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Wider scientific ethics


Greg Boyles
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Medical research and the medical profession have fairly strict ethical oversight in the form of ethics committees and the Australian Medical Council (and similar organisations in other countries).

 

These system are quite strict and put the onus on the researchers to show that their research, and the resulting technology, will do no harm to individuals or at least that the benefits far out weigh the risks. Generally it is successful resulting in high medical standards in the west.

 

 

 

Why should such a system not be broadened across the globe to all scientific disciplines? I.E. As well a purely human and animal ethics perspective, it should also have a wider ecological perspective

 

 

The idea would be to make science and individual scientists more accountable for the long term and wider implcations of the technologies they develop.

 

 

For example, perhaps such a system might have averted the global disaster of DDT.

Edited by Greg Boyles
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These system are quite strict and put the onus on the researchers to show that their research, and the resulting technology, will do no harm to individuals or at least that the benefits far out weigh the risks. Generally it is successful resulting in high medical standards in the west.

 

For medical and biological sciences there are indeed tight controls over the treatment of people and animals in any experiments or trials. Well at least in the West.

 

There are health and safety rules to follow here in the UK when designing any experiment.

 

 

Why should such a system not be broadened across the globe to all scientific disciplines?

 

Most fundamental science does not have immediate applications and thus the question of ethics is not so easy.

 

 

The idea would be to make science and individual scientists more accountable for the long term and wider implcations of the technologies they develop.

 

 

Maybe, and some scientists do think carefully about ethics. For example I see many computer packages that explicitly say not for military use.

 

Though overall I see it as societies role not to use science in a way harmful to society or ecology. For example, should we place guilt on Einstein for the atomic bomb?

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Though overall I see it as societies role not to use science in a way harmful to society or ecology. For example, should we place guilt on Einstein for the atomic bomb?

 

In my opinion that is just passing the buck and is exactly the same argument that the American gun lobby uses to justify swamping their society with firearms. "Guns don't kill people, people kill people"................"people kill people more easily and effectively with guns".

 

It just aint good enough.

 

Scientists know, or should know, better than wider society and therefore have an moral obligation to see that their discoveries and technologies are not misused by it.

 

Perhaps if the wider scientific community and other segements of society got together and put a restraining hand on the shoulders of over eagre scientists then the problems with DDT may have been anticipated and averted.

 

As I have said in previous threads, outside the medical profession, science is a bit of a wild west with lots of individuals doing their own thing without anyone keeping their eye on the larger global picture.

 

For instance the current global food crisis and global warming is a direct result of the massive population expansion that was enabled through the development of fossil fuels and mechanised farming. And it seems the only answer to this problem from much of the scientific community is to produce even more food. As with all other animal species, the response from the human population will undoubtedly be to continue expanding until the technology and the global food supply runs out and the population crashes.

 

Even as a student of science myself, I can't avoid the conclusion that scientists themselves are equally (to politicians, business and the general public) responsible for our global predicament.

 

If polciticians and the general public wont act to fix this then the onus is on scientists (being in a position of superior knowledge) to do something about it as they are currently facilitating the irresponsibility of politicians, business and the general public.

 

The only way to do that is to bring some sort of 'law' to the scientific wild west through a global scientific regulatory body to which all scientists must be members and are bound by its rulings.

 

If medical science can function well under such a regime then there is no reason why wider science cannot also function well.

Edited by Greg Boyles
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In my opinion that is just passing the buck and is exactly the same argument that the American gun lobby uses to justify swamping their society with firearms. "Guns don't kill people, people kill people"................"people kill people more easily and effectively with guns".

 

It just aint good enough.

 

Scientists know, or should know, better than wider society and therefore have an moral obligation to see that their discoveries and technologies are not misused by it.

 

Baloney.

 

How is a scientists supposed to know the effects of a compound that they have not yet discovered? Further, a scientist working for a company does not have all that much sway in how the results of their work is used. Your chosen example, DDT, was not found to be an insecticide until 35 years after it was first synthesized. That the companies that manufactured and sold it did not do sufficient study of its effects can't be the fault of the people who did prior work on it. Patents don't last forever, and not even 35 years. How, precisely, were scientists supposed to stop its production and use, other than exactly what they did — study and document the problems it caused?

 

Further, you have situations like global warming, where the political structure — people actually empowered to effect policy — are actively subverting science and the efforts of scientists.

