Posted by jeremy on March 1, 2011 9:55 pm.
You can still contribute comments via email. Please see the original post for details.
The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues hosted a series of presentations this week, exploring ethical issues in neuroimaging and neuroscience experimentation. They got a little more than they bargained for.
The commission members knew something was up. Due to an ‘enormous’ number of people registering to make public comments, commenters were warned in advance they would be restricted to comments 90 seconds in length, during a special comment period shortly before the conclusion of the conference on Tuesday.
Irony thick enough to cut with a knife
In the last round table segment before the final comment period, experimentation in Guatemala six decades ago (in which test subjects were involuntarily infected with syphillis1), was brought up. The commission head, Dr. Amy Gutmann, asked pointedly what steps had been taken to prevent that kind of experimentation from happening again, and if not, why not? Some round table participants acknowledged that sort of thing could be happening today.
Just fifteen minutes later, dozens of audience members were applauding as one involuntary human experimentee after another testified about their experiences with MKULTRA-style experimentation in the present day.
There were several reporters present, even during the public comments session - but so far, there’s no coverage of the comments, positive or negative!
Ken Rhoades was a major catalyst in the proceedings, bringing the bioethics commission to the attention of many. He funded several attendees’ trips (including mine). Thanks, Ken!
The testimony was qualitatively different from the usual chatter on the conference calls. It was much better.
Everyone involved found this an energizing - even electrifying - event.
There is the matter of bringing these proceedings to the right peoples’ attention - that’s a project in itself. However, we’re getting close to making the disconnect between expressed concern for experimentees, and the actual treatment of experimentees in the present day, very embarrassing for people in high places.