Ethics

Mike the Mad Biologist

Category archives for Ethics

And ‘suburban’ is code. Monday, I responded to a rich twit’s complaint about how difficult his life was at $450,000 of annual income (Note: Since then, said twit has removed the post. Fortunately, Brad ‘Deling’ DeLong is aware of all internet traditions, and has saved the post for posterity). In that post, I wrote: Perhaps…

I swear every time I go on vacation, there’s an outbreak of stupidity. One symptom is a ridiculous plaint by law professor Todd Henderson, who whines about barely getting by on $450,000 per year. No, really, I’m not kidding. I suppose the rest of us should just eat a bullet or something (and bullets are…

Saturday Sermon: The Yom Kippur Edition

If you’re Jewish, you’ll probably be reading this in a few hours, depending on your time zone. What really bugs me about the theopolitical right is their selective choosing of which parts of the Bible they will take ‘literally’ and which parts they ignore. They typically ignore this bit by my landsman Izzy, which is…

“I Was Wrong”: Some Refreshing Candor

One of science’s saving graces is that a fair number of scientists will publicly admit that they are wrong (and then there’s Marc Hauser*…). Last week, at the Human Microbiome Project meeting, Jonathan Eisen gave a talk about the GEBA project which is an effort to sequence the genomes of a diverse group of bacteria…

Ken Mehlman Is No Jackie Robinson

Marc Ambinder reports that Ken Mehlman has admitted to friends and family that he is gay (did anyone really not know?): “It’s taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life,” said Mehlman, now an executive vice-president with the New York City-based private equity firm, KKR. “Everybody has their own path…

Is Peer Review Really This Problematic?

So there’s an article that a fair number of people have gotten all het up about in The Scientist which criticizes peer reivew. I’ll state for the record that I agree with the article in that the review process needs to be much faster, and more people need to be reviewing (the burden is too…

How Not to Make Iraq-Like Mistakes Again

In the movie Quiz Show, which is about the quiz show scandals of the 1950s (and a wonderful period piece), there is a scene at the end of the movie which has always stuck with me. Van Doren, the disgraced upper-class professor who cheated, gave a teary mea culpa in front of Congress. The gallery…

For those of you who have been blissfully out of the news (not a bad thing to be doing in the summer), Harvard professor Marc Hauser has been accused of scientific fraud. It now appears that Harvard had concluded its investigation and swept the findings under the rug for months/i>: Marc Hauser’s academic career was…

One of the things that freaks out some people in the ‘hard’ sciences (and I use that term broadly) about the social sciences is that they, unlike the hard sciences, they don’t restrict themselves to positive statements, but, instead, deal with normative statements. In other (less high-falutin’) words, the social sciences don’t only try to…

BP, Scientists, and Gag Agreements

Last week, I wrote about a column by biologist Marc Lipsitch, who described a conflict of interest for scientists that has not been discussed: gag agreements for scientists who accept industry funding. In other words, if the corporate funder doesn’t like the results, nobody will hear about them. These agreements also present other problems, such…