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In my opinion that is just passing the buck and is exactly the same argument that the American gun lobby uses to justify swamping their society with firearms. "Guns don't kill people, people kill people"................"people kill people more easily and effectively with guns".

 

It is more like blaming the steel industry for making steel that can be used to make guns, which then can be used to kill people.

 

 

Scientists know, or should know, better than wider society and therefore have an moral obligation to see that their discoveries and technologies are not misused by it.

 

I am sure most scientists do think about this, but it is not obvious what the wider implications of their works are.

 

As I have said in previous threads, outside the medical profession, science is a bit of a wild west with lots of individuals doing their own thing without anyone keeping their eye on the larger global picture.

 

How can this be the case given all the hoops to jump through to get funding?

 

If medical science can function well under such a regime then there is no reason why wider science cannot also function well.

 

Not all scientists have anything to do with animal experimentation or drug trials on humans or similar. Thus questions of ethical treatment are non-existent. If one is dealing with potential pollutants, harmful chemicals etc then there is, or at leasts here in the UK rules and regulations to follow.

 

So what are you suggesting?

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It is more like blaming the steel industry for making steel that can be used to make guns, which then can be used to kill people.

 

I am sure most scientists do think about this, but it is not obvious what the wider implications of their works are.

Conceded, then perhaps the strict oversight should come when pure research is being converted to specific industrial applications where its misuse could be better predicted by an appropriate multidisciplinary body.

That is how it works when new drugs are being developed for the medical profession.

 

How can this be the case given all the hoops to jump through to get funding?

 

These days that seems to have more to do with whether or not the research will be profitable for the university in the short to medium term rather than if that research will bring long term benefit to human civilisation or not.

 

Not all scientists have anything to do with animal experimentation or drug trials on humans or similar. Thus questions of ethical treatment are non-existent. If one is dealing with potential pollutants, harmful chemicals etc then there is, or at leasts here in the UK rules and regulations to follow.

 

I am not refering to only human or animal ethics. I am suggesting that the science ethics systems be unified across the globe to produce one global standard and that it be broadened to global ecological considerations as well as narrow human and animal ethics.

 

Animal ethics committess could never have predicted the disasterous effects of DDT because their focus is far too narrow. Perhaps if soil scientists, ecologists and organic chemists combined their expertise in an ethics committee, charged with determining whether or not DDT should be manufactured on an industrial scale, then they might have predicted this and decided that it should not proceed.

 

 

 

 

 

This is the whole problem with our society - no one, including scientists, is prepared to accept their proportion of the responsibility for our increasingly dire global circumstances. It is always some one else's falt.

 

I am saying that the buck has to stop some where and, as scientists have played a central role our current global predicament and they are in a position of superior knowledge, it should stop with them.

 

Forget his name but that american scientist who was involved with development of the atomic bomb and who gave the technology to the soviets in order to prevent the yanks from misusing it could clearly, if belatedly, see this and he made the ultimate sacrifice in being branded a traitor.

 

Baloney.

 

How is a scientists supposed to know the effects of a compound that they have not yet discovered? Further, a scientist working for a company does not have all that much sway in how the results of their work is used. Your chosen example, DDT, was not found to be an insecticide until 35 years after it was first synthesized. That the companies that manufactured and sold it did not do sufficient study of its effects can't be the fault of the people who did prior work on it. Patents don't last forever, and not even 35 years. How, precisely, were scientists supposed to stop its production and use, other than exactly what they did — study and document the problems it caused?

 

Further, you have situations like global warming, where the political structure — people actually empowered to effect policy — are actively subverting science and the efforts of scientists.

 

Let us consider what happens in the political and business spheres.

 

A CEO, prime minister or president gains power and embarks on a political or business strategy. If that strategy goes bad due to the president, prime minister or CEO failing to foresee are particular detrimental scenario resulting from their strategy then they are held accountable regardless of their best inentions. Such accountability often makes them very cautious about what they say and doo while in power.

 

In the applied science community there is little or no accountability beyond falsification of data and plagerism etc.

 

Why should there not be some level of wider accountability similar to that in the political and business spheres?

 

For example I suspect I would not be alone in western society in being open to seeing the scientists responsible for facilliating the industrial development of DDT to be held accountable for their share in the blame for this global disaster.

