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Re: rant on the morality of confidentiality



At 10:20 PM -0800 1/13/98, Bill Stewart wrote:

>Consider the Nazi studies done on human susceptibility to freezing,
>poisons, torture, etc., and the followon work done by various
>evil empires.  Some of it was just done for fun,
>but some of it _was_ real science, with hypotheses and experiments,
>and there's only so much research you can do into the
>resistence of the body to serious damage without actually
>damaging live bodies, most accidental damage to human bodies
>isn't done in sufficiently instrumented environments to be useful,
>and it's just _damn_ hard to get good volunteers these days.
>Did most of that work rate as "immoral science" - I'd say so.

I think it's an error to use "moral" or "immoral" as a modifier for "science."

It's a matter of opinion/ethics as to whether some science is "for immoral
purposes," but calling something "immoral science" is fraught with trouble.

To a vegetarian, any science related to meat production is "immoral science."

To a devout pacifist, any science related to weapons in any way is "immoral
science."

To an Orthodox Jew, any science done on the Sabbath is "immoral science."

To a Communist, any science which refutes scientific socialism is "immoral
science."

To the Catholic Church, circa 1500, any science which challenged the
earth-centric view was "immoral science."

Personally, I don't view scientific experiments done on condemned prisoners
as immoral. If a human being has already been sentenced to die, and, for
example, accepts some payment (perhaps for his heirs) to die in some
scientifically interesting way, why call it "immoral"?

While I would not have, I hope, worked in a Nazi death camp, the science
obtained is undeniably real science, some of the only solid data we have on
freezing humans, on exposing them to pathogens, etc.

(BTW, there are those who believe using placebos in experiments involving
life-threatening situations (like diseases) is "immoral science." I view it
as a necessary way to do science in this arena. So long as the patients are
informed as to the protocol, and understand they may randomly end up in the
placebo group, I have no problems. Nonetheless, the fact that some or all
in the control group will die in the experiment is deemed by some to be
"immoral.")


--Tim May

The Feds have shown their hand: they want a ban on domestic cryptography
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Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
ComSec 3DES:   408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
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Higher Power: 2^2,976,221   | black markets, collapse of governments.
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