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  1. #11
    Regular irick's Avatar
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    I think the problem is that people don't acknowledge research scientist as an ethically driven feild. It's particularly saddening that there is this popular opinion that scientists just jab needles into their lab animals without any thought to the moral implications. I think this is a symptom of the over-all scientific illiteracy of our society.

    I can really only speak about the US when I make general observations, but i'm sure it's a common viewpoint. People really don't understand this concept of professional ethics in the experimental sciences, or even really in the applied sciences. They really have no idea just how much scrutiny the scientific community will give its peerage when it comes to violations of professional ethics, and they really have no idea how crucial lab testing is to the process.

    People get it in their heads that animal testing isn't needed and so animal testing is obviously unethical. However, they never have any idea of an alternative. I really doubt that the majority of them would like to give up the medicines or medical insight that we derive from these sort of tests but they have this largely uninformed idea about the horrors of the lab and it makes them feel much better to condemn the sterile men in clean white coats who shove around the poor defenseless animals who would so rather have this innocuous state of 'freedom in the wyldes'.

    But most of the time they don't have specific issues, they are just against the idea for a reason they can't quite put their thumb on. I really think that the solution to this is education. To shed light on the ethical standards the scientific community demands of itself and how simply essential research is. To most people, science is this magical process that just happens. They may even know the scientific method, but their exposure to science ended after high-school. I do wonder, out of the people who oppose animal research how many of them also oppose the treatment of animals in films and reality shows.

    I can assure you that the ethical standards research labs must conform to are far greater than a Hollywood set, and much higher than one of these reality shows.

  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by irick View Post
    People get it in their heads that animal testing isn't needed and so animal testing is obviously unethical. However, they never have any idea of an alternative. I really doubt that the majority of them would like to give up the medicines or medical insight that we derive from these sort of tests but they have this largely uninformed idea about the horrors of the lab and it makes them feel much better to condemn the sterile men in clean white coats who shove around the poor defenseless animals who would so rather have this innocuous state of 'freedom in the wyldes'.

    But most of the time they don't have specific issues, they are just against the idea for a reason they can't quite put their thumb on. I really think that the solution to this is education.
    I agree that education would be the best solution, both scientific and psychological. I noticed it's kind of a projection of their own lives, where they feel trapped and see "the wyldes" as a pure form of freedom they could never experience. To them, these animals never have to worry about their stressors, so naturally they prance and dance and roam free as a freebird. Right? Right?!

    I also realized that far too many people have no idea where their meat comes from, yet still hold the above views. That's an entirely different ethical can of worms, though. I'll just keep it focused to research lol.

  3. #13
    Junior usafSHADOWusaf's Avatar
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    Agreed on your last comment. As for the others, I'd respond if I had more time, but I have analytical mechanics homework and a differential equations exam to study for, so I must be brief. My participation during the semester is a bit spotty, so don't feel like I'm ignoring you; I'm just busy.

    And interesting explanation of your ethical interpretation!

  4.   Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread.   #14
    Quote Originally Posted by usafSHADOWusaf View Post
    Agreed on your last comment. As for the others, I'd respond if I had more time, but I have analytical mechanics homework and a differential equations exam to study for, so I must be brief. My participation during the semester is a bit spotty, so don't feel like I'm ignoring you; I'm just busy.

    And interesting explanation of your ethical interpretation!
    I'm glad some of it made sense. I read it over and over and still thought it was just a jumble, but ah well~ hey, take your time, I'm not going anywhere. I know how it goes, trust me, so as long as you respond to me eventually we're all good. I'm really loving the thought provoking discussions.

  5. #15
    Call me a purist but I hold behavioral analysis with shoddy scientific rigor pretty low, to the point that I consider it a waste of money that could be better spent elsewhere. This is another reason why I hate modern experimental economics. They use laboratory conditions to extract artificial reactions from participants. Yeah, they uncover trends and stuff but it's all ballparks and nothing common fucking sense couldn't tell them. To toot my own horn, this is why I think my idea of simulated field experiments are the way forward in this, because it gives you un-fucked-around-with outputs for your inputs with direct real-world correlation.