 

Especially in the scientific community, individual career interests should not trump wider responsibilities.

 

The scientific community spends far too much time asking whether they can acheive something and far too little time asking whether they should acheive something in terms of the bigger global picture.

Edited by Greg Boyles
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Let us consider what happens in the political and business spheres.

 

A CEO, prime minister or president gains power and embarks on a political or business strategy. If that strategy goes bad due to the president, prime minister or CEO failing to foresee are particular detrimental scenario resulting from their strategy then they are held accountable regardless of their best inentions. Such accountability often makes them very cautious about what they say and doo while in power.

 

Generally when things go bad CEOs get fired with a nice golden parachute. Politicians go on the lecture circuit. Bad example.

 

In the applied science community there is little or no accountability beyond falsification of data and plagerism etc.

 

Why should there not be some level of wider accountability similar to that in the political and business spheres?

 

For example I suspect I would not be alone in western society in being open to seeing the scientists responsible for facilliating the industrial development of DDT to be held accountable for their share in the blame for this global disaster.

 

Especially in the scientific community, individual career interests should not trump wider responsibilities.

 

Appeal to popularity is a logical fallacy.

 

Basically you would quash scientific inquiry if you held scientists responsible for negative consequences of a discovery. You are, in effect, killing the messenger.

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Generally when things go bad CEOs get fired with a nice golden parachute. Politicians go on the lecture circuit. Bad example.

That is only a fairly recent phenomenum from what I heard today from a member of the British business community discussing business ethics in the wake of the GFC.

 

 

 

Appeal to popularity is a logical fallacy.

Well naturally anyone or any group accused of not being accountable is going to deny it. In that way the scientific community is no different to business and finance community in the wake of the GFC. Accountability is usually imposed on such segments of the community mainly by those outside it, perhaps also by a minority within that community have have a wider conscience.

 

Basically you would quash scientific inquiry if you held scientists responsible for negative consequences of a discovery. You are, in effect, killing the messenger.

 

The medical profession and research functions just fine and with high standards under such a regime and is not in any way curtailed.

 

If medical research can function with strict over sight then there is no reason to believe that science in general cannot function equally as well also with higher standards.

 

And even if scientific progress was slowed a little then that is not necessarily a bad thing given that scientific progress has contributed to leading us to global warming, peak fish and peak oil etc

 

The fact is that human civilisation is at a precipice and the time of everyone being able to get away with the phrase "It's not my problem" is over. Everyone including the science community is MUST start taking responsibility for their part in this looming human catastrophe. It is time for individual scientific careers and prestige to take a back seat to some form of global science ethics.

 

As gate keepers of the technology that enables unethical politicians and business people etc to serve their own narrow interests and $%&* up the planet in the process, the science community is in a potentially powerful position to do something about preserving planet Earth in a state suitable for habitation by future generations.

 

The first step is to bring all scientists under some sort of global regulatory body similar to the medical organisations in individual countries.

Edited by Greg Boyles
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That is only a fairly recent phenomenum from what I heard today from a member of the British business community discussing business ethics in the wake of the GFC.

 

I don't know what "the GFC" is. This is the first time anyone has mentioned it in this thread.

 

Well naturally anyone or any group accused of not being accountable is going to deny it. In that way the scientific community is no different to business and finance community in the wake of the GFC. Accountability is usually imposed on such segments of the community mainly by those outside it, perhaps also by a minority within that community have have a wider conscience.

 

That doesn't mean that appeal to popularity isn't a logical fallacy. Instead of moving the goalposts, you need to make a better argument.

 

The medical profession and research functions just fine and with high standards under such a regime and is not in any way curtailed.

 

If medical research can function with strict over sight then there is no reason to believe that science in general cannot function equally as well also with higher standards.

 

This is not an apt comparison. The outcomes of some/most medical research is tested before it turns into an available drug, but that doesn't mean that the drug doesn't cause damage before it completes the test (or sometimes after). If I come up with a new drug and I properly go through the hoops of phase I-III trials, am I personally responsible for any death or damage that is caused along the way? What if the drug is approved and it's only after it goes into widespread use that some problem is found. Again, am I personally responsible for this?

 

And who is to say that medical research is not curtailed in any way? I think it's quite obviously false. Though I certainly don't condone or suggest that it should be allowed, if certain experimentation on humans were allowed, research would very likely progress faster.

