Tag Archives: # BCM

Critique of Marsden & Melander’s ‘Historical Cases of Unethical Research’ (2001)

Serena Marsden and Melissa Melander’s academic article, Historical Cases of Unethical Research (2001) is in most ways an effective, accurate and succinct account of the history of unethical research and the development of ethical codes and regulatory bodies responsible for enforcing ethical standards and protecting human subjects involved in research, such as the Belmont Report and the Institutional Review Board. Some of the key factors that make this text authoritative are Marsden and Melander’s use of an objective, analytical writing form suited to their academic audience and the content of this article, as well as their examination of a wide variety of significant historical case studies.

The purpose of Marsden and Melander’s article is to analyse how and why particular historical cases of unethical research have influenced the way human subjects are treated in contemporary research practices. In order to effectively explore this topic Marsden and Melander investigate five of the most significant unethical research studies of the 20th century. The accuracy and succinctness of Marsden and Melander’s investigations into these cases, and in particular their analyses of the treatment of the human subjects involved in each study and the ethical questions raised by each study, such as subjects’ rights to autonomy and self-determination, beneficence, justice, privacy, confidentiality and anonymity, and non-maleficence, is one of the critical aspects of this article that makes it so effective. These studies include:

  1. The horrifying medical and scientific experiments conducted by Nazi physicians in German concentration and extermination camps between 1933 and 1945.
  2. Stanley Milgram’s 1961 experiment on the nature of obedience and authority when one’s conscience is questioned.
  3. The 1932 Tuskegee Syphilis Study involving four hundred poor African-American men.
  4. The Willowbrook Hepatitus study conducted from 1963 to 1966 on a group of uninformed mentally disabled children.
  5. Laud Humphrey’s “tearoom sex” study of impersonal homosexual acts committed by males in public restrooms in the mid-1960s (Marsden & Melander, 2001: 1-3).

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Being an article published by the University of North Dakota Press, the audience for Historical Cases of Unethical Research (2001) would primarily consist of academics studying or interested in the history of unethical research and the development of ethical codes and regulatory bodies responsible for enforcing ethical standards and protecting human subjects. As a result of this, Marsden and Melander employ an objective and analytical writing form that aims to communicate the relevant information as clearly and accurately as possible, however, the authors also maintain a definite position throughout the text. This is possible as a result of this article’s content, which includes cases that are so inhumane and immoral, as well as historically distant, that any contemporary civilized reader would immediately adopt the authors’ position that this kind of treatment of human subjects in unacceptable, which enables Marsden and Melander to avoid using a subjective voice.

Like any other article, however, Marsden and Melander’s article is not perfect. Not only do the authors fail to provide any in-text citations, but the referencing produced at the bottom of the article is also highly substandard, with no definite style or method evident in their approach. Furthermore, elementary spelling and grammar mistakes can be found scattered throughout the article, such as “historical eases”, which can be found in the opening line in place of “historical cases” (Marsden & Melander, 2001: 1). Nevertheless, as a whole Marsden and Melander’s Historical Cases of Unethical Research (2001) is still a very effective, accurate and succinct article that provides a clear and authoritative analysis of its topic.

Reference List:

Marsden, S & Melander, M 2001, Historical Cases of Unethical Research, University of North Dakota Press, Grand Forks, pp 1-3.

USA’s Next Election: The Good, The Bad and The Nazi?

In the United States, “freedom of speech” is a civil right protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. However, if this speech begins to “exert a corrupting and debasing impact leading to antisocial behavior” (Volokh, 2014) than it can be deemed unprotected by this law. So, where does the advocacy of neo-Nazism fit in with this? Is it the legal right of US citizens to express their political beliefs, even if it is in Nazism, or can this be deemed as “corrupting” and “debasing” towards society?

Within this controversial and complex text are three internationally recognised and conflicting symbols: the Nazi swastika, the American flag and the Confederate Flag of the South. The reason that these three symbols are being displayed by this group of protestors is that these are members of the American Nazi Party, a political group formed in 1959 that advocates for the insertion of their ideals into American politics and law in order to “secure the existence of our people and a future for White children” (2012). This demonstration occurred in Knoxville, Tennessee in 2010 as a support rally for the ‘Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act’, a tough new anti-illegal immigration policy introduced in Arizona (Lakin, 2010). By investigating the meanings of these three symbols we can understand them in the context of this text and why they all contribute to this text’s controversy:

a) The Confederate Flag of the South – this symbol alludes to the race-based beliefs of the South’s forces in the American Civil War that held white Americans as superior to African-Americans. The large stone monument of the Treaty of Holston in the background of this photograph further reiterates this as this treaty established the legal dominance of white Americans over the indigenous Cherokee people in 1792, and the dawn of ‘white supremacy’ in America (Mastromarino, 2000).

b) The swastika symbol and Nazi salute, or “sieg heil” salute – these symbols are allusions to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party, who are notoriously remembered for their pursuit of the “Aryan master race” (Fleming, 1984) and “systematic elimination” of 6 million Jewish people between 1933 and 1945 (USHM, 2013), known as the Holocaust.

c) The American flag – this image illustrates how this political party is advocating for the inauguration of the ideologies of the South during the American Civil War and the Nazi Party during WWII into contemporary US politics and law.

These symbols, despite being representative of enemies from two different wars, are shown to be harmonious in nature by these protestors. This is a highly controversial statement due to the fact that approximately 400,000 American soldiers were killed in World War II  and another 750,000 killed in the American Civil War (Chambers, 1999), and as a result could be interpreted by many as incredibly disrespectful. But after all, that is just part of their freedom of speech, isn’t it? Does it matter if some ancient war vet gets upset or some German immigrants feel ashamed when they see these people on the 7:30 news? But then again, is it right to criminalise a person’s basic right to political expression? And if so, what does that mean for the future? These are all questions that this seemingly simple text makes one consider.

Reference List:
1. Volokh, E (2014), Freedom of Speech in the USA, Britannica.com
2. American Nazi Party (2012), Advancing National-Socialism into the 21st Century, ANP.com
3. Lakin, M (2010), Three arrests, no violence at National Socialist Rally, Knoxville News Sentinal, Knoxville
4. Mastromarino, M.A (2000), The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 9, 23 September 1791 – 29 February 1792, University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, pp. 178–180
5. Gerald Fleming (1984), Hitler and the Final Solution, University of California Press, Berkley
6. United States Holocaust Museum (2013)
7. Chambers J.W (1999), The Oxford Companion to American Military History, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 849
8. http://www.ozpolitic.com, 2014