First, do no harm

Today we have Institutional Review Boards and onerous procedural safeguards for every university experiment involving human subjects, and animals as well.  But it wasn’t always this way.

In the 1950s, Harvard Med Professor Henry Knowles Beecher was recruited by the CIA to participate in a secret program to extract information from Soviet spies and many innocent victims by dosing them unbeknownst with LSD, mescaline, and whatever else they thought might do the trick.

Knowles participated in this research for several years, but eventually turned around to become (the first) advocate for subjects in medical experiments.  From 1959 until his death in 1976, he wrote about Ethics and Clinical Research, told chilling stories from the inside about people who were terrified by symptoms that they didn’t know had been induced, people who were killed by experimental drugs, and many more who suffered permanent disabilities after failed experiments.  He lived to see birth of a movement for accountability, but only years after his death did his work lead to structural safeguards.

read a brief bio from Harvard Magazine

Their attempt to co-opt and dehumanize people may work some of the time, but it is the insiders who become appalled and conscience-stricken at their own behavior who, then become essential to opening a window for the world to see how power corrupts. Whistleblowers are few in number, but as agents of change, they are each pivotal figures. — JJM                             Read a whistleblower article by John Kiriakou.


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