 

And even if scientific progress was slowed a little then that is not necessarily a bad thing given that scientific progress has contributed to leading us to global warming, peak fish and peak oil etc

 

And people and politicians seem uninterested in the warnings and fixes that science has offered up. This responsibility seems very asymmetric.

 

The fact is that human civilisation is at a precipice and the time of everyone being able to get away with the phrase "It's not my problem" is over. Everyone including the science community is MUST start taking responsibility for their part in this looming human catastrophe. It is time for individual scientific careers and prestige to take a back seat to some form of global science ethics.

 

You haven't shown that they haven't. If I tell you that it hasn't been cold enough to form a thick layer of ice on the lake and you go skating anyway, who is responsible if you fall in? It sounds like you are saying that it's my fault, because I didn't do enough to stop you.

 

As gate keepers of the technology that enables unethical politicians and business people etc to serve their own narrow interests and $%&* up the planet in the process, the science community is in a potentially powerful position to do something about preserving planet Earth in a state suitable for habitation by future generations.

 

The first step is to bring all scientists under some sort of global regulatory body similar to the medical organisations in individual countries.

 

You are passing the buck. If politicians and businessmen are unethical, we should regulate them. They have the power. You are trying to place the burden of a group that doesn't have very much.

 

I think that the scientific community does a better job of policing itself against fraud than medical organizations do. But the kind of policing you want is impossible, because it requires knowledge that we, by the very nature of the job, don't have — you can't tell what you will find as the result of research. Which is why you do the research.

 

As applied to basic research, the basic premise is fatally flawed. Scientists construct and test models of how nature behaves, and disseminate this information. But the behavior of nature that is discovered is already there. Quite literally, you would be blaming the messenger. It is holding Galileo responsible for finding out that the earth is not stationary, because you don't like the implications.

 

It is also flawed as applied to technology and invention. Scientists don't make the laws. It was scientific inquiry that led to DDT being pulled from use and helped with the creation of the EPA and passage of other legislation in the US (and similar elsewhere, I would guess). If you don't like the level of testing that has to go on before a product can be brought to market, change the laws. That's YOUR responsibility. But finger-pointing is easier, isn't it?

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Logical fallacy? Is that how you dismiss an idea that you don't agree with? How is it a logical fallacy?

 

Medicine would progress faster if experimentation on humans was allowed? An example of direction that science should not be permitted to travel in. Medical/drug regulation and standard are not perfect but they are considerably better than they would be if drug company scientists etc were unregulated.

 

And drug companies are certainly accountable for %^&* ups if not the individual scientists. They generally get sued by the thousands of patients who are injured by their faulty products. I guess the scientists involved are indirectly accountable for these %^&* ups. If it is serious enough I guess the drug companies would sack them.

 

If politicians and business people refuse to listen then scientists could and should withdraw their services. If all scientists had to be e member of a union like global regulatory body then they could be compelled to do so. As I have said they are in a position of superior knowledge and therefore higher moral obligation. "It's not my problem" type attitude is not acceptible for scientists in my opinion. You no doubt are aghast, like the rest of us, at negligent doctors being protected by subordinate hospital staff and administrators. I am aghast at scientists who put their careers ahead of wider obligations to their society.

 

Skating on thin ice......well councils are often found accountible by courts these days for such things if they have failed to put up adequate warning signs. There is a big difference in legal obligations between a member of the general public being aware that the ice is thin and a person in a position of authority being aware that the ice is thin. I put it to you that scientists are in a position of authority due to their superior knowledge. Perhaps this sort of thing is a factor in why the general public in increasingly distrusting of science and scientists.

 

"I think that the scientific community does a better job of policing itself against fraud than medical organizations do. But the kind of policing you want is impossible, because it requires knowledge that we, by the very nature of the job, don't have — you can't tell what you will find as the result of research. Which is why you do the research."

 

I am primarily refering to applied science as opposed to pure research. It is one thing to discover DDT and detail its chemical properties noting that it cannot be borken down by any known living organisam. It is entirely another to then help chemical companies manufacture DDT to be sold as an insecticide without further research being done to determine what will happen to it in the global ecosystem once it is sprayed on a wide scale.