    I guess that might warrant some explanation so lemme clarify. Last semester I took a particularly grueling course, econometrics II, in which we basically had to read a piece of published scholarly research every week, break it down, and explain it. We also had to do brain-fucklingly-hard statistics, an original research paper, and a research presentation for our choice of one of the readings. Anyway, one of the things we had to do was explain some issues with the research, including issues we found in the methodology. The #1 issue that kept cropping up was the experimenters weren't accounting for possible, often potentially experiment-breaking outside influences. Now behavioral scientists have funny ways of circumnavigating things like "confounds" and "experimental error", one of them is providing the raw data in their papers. This is akin to shoplifting but saying, "Hey, it's alright, I told the clerk what I was taking before I left the supermarket." The other tricky thing they do is fun with statistics. You see, economists aren't really as good at stats as everyone thinks, but they know how to use them to their advantage. Most experiments used non-parametric tests where applicable, or even where not applicable. The standard formula was you collect data, you run a Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney on it, and then you post some graphs showing off how clever you are with your categorization of the data (which is usually arbitrary). Now the main source of this bullshit, the lazy stats-work, can be easily solved by walking down the hallway and asking a dude (or dudette) in the math department to give your data a once-over and suggest a test for it. However this would mean having to add another name to the paper AND WE CAN'T HAVE THAT.

    Now don't get me wrong, I learned an immense amount from that class, both from the professors (there were 2 for a class of about 10) and the grad students in the class (it was a 400/800 level course. On that note it was strange because the undergrad and graduate workloads and grade weight were identical). However it also taught me that academia is all about internal politics and annoying hierarchies. I'm assuming this is because, much to the lament of my economics professors, education and research is not market driven in the traditional sense thus you get funding for how en-vogue your research is, not on its actual merit or profitability. Hence the funding for fuzzy monkey experiments. So I'm a little disillusioned about actually pursuing any kind of actual research in terms of my major, I don't want to dedicate myself to dealing with that kind of an atmosphere.
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  6. #16
    Junior usafSHADOWusaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TeenageAngst View Post
    Call me a purist but I hold behavioral analysis with shoddy scientific rigor pretty low, to the point that I consider it a waste of money that could be better spent elsewhere. This is another reason why I hate modern experimental economics. They use laboratory conditions to extract artificial reactions from participants. Yeah, they uncover trends and stuff but it's all ballparks and nothing common fucking sense couldn't tell them. To toot my own horn, this is why I think my idea of simulated field experiments are the way forward in this, because it gives you un-fucked-around-with outputs for your inputs with direct real-world correlation.

    I guess that might warrant some explanation so lemme clarify. Last semester I took a particularly grueling course, econometrics II, in which we basically had to read a piece of published scholarly research every week, break it down, and explain it. We also had to do brain-fucklingly-hard statistics, an original research paper, and a research presentation for our choice of one of the readings. Anyway, one of the things we had to do was explain some issues with the research, including issues we found in the methodology. The #1 issue that kept cropping up was the experimenters weren't accounting for possible, often potentially experiment-breaking outside influences. Now behavioral scientists have funny ways of circumnavigating things like "confounds" and "experimental error", one of them is providing the raw data in their papers. This is akin to shoplifting but saying, "Hey, it's alright, I told the clerk what I was taking before I left the supermarket." The other tricky thing they do is fun with statistics. You see, economists aren't really as good at stats as everyone thinks, but they know how to use them to their advantage. Most experiments used non-parametric tests where applicable, or even where not applicable. The standard formula was you collect data, you run a Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney on it, and then you post some graphs showing off how clever you are with your categorization of the data (which is usually arbitrary). Now the main source of this bullshit, the lazy stats-work, can be easily solved by walking down the hallway and asking a dude (or dudette) in the math department to give your data a once-over and suggest a test for it. However this would mean having to add another name to the paper AND WE CAN'T HAVE THAT.

