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Thursday, February 28, 2019

‘Three Identical Strangers’: The high cost of experimentation without ethics

Barron H. Lerner
The Washington Post
Originally published January 27, 2019

Here is an excerpt:

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.

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.

That the experiments continued after the war was especially ironic given the response to the atrocities committed by Nazi physicians in concentration camps. There, doctors performed horrific experiments designed to help German soldiers who faced extreme conditions on the battlefield. This research included deliberately freezing inmates, forcing them to ingest only seawater and amputating their limbs.

The info is here.