 

"You are passing the buck. If politicians and businessmen are unethical, we should regulate them. They have the power. You are trying to place the burden of a group that doesn't have very much. "

 

Scientists have some power to and are entirely capable of exercising it if they choose. IF they were members of a union like body then they could have all banded together and refused to develop means of producing DDT on an industrial scale. At present the companies just go to the next scientist if one refuses. That is what unions are all about - taking some of the power away from politicians and big business.

 

Scientists faciliated the foolishness of politicians and business, concerning DDT, by developing means to produce it on an industrial scale. Therefore they share some of the blame!

 

Galileo is a poor example. Knowing that the the earth goes around the sun is either neutral to the health of the global ecosystem on which we depend, so why should biggots be allowed to suppress such knowledge. But there is no question that a toxic chemical that cannot be broken down by any known organism is going to be detrimental to the global ecosystem and ultimately to human health. We need a global union like science body to determine such matters. I.E. By bringing multiple scientific disciplines together and spending a little more time on whether a particular technology should be developed and a little less time on how it can be developed.

 

Changing the laws is my responsibility......not good enough! Scientific knowledge is nearly always ahead of the knowledge of law makers who are continually playing catch up with new technology. Either the scientists have to slow down and allow the law makers to keep pace or they have to start regulating themselves from the position of their superior knowledge.

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Just a quick note about DDT:

 

Do you realise that DDT is currently in use in impoverished regions of Africa for use as a mosquito repellent? It's not sprayed on plant matter, simply on the outside of huts (IIRC). It saves thousands of lives that might otherwise have been taken by malaria - or it would, if government legislation didn't make it so ridiculously hard to obtain, forcing the idea to be almost completely abandoned.

 

Just because the use of technology is detrimental when used in one context does not make it so in others. Thalidomide is another such example. As a treatment for morning sickness it was disastrous, but it is quite safe and effective for use in treating leprosy. Censoring the development of technology on the basis of it having damaging side effects for one particular application is incredibly blind-sighted and ultimately more detrimental to human society, in my opinion.

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Just a quick note about DDT:

 

Do you realise that DDT is currently in use in impoverished regions of Africa for use as a mosquito repellent? It's not sprayed on plant matter, simply on the outside of huts (IIRC). It saves thousands of lives that might otherwise have been taken by malaria - or it would, if government legislation didn't make it so ridiculously hard to obtain, forcing the idea to be almost completely abandoned.

 

Just because the use of technology is detrimental when used in one context does not make it so in others. Thalidomide is another such example. As a treatment for morning sickness it was disastrous, but it is quite safe and effective for use in treating leprosy. Censoring the development of technology on the basis of it having damaging side effects for one particular application is incredibly blind-sighted and ultimately more detrimental to human society, in my opinion.

 

I do not agree with you or the scientists involved that DDT can be used safely. Reagrdless of whether it is sprayed on crops or sprayed on huts it is still a toxin that does not totally biodegradable and accumulates in the ecosystem ultimately effecting the health of everyone else on the planet. Preserving the lives of Africans does not trump the health of everyone else on the planet and of the global ecosystem itself. Nor do the career prospects and humanitarian ideals of scientists and aid workers involved with such foolish schemes.

 

Would you use DDT in your own house, on yourself and on your own children???? It has been linked to diabetes and to cancer for example.

 

If you want to help those africans then give them a free supply of aerogard or pyrethrin and mosquito nets.

 

This philosophy of some scientists and aid workers of preserving life at ANY cost is becoming a danger to the entire planet, the Homo sapiens and all other species that currently live on this planet. And indeed it is often detrimental to the individuals themselves and, in the long term, their sociesties.

 

As for Thalidomide, presumeably it is totally biodredable and can be used safely in a medical context hence in this case I would agree that there not be a total prohibition on it. Medical regulatory bodies have no doubt become stricter on drug trials since the thalidomide disaster, hence such a disaster is less likely to be repeated.

 

As I have previously said, medical regulation is not perfect but it has never the less substantially raised medical standards in the west over all. The same could be true of a more generalised regulatory body for wider science.

Edited by Greg Boyles
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Why would I spray DDT on myself or my nonexistent children? I live in a developed country where I can quite easily go and buy Aeroguard. Kind of makes it a bit of a pointless endeavor for me. And who said anything about spraying it on people, anyway? Only you and that strawman of yours.

