Friday, September 14, 2007

Laud Humphreys Remembered

Scott McLemee's essay, "Wide-Stance Sociology" (Inside Higher Ed, 12 September 2007) uses Senator Larry Craig's arrest as a news hook for a discussion of the life and career of sociologist Laud Humphreys. Humphreys's 1960s research on men who found male lovers in public restrooms is a touchstone for advocates of IRB review of observational research. But as McLemee and some of the comments make clear, the case was far more nuanced than the medical-research scandals that inspired the federal requirement for ethical review, nor was his use of deliberate deception in any way typical of the work of the social scientists who now find themselves constrained by IRBs.

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