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Topic: Research Methods
August 26, 2013 | Posted By Marleen Eijkholt, PhD

Circumcision has been on my radar in different ways during my training as a health lawyer/bioethicist. Mostly, the issues presented in the form of ethical controversy about female circumcision; is it a form of mutilation or suppression of women on cultural/religious grounds?; as a tensions between religion, culture and resources, and sometimes in the form of questions around legality. However, these encounters were theoretical, and mostly based on extreme examples, interesting but abstract. When I saw a neonatal male circumcision (infant male circumcision: IMC) in my rounds through the hospital as a clinical ethicist, thoughts about the topic of circumcision revived even though this was male circumcision.

Witnessing this IMC, I observed the medical procedure, I saw that there were no parents at the bedside and that the child hardly cried on the sugar drip. This clinical picture was not what I expected. I never expected circumcision as such a routine procedure, seemingly performed without ritual or cultural significance at the bedside. My cultural bias took over, wondering why such an invasive procedure would be performed on a young child without capacity to consent, even though I also witnessed that the child hardly noticed it. Asking the physician about the reasons for it, he referred to the AAP statements, suggestions about health benefits, and to the fact that it is very common in America and mostly done: ‘because this is what Dads looks like’, without much thought.  Looking into the issue, I found acontemporary discussion regarding controversies about male circumcision, cultural biases and evidence based practices. I imagined and asked myself: how would I advise if I received a consult request about IMC? How should I conceive of right and wrong, also in the face of controversial evidence based studies? Especially since even the AAP encourages readers to “draw their own conclusions” (about the technical report and the primary resources). How can I assess this practice?

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.

 

March 9, 2012 | Posted By Posted By David Lemberg, M.S., D.C.

For 500 years science has built an ever-increasing knowledge base, proceeding in fits and starts and yet moving inexorably toward improved explanations of the universe in which we live. But science has reached a crossroads. Thus society, too, is similarly positioned.

Years ago, during the Enlightenment and the subsequent Industrial Revolution, Nature as such was vast and apparently infinitely replenishable. It was inconceivable that harm was being done to the environment on a large scale.

But as Inigo Montoya remarks to Vizzini in The Princess Bride, "You keep using that word [inconceivable]. I do not think it means what you think it means."

What was inconceivable then is now, appallingly, very conceivable. The outcomes of many scientific fields of inquiry have the potential to destroy the biosphere.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

February 28, 2012 | Posted By Posted By David Lemberg, M.S., D.C.

In Philosophical Essays: From Ancient Creed to Technological Man [1974], philosopher and ethicist Hans Jonas observed that "Interference with the freedom of research is a grave ethical matter by itself, yet it is like nothing against the gravity of the ethical issues posed by the eventual success of that research."

These timely commentaries should be used as the framework for upcoming decisions regarding whether to proceed with research that has the potential to end human life as we know it, specifically, research which has created an animal-to-animal model of transmission for H5N1, the avian influenza virus.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

February 2, 2012 | Posted By Ricki Lewis, PhD

"Research shows genes influence criminal behavior," proclaims a January 25 news release, setting my genetic determinism detector on high alert. 

I flashed back to the cover of the May 18, 1970 Newsweek, “Congenital Criminals?” which probed the work of Patricia Jacobs. Here’s what my human genetics textbook says on the study provoking the 1970 headline: 

“In 1965, researcher Patricia Jacobs published results of a survey among 197 inmates at Carstairs, a high-security prison in Scotland. Of twelve men with unusual chromosomes, seven had an extra Y.” 

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

July 20, 2011 | Posted By Posted By David Lemberg, M.S., D.C.

In 2008 prescription medications accounted for $291 billion in sales in the United States. In 2000, the drug industry employed more than 625 lobbyists (there are only 535 members of Congress). Big business. Big money. Big power. Power versus principles — this is an eternal dialectic. If power rules, we might as well shred the Belmont Report right now.

Universal ethical standards are meant to apply universally — not locally and selectively, at the whim of the more powerful agency. They are designed to protect the more vulnerable among us — us referring to the international community. And in an ethical world, standards of care should refer to the highest, not the lowest, common denominator.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

July 1, 2011 | Posted By Posted By David Lemberg, M.S., D.C.
Jennifer Miller
Download Podcast Click the icon to play the podcast

Jennifer Miller is the Executive Director of Bioethics International, the leading U.S. provider of person-centered bioethics programs for the healthcare, life sciences, and biotechnology sectors.

A physicist and bioethicist by training, Ms. Miller has wide-ranging interests in biomedical research and development, public health, and disaster preparedness ethics. Recently, the Susan G. Komen Foundation awarded her a grant for research and program development in biopharmaceutical ethics including nuanced questions surrounding informed consent, access, confidentiality, and conflict of interest. A powerful and effective speaker, she has been featured on CBS News and AP News and on the cover of Science Magazine’s Career section.

In our 6-30-2011 BIOETHICS TODAY conversation, Ms. Miller discusses

  • Bioethical issues in globalization of clinical research
  • The AZT 076 and Trovan cases
  • The ethics of placebo-based trials
  • Ethical relativism
  • The way forward — transparency, education, and oversight

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.

December 14, 2010 | Posted By Wayne Shelton, PhD


If you have taken a course in the philosophy of science or have thought about the essential characteristics of science you know that the scientific method is the foundation of how we distinguish scientific knowledge from mere opinion. Fundamental to scientific method is the assumption that the results of a valid study must be replicable. That is, according to the scientific method, the results of a research study that are statistically significant, i.e. not likely to be a random outcome, should be replicable in future studies using the same procedure. It is just assumed that similar results will be replicated if the study is repeated. Maybe this is why most studies with significant results are not replicated. Quite interestingly, many statistically significant results are now being shown actually to be more difficult to replicate, so claims an article called "The Truth Wears Off: Is there something wrong with the scientific method?" by Jonah Lehrer, in the December 13, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. In this article Lehrer discussed the phenomenon referred to as the “decline effect’ which purports to show from a wide range of studies that some of “our facts are losing their truth”. Perhaps this is an interesting article worth thinking about more?

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ABOUT BIOETHICS TODAY
BIOETHICS TODAY is the blog of the Alden March Bioethics Institute, presenting topical and timely commentary on issues, trends, and breaking news in the broad arena of bioethics. BIOETHICS TODAY presents interviews, opinion pieces, and ongoing articles on health care policy, end-of-life decision making, emerging issues in genetics and genomics, procreative liberty and reproductive health, ethics in clinical trials, medicine and the media, distributive justice and health care delivery in developing nations, and the intersection of environmental conservation and bioethics.
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