 

I'll agree that DDT shouldn't be used everywhere and anywhere - and it's not, either. It is used in cases where other current alternatives simply are not viable. A free supply of aeroguard? Do you realise how expensive that would be? Pyrethoid insecticides were great in the South Americas, but have not seen as much success in Africa. There is no such thing as a one method fixes all type approach in this, since there are many, many species of mosquito and many parasites to go with them.

 

And as for being "completely" non-biodegradable: DDT has a half life from about 28 days and up, depending on where you spray it, etc.

 

Re. thalidomide: Regulatory bodies worldwide stepped up their game in terms of what tests they required - even America, who actually made the smart enough to say no thank you to thalidomide - but its biggest effect was the recognition by organic and medicinal chemists that stereochemistry plays a massive role in bioactivity profiles, etc. The other enantiomer of thalidomide is actually harmless. It's metabolised back to the not-so-nice enantiomer in the liver, but still.

 

Anyway, there's no point in being caught up in the examples, as they is irrelevant to the argument. My point was this:

 

Censoring the development of technology on the basis of it having damaging side effects for one particular application is incredibly blind-sighted and ultimately more detrimental to human society, in my opinion.
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Why would I spray DDT on myself or my nonexistent children? I live in a developed country where I can quite easily go and buy Aeroguard. Kind of makes it a bit of a pointless endeavor for me. And who said anything about spraying it on people, anyway? Only you and that strawman of yours.

 

No not a strawman because you have jumped to an incorrect conclusion. I did not say to spray ddt on yourself, I said spray it all over the house that you and your hypothetical children occupy.

 

So you wouldn't use it yourself but it is good enough for peasant africans......says a lot about the attitudes of people who advocate this.

 

I'll agree that DDT shouldn't be used everywhere and anywhere - and it's not, either. It is used in cases where other current alternatives simply are not viable. A free supply of aeroguard? Do you realise how expensive that would be? Pyrethoid insecticides were great in the South Americas, but have not seen as much success in Africa. There is no such thing as a one method fixes all type approach in this, since there are many, many species of mosquito and many parasites to go with them.

 

I do not agree that insecticides like DDT should be used under any circumstances regardless of loss of life due to malaria. I do not agree with the notion preservation of life at any wider cost. If pyrethrin and aerogade are not practical in Africa then free mosquito nets will have to suffice.

 

 

And as for being "completely" non-biodegradable: DDT has a half life from about 28 days and up, depending on where you spray it, etc.

 

I noted that as I was reading and altered my statement to something like 'not completely bidegradable. But you should also take note that the break down products of DDT are apparently as toxic as the original compound.

 

Censoring the development of technology on the basis of it having damaging side effects for one particular application is incredibly blind-sighted and ultimately more detrimental to human society, in my opinion.

I disagree with this. I think not taking a breath or two and more often reflecting on whether a particular technology should be developed is faciliating the continued culture of applying short term band aid solutions rather than addressing the underlying structural problems of western civilisation. If technological solutions were not made so readily available by scientists I believe that politicians and business would be a great deal more cautious with their decision making and we would have fewer big global problems in the future.

Edited by Greg Boyles
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No not a strawman because you have jumped to an incorrect conclusion. I did not say to spray ddt on yourself, I said spray it all over the house that you and your hypothetical children occupy.

 

Easy enough to check. One can go back a few posts and see

 

Would you use DDT in your own house, on yourself and on your own children???? It has been linked to diabetes and to cancer for example.

(emphasis added)

 

Clearly, you did say it.

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Easy enough to check. One can go back a few posts and see

 

 

(emphasis added)

 

Clearly, you did say it.

 

I meant exposure from touching the sprayed surface and inhaling the volatilised ddt, not literally spraying it on your skin.

 

Any way you are nit picking about wording rather than addressing the point I made.

 

 

You are happy to have ddt imposed upon africans to prevent them getting malaria and yet you wouldn't use it in your own house. That is double standards.

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I meant exposure from touching the sprayed surface and inhaling the volatilised ddt, not literally spraying it on your skin.

 

Any way you are nit picking about wording rather than addressing the point I made.

 

"Not what I meant" is not the same as "not what I said". You were free to clarify your remarks, but instead you chose a different tactic, and are now defending it.

 

You are happy to have ddt imposed upon africans to prevent them getting malaria and yet you wouldn't use it in your own house. That is double standards.

