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1. Why are ethics so important to scientific research?
Anytime any scientific research or experiment is performed, ethics has to play a major role in decision making. Ethics in research will prevent any types of biases and will also prevent any type falsification of the results or procedures performed. Inherently certain types of research or experiments will require the use of live test subjects. To prevent any unnecessary harm to another living creature, many companies or agencies have adopted a strict code of conduct and ethical behavior. Without these guidelines any and everything is permitted no matter how brutal or immoral it may be. The Tuskegee experiments are a great example of what happens when regulations are not adhered to and basic human morality is not used.
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The Tuskegee experiments were conducted by the Tuskegee Institute in 1932 rural Alabama on poor African American males suffering from syphilis. The participants were told the experiment was to study, prevent and treat a syphilis outbreak. The participants were told they would be paid for their efforts and given medication as treatment. In reality the institute gave the participants placebos with the goal of studying how syphilis progresses and the long term side effects. The experiment was ethically wrong because the research lied about their intentions. This experiment caused major psychological and physical damage to these men and their families. The experiment was only supposed to be conducted for 6 months, but lasted almost 40 years until a formal investigation was conducted.
2. Review the 5 major theories of human development (Psychoanalytic, Behaviorism, Cognitive, Humanism and Evolutionary) Explain your chosen theory and why you think it best describes human development.)
My chosen theory to describe human development is the theory of cognitive development proposed by Jean Piaget. Piaget’s theory describes how people go through different stages of development in life that is normally separated by age, physical and psychological achievements. Piaget’s theory has 4 stages and a person must go through them all in order to reach the highest level of human development and intelligence.
The initial stage is called the sensorimotor stage that begins from birth to roughly 2 years of age. At this stage a person learns what object permanence is and most of our development is learned through our 5 senses. The second stage is known as preoperational and covers ages between 2-7 years old. In this stage our brains are not quite adept at figuring out complex mental problems but we do learn that certain symbols or gestures have other meanings. At this stage a human is normally learning how to speak and develops a sense of self. The next stage is called the concrete-operational stage and describes the ages between ages 7-11. In this stage a human generally develops the ability to figure out complex operations learn deductive reasoning. Humans also become less selfish in their thinking and realize that others may not think as they do. The fourth stage is the formal operation stage which is between the ages of 12 and until death. In this stage a person develops the ability to think rationally about abstract ideas and people also develop a deeper understanding of themselves and others. I feel this is the best way to understand human development because it illustrates a pattern of lifelong learning through stages.
3. Explain some of the ramifications of the Human Genome Project
The human genome project was a long term research project consisting of multiple countries, with the aim of accurately identifying an estimated 30,000 genes in the human DNA. Doing this would give researchers a better understanding of the genes involved in certain disorders and give us a better idea of how to treat them. The idea of decoding the human genome can be looked at as altruistic, but in the wrong hands it can easily morph into something that is used for discrimination.
In the wrong hands the knowledge of what makes certain people more prone to certain conditions can be used as a way to dehumanize one group of people or elevate another to a status that is “superior” in their eyes. Between 1905 and 1975 Sweden carried out eugenics on people considered to be insane or socially inept. The Swedish government forcibly chemically castrated thousands of people in an attempt to keep the people they saw as inferior from breeding. If they had the exact scientific knowledge of the human genome project, the list of undesirable people could have been greatly expanded.
The issue of how the researchers were getting their samples is another ethical concern of the human genome project. Fortunately the researchers put in place a program that addressed ethical issues known as The Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications program or ELSI. This program was designed to address issues such as the privacy of genetic information, the use of this genetic testing in practical medical settings, the consent of participants and lastly the education of the public and medical professionals on what genetic testing is.
4. If sex selection were allowed, give several possible consequences
Sex selection is controversial topic that has greatly affected places such as China and India. Sex selection is the favor of one gender over the other when it comes to having kids. It is mostly used to control a population of people when it gets out of hand or for families to have their desired choice of baby gender. In some instances when the desired sex of the child is unfavorable, abortion and child abandonment takes place.
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In 1979, to control the population size, China implemented a one child policy. This policy stated that a family was only allowed to have one child except for when the first child was a female. In Chinese culture a male heir is the one that takes care of their elderly parents thus making them more desirable. This led to much discrimination against female babies and led parents to abort their female children, kill them after birth or sell them into slavery to different countries. The consequences of China using sex selection were a disproportionate ratio of males to females.
In some instances sex selection can be a positive act. Some people are carriers for certain diseases that will only show up in children if both parents are carriers. There are some diseases that are X-linked and typically only attack males such as hemophilia which is a blood clotting disorder. To prevent that, parents who are positive for the recessive gene may undergo sex selection to decrease the likelihood of their child being diagnosed with that illness.
- Berger, K. S. (2019). Invitation to the life span. New York, NY: Worth Publishers, Macmillan Learning
- Human Experimentation: An Introduction to the Ethical Issues. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.pcrm.org/ethical-science/human-experimentation-an-introduction-to-the-ethical-issues
- Eftekhaari, T. E., Nejatizadeh, A. A., Rajaei, M., Soleimanian, S., Fallahi, S., Ghaffarzadegan, R., & Mahmoudi, F. (2015, May 19). Ethical considerations in sex selection. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4456876/.
- Collins, F. S., McMurray, J. J. V., Ganz, T., Hswen, Y., Brownstein, J. S., & National Human Genome Research Institute. (1999, July 1). Medical and Societal Consequences of the Human Genome Project: NEJM. Retrieved from https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199907013410106.
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