    Now don't get me wrong, I learned an immense amount from that class, both from the professors (there were 2 for a class of about 10) and the grad students in the class (it was a 400/800 level course. On that note it was strange because the undergrad and graduate workloads and grade weight were identical). However it also taught me that academia is all about internal politics and annoying hierarchies. I'm assuming this is because, much to the lament of my economics professors, education and research is not market driven in the traditional sense thus you get funding for how en-vogue your research is, not on its actual merit or profitability. Hence the funding for fuzzy monkey experiments. So I'm a little disillusioned about actually pursuing any kind of actual research in terms of my major, I don't want to dedicate myself to dealing with that kind of an atmosphere.
    From what I've read in behavioral research, they rarely attempt to even draw clear cut conclusions, hence why I think you might have just been exposed to too much course material that is meant to pop up flags. Then again, if your professor has a bias towards research as being bad, he is not going to point out counter-arguments to his own world-view. Take physics for example. I could show you a million and one papers that draw premature conclusions with plenty of room for debunking/other possibilities, but I can show you an equal amount of the opposite spectrum. Sometimes those papers lead to discoveries that turn out to be true (Pavlov in behavior, or Planck in physics). Yes, they can be reaching at times, but getting published in a journal doesn't make you right, it just means your research is worth looking at. Research doesn't stop with a publication, it never stops at all, but just progresses through the stages of disproving it (sometimes justifying it through proof-by-contradiction).

  7. #17
    From what I've read in behavioral research, they rarely attempt to even draw clear cut conclusions, hence why I think you might have just been exposed to too much course material that is meant to pop up flags.
    Almost every single research paper had overreaching conclusions. It's the name of the game with behavioral experiments.

    Then again, if your professor has a bias towards research as being bad, he is not going to point out counter-arguments to his own world-view. Take physics for example. I could show you a million and one papers that draw premature conclusions with plenty of room for debunking/other possibilities, but I can show you an equal amount of the opposite spectrum.
    Since both professors were making their living doing research for the university in the field of experimental economics, and considering one of the papers we were forced to read was in fact published by the professor, I can assure you, they were not trying to break down their own field by cherry picking bad papers.

    Sometimes those papers lead to discoveries that turn out to be true (Pavlov in behavior, or Planck in physics). Yes, they can be reaching at times, but getting published in a journal doesn't make you right, it just means your research is worth looking at. Research doesn't stop with a publication, it never stops at all, but just progresses through the stages of disproving it (sometimes justifying it through proof-by-contradiction).
    I still think behavioral research is a waste of time and money. There are some things you just can't quantify.
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  8. #18
    Regular irick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TeenageAngst View Post

    I still think behavioral research is a waste of time and money. There are some things you just can't quantify.
    Please explain.
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  9. #19
    In economic circles there's lots of people talking about GDP as an antiquated measure of a nation's success because it doesn't take into account happiness or welfare or income inequality or stuff like that. This usually circulates around lower level academia and gets the people "who know about economics" riled up because they know "GDP is pointless". It's true GDP isn't perfect, but as a measure it's the best one we have because it's impossible to index happiness and general welfare of a nation's population. You can't quantify that, especially not on a macro level. Income inequality is the only thing you might be able to measure but even that contains so many contrasting variables that it's impossible to do practically. Thus these people trying to dethrone GDP as the measure of a nation's financial success are usually quieted and rightfully so.

    Experimental economics bleeds heavily into behavioral experiments by trying to quantify these things and this usually leads to very sloppy research and a lot of grasping at straws on the part of the researcher.
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  10.   Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread.   #20
    Quote Originally Posted by TeenageAngst View Post
    I still think behavioral research is a waste of time and money. There are some things you just can't quantify.
    I'm not sure whether to agree with this or not; can I do both? Some instances of practical, relevant results came from our lab, but oftentimes I found myself raising an eyebrow wondering, "Why exactly am I doing this again?" The only reason the lab still exists is because it ran off of fumes from a well published, sympathy-garnering, product-selling, untimely death of a very unique bird, and untold amounts of legwork from our PI promoting herself all across the world. Seriously, her globetrotting travel schedule is nuts, to this day. Regardless, I did become disillusioned with the direction the research was headed in, as I've mentioned before, but this is about all that I can mention in public.

    You're more than aware of the problem, at any rate. Folding in with what you said previously, experiments kind of have to be designed in a way that appeals to the current trends so a lab can simply stay afloat, let alone pursue the research they actually want to. So much money gets wasted every year on frivolous research that only gets said money because it's the popular thing to research or has some sort of mass market appeal, and yes, behavioral research sometimes (if not often) falls into that.

 

 

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