 

What is the risk/reward of malaria vs DDT? 225 million cases in 2009, with 781,000 deaths. What is the cost of treatment vs the cost of prevention? What is the cost of lost productivity because of the effects of the disease?

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"Not what I meant" is not the same as "not what I said". You were free to clarify your remarks, but instead you chose a different tactic, and are now defending it.

 

 

 

What is the risk/reward of malaria vs DDT? 225 million cases in 2009, with 781,000 deaths. What is the cost of treatment vs the cost of prevention? What is the cost of lost productivity because of the effects of the disease?

 

What is the cost of treating chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer over half a lifetime of multiple generations compared to treating a malaria at present?????? And if you eliminate malaria then are you going to reduce fertility of africans in comepensation. If you don't then future generations are likely to die from malnutrition and other effects of over population. What will it then cost in emergency aid over decades to keep all the extra people alive? What about the cost of damaged local ecosystems? What about the cost of mosquitos becoming resistant to DDT?

 

You are suffering from tunnel vision on this issue swansont. Human suffering due to malaria etc is a symptom of structural problems with African society, primarily over popoulation and corruption. We need to stop focusing on the symptoms and start focusing on the structural problems.

 

As I said, preservation of individual lives should not come at wider and long term costs to future generations and to the environment they will have to live in. If it means that a proportion of current Africans have to continue dieing from malaria for the forseeable future then so be it.

 

But there is a simple and safer solution for malaria in mosquito nets and windows screens. DDT is not an acceptible answer for the vast majority of westerners.

Edited by Greg Boyles
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What is the cost of treating chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer over half a lifetime of multiple generations compared to treating a malaria infection over perhaps a few months??????

 

What about the cost of damaged local ecosystems?

 

Feel free to do the analysis and get back to us.

 

As I said, preservation of individual lives should not come at wider and long term costs to future generations and to the environment they will have to live in. If it means that a proportion of current Africans have to continue dieing from malaria for the forseeable future then so be it.

 

But there is a simple and safer solution for malaria in mosquito nets and windows screens. DDT is not an acceptible answer for the vast majority of westerners.

 

But these aren't Westerners, are they? DDT wasn't used primarily as an anti-malarial by the west, because malaria isn't the same level of problem in the west.

 

Your attitude toward the deaths of these people is rather callous and reprehensible, IMO. I'm glad you aren't the one making the decisions.

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Feel free to do the analysis and get back to us.

 

 

 

But these aren't Westerners, are they? DDT wasn't used primarily as an anti-malarial by the west, because malaria isn't the same level of problem in the west.

 

Your attitude toward the deaths of these people is rather callous and reprehensible, IMO. I'm glad you aren't the one making the decisions.

 

What you see as callous, I see as facing reality. You cannot save them all swansont.

 

And, to coin a phrase from star wars, the more your tighten your grip (malaria, starvation,......) the more africans that will slip through your fingers into death in the long term.

 

We have been through this sort of mentality through the previous decades. Live aid, band aid, Bob Geldoff, end to poverty,............ After all this effort over several decades there are even more africans living in poverty and periodically dieing from starvation. Why because people like this only ever reach for short term quick fixes (and personal kudos) rather than addressing the more difficult underlying structural problems.

 

If we don't learn from history we are doomed to endlessly repeat it.

Edited by Greg Boyles
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One phrase kept running through my mind as I read this thread and swanson has introduced it: risk/reward, or cost-benefit analysis.

 

Greg, do you accept that the scientists who developed DDT and the people who introduced its use wanted to help communities and simply lacked the vision to appreciate the potential damage DDT might cause?

Here is the problem - discoveries can be employed in such diverse ways that it seems improbable that all the potential downsides of any discovery that might arise from particular research could be properly investigated.

 

Could the researchers into lasers have predicted some of the benefits, such as bar code readers? They might have realised the potential for a powerful laser to act as a 'death ray', but would they have thought of laser targeting for smart bombs? So should the laser research have been conducted? Do you really think in the 1950s and 1960s the implications could have been properly assessed?

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One phrase kept running through my mind as I read this thread and swanson has introduced it: risk/reward, or cost-benefit analysis.

 

Greg, do you accept that the scientists who developed DDT and the people who introduced its use wanted to help communities and simply lacked the vision to appreciate the potential damage DDT might cause?

Here is the problem - discoveries can be employed in such diverse ways that it seems improbable that all the potential downsides of any discovery that might arise from particular research could be properly investigated.

