Man raised alongside chimps says it should never happen again

About midway through his career, Roger realised that this was an experiment that should never have been done

How on earth did it take that long? This was obviously wrong from the start, not to mention incredibly dangerous given how viciously violent chimps are.

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It does boggle the mind. It helps to remember that some people really thought that humans were essentially chimps. Some people, it turns out, were wrong.

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I guess some people need to learn the hard way. Apparently, the fact that people have had their faces ripped off by supposedly tame chimps, wasn’t sufficiently convincing.

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There have been big reforms in Research Ethics over the years. The questions about right and wrong were not asked when this started.

That is extremely disturbing. I didn’t need an ethics committee to know this was wrong. This was only in the 1960s. If people in the 1960s didn’t know this was wrong, what was wrong with them?

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It gets worse.

The Tuskegee Prison experiment didn’t end until 1972.
The Stanford Prison Experiment was in 1972.
The Milgram Experiment began in 1961. (At least here difficulties were recognized early).

The Belmont Report was published in 1979. This is a milestone in human subjects research, and required reading were I work.

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Yes I am familiar with these. It seems that putting people into positions of authority, especially in a scientific context, distorts significantly their capacity for ethical judgment.

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It isn’t so much authority as it is ambition. Scientists want to figure things out, gain respect and prestige, get funded, and have a healthy career. At times, scientists can become blinded to ethical considerations in that pursuit. In the end, you can’t always depend on people to say “No” if it gets in the way of their own work.

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That’s enough reason why it should never happen. As far as the welfare of the chimps is concerned, the destruction of their habitat and medical experimentation seem like far greater concerns.

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There have been one or two times during my career where I’ve had to explain to someone that their wonderful idea was unethical and doomed to rejection from the IRB. There weren’t bad people or even bad researchers, its just their enthusiasm got them leaping ahead without considering all the consequences.

That was awful, but I learned that Chimps are capable of creatively using sign language. For some reason I thought Gorillas like Koko were unique in this respect.

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