancement seems to be most extreme and irrational in the case of our morality, such as in how principled and fair we think we are. In fact, even jailed criminals think they are kinder, more trustworthy and honest than the average member of the public.

We are moral hypocrites. It pays to be wary of those who are the quickest and loudest in condemning the moral failings of others – the chances are that moral preachers are as guilty themselves, but take a far lighter view of their own transgressions. In one study, researchers found that people rated the exact same selfish behaviour (giving themselves the quicker and easier of two experimental tasks on offer) as being far less fair when perpetuated by others. Similarly, there is a long-studied phenomenon known as actor-observer asymmetry, which in part describes our tendency to attribute other people’s bad deeds, such as our partner’s infidelities, to their character, while attributing the same deeds performed by ourselves to the situation at hand. These self-serving double standards could even explain the common feeling that incivility is on the increase – recent research shows that we view the same acts of rudeness far more harshly when they are committed by strangers than by our friends or ourselves.