 

Could the researchers into lasers have predicted some of the benefits, such as bar code readers? They might have realised the potential for a powerful laser to act as a 'death ray', but would they have thought of laser targeting for smart bombs? So should the laser research have been conducted? Do you really think in the 1950s and 1960s the implications could have been properly assessed?

 

As I have previously said the focus should be on development of specific technologies rather than on pure research. E.G. A restraining hand on the shoulder of scientists who seek to develop ways to produce industrial quantities of DDT rather than on scientists detailing the chemcial properties of DDT. Or on scientists seeking to develop a death ray rather than on scientists who are simply developing lasers in general. Or on scientists who seek to increase food production further rather than developing better contrceptives.

 

That's the way it generally works for medical research. Research on the causes of cancer and diabetes etc is generally unrestricted apart from animal ethics and budgetry contraints. But develkopment a testing of new drugs or surgical techniques is subject to strict oversight.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Scientists with tunnel vision concerning increasing food yields, preventing third world deaths and finding new ways to kill insects are a signficant part of our current global problems - they are not and will never be part of the solution.

 

They will acheive little more than bringing humanity to the brink of the inevitable crash of human civilisation (detailed in my post titled "Limits to growth" from Scientific American in "Earth Sciences") a little faster.

Edited by Greg Boyles
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What you see as callous, I see as facing reality. You cannot save them all swansont.

 

And, to coin a phrase from star wars, the more your tighten your grip (malaria, starvation,......) the more africans that will slip through your fingers into death in the long term.

 

Again, do the analysis and show that this is true. Apply the ethics of choosing who dies to the problem as well. Of course, everybody dies — this is a matter of who dies and when. What were the death and disease rates from DDT when it was in widespread use as a general crop insecticide, and what will it be in much more limited use as vector control. Show me that it's better to be dead than suffer from a chronic disease much later in life, and what the relative numbers will be.

 

We have been through this sort of mentality through the previous decades. Live aid, band aid, Bob Geldoff, end to poverty,............ After all this effort over several decades there are even more africans living in poverty and periodically dieing from starvation. Why because people like this only ever reach for short term quick fixes (and personal kudos) rather than addressing the more difficult underlying structural problems.

 

If we don't learn from history we are doomed to endlessly repeat it.

 

And if we don't learn to analyze the problem we are doomed to knee-jerk reactions.

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Again, do the analysis and show that this is true. Apply the ethics of choosing who dies to the problem as well. Of course, everybody dies this is a matter of who dies and when. What were the death and disease rates from DDT when it was in widespread use as a general crop insecticide, and what will it be in much more limited use as vector control. Show me that it's better to be dead than suffer from a chronic disease much later in life, and what the relative numbers will be.

 

 

 

And if we don't learn to analyze the problem we are doomed to knee-jerk reactions.

If you wish to impose DDT on africans then perhaps should should also educate them enough to make an informed choice about whether thay wish to accept it or not. I suspect, if they were adequately educated on the chemistry of DDT, then most of them would reject your imposition, as have the vast majority of westerners, and stick with mosquito netting and windows screens!

 

Yes! Knee jerk reactions like spraying DDT on the houses of people completely ignorant of the long term and wider dangers of it!

Edited by Greg Boyles
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As I have previously said the focus should be on development of specific technologies rather than on pure research. E.G. A restraining hand on the shoulder of scientists who seek to develop ways to produce industrial quantities of DDT rather than on scientists detailing the chemcial properties of DDT. Or on scientists seeking to develop a death ray rather than on scientists who are simply developing lasers in general. Or on scientists who seek to increase food production further rather than developing better contrceptives.

 

That's the way it generally works for medical research. Research on the causes of cancer and diabetes etc is generally unrestricted apart from animal ethics and budgetry contraints. But develkopment a testing of new drugs or surgical techniques is subject to strict oversight.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Scientists with tunnel vision concerning increasing food yields, preventing third world deaths and finding new ways to kill insects are a signficant part of our current global problems - they are not and will never be part of the solution.

 

They will acheive little more than bringing humanity to the brink of the inevitable crash of human civilisation (detailed in my post titled "Limits to growth" from Scientific American in "Earth Sciences") a little faster.

 

How can you tell which idea will lead to a cancer cure and which will lead to the death ray?

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