Monday, March 4, 2013

A Credible Social Assurance

I am reading Alex John London's claims that IRBs help to "provide a 'credible social assurance' to the American people that social institutions, funded by their tax dollars and empowered to advance their health and well-being, work to: respect and affirm the moral equality of all community members; prevent the arbitrary exercise of social authority; and help create a 'market' in which the diverse stakeholders, often working to advance diverse ends, collaborate in a way that advances the common good."

I am reading Carl Elliott's accounts of the difficulties he has faced trying to use the IRB system at a public university to achieve any accountability for the burying of a drug study after it did not deliver the results a drug company wanted.

And I am re-reading Allan Brandt's Cigarette Century, which explains how tobacco companies reacted to early findings that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer. They promoted the use of filter tips, which didn't trap carcinogens but did turn brown as the cigarette burned. In 1966, Philip Morris executives noted that "the illusion of filtration is as important as the fact of filtration."

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