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Crell Moset's Research

Posted: 2018-02-19 04:01pm
by Master Six
I saw VOY: "Nothing Human" not too long ago -- definitely one of the better episodes. It was also a rare moment where they weren't ham-handed about dealing with an ethical dilemma, and by the end of the episode they had made good arguments for both sides.

Two things I wonder about:
1. What exactly did the Doctor choose to delete -- the entire body of Crell Moset's research that was on file, or just the hologram with his knowledge and personality? I have no real objection to the latter, although they might have been able to avoid some of the reaction by choosing a species palette that was anything other than Cardassian or Bajoran.

2. If he deleted all of the research, however, how do you feel about this? I come down on the side of preserving the research, for a couple of reasons. You can't condone what Moset did to get his results -- deliberately infecting prisoners and slaves with a virus is horrific. At the same time, all evidence suggests that he was one of the most important figures in exobiology, contributing greatly to the wealth of scientific knowledge in the quadrant. I don't see why you couldn't take his research and findings, apply them to ethical practices and standards, and make good use of a bad man's work. Plus, I don't like the idea of trying to erase history. You can use Moset's work practically while also holding it up as a lesson on unethical behavior by a scientist. Most people seem to agree that the Stanford Prison Experiment is not how you conduct research, yet we've still used the information gathered from the interactions between "guard" and "prisoner".*

*Obviously this is not on the same scale as deliberately infecting people, but you get the idea.

Re: Crell Moset's Research

Posted: 2018-02-19 06:09pm
by Broomstick
Have you looked into the real life equivalents in Dr. Mengele's research and Japan's Unit 731? What was and wasn't done with the information, what was and wasn't actually useful (some of it just seemed to be torture and not research).

Re: Crell Moset's Research

Posted: 2018-02-19 06:58pm
by Master Six
Broomstick wrote:
2018-02-19 06:09pm
Have you looked into the real life equivalents in Dr. Mengele's research and Japan's Unit 731? What was and wasn't done with the information, what was and wasn't actually useful (some of it just seemed to be torture and not research).
Familiar, but not in any extensive detail. What they did was absolutely barbaric, and most of the time it truly was just torture with the facade of science. I'd at least salvage any valid discoveries made and apply them to ethical scientific/medical practices. If you can demonstrate that a remedy for a disease found through deliberately infecting a patient worked the same way in a controlled and ethical experimental environment, that remedy is still worth having on file, even if discovered under despicable conditions.

Maybe it would be impossible, in which case the only use for the research would be as documentation of war crimes. For that reason it should be kept on file, just not used for actual experiments or medicine. And the scientist or physician responsible should be in prison or executed.

Re: Crell Moset's Research

Posted: 2018-02-22 07:45pm
by Elheru Aran
The big problem with using results from unethical research is that you have no real guarantee that they are reproductible. The lack of ethics casts question upon the scientific rigour of the research. It is not worth tainting your results by acknowledging that you are using data from such a source.

Re: Crell Moset's Research

Posted: 2018-02-26 07:44pm
by EnterpriseSovereign
From the little info available, the only discovery of any consequence that Moset made was the cure for and eradication of the Fostossa Virus. On one hand, if you use the data gleaned from his experiments you're effectively condoning his methods, but if you don't and more people die as a result, then their deaths would have been in vain. A real-world equivalent would be if Jenner had discovered the vaccine for smallpox via similar methods instead of using cowpox, that's one ethican dilemma I wouldn't touch with a bargepole.

Re: Crell Moset's Research

Posted: 2018-03-16 03:38pm
by Prometheus Unbound
EnterpriseSovereign wrote:
2018-02-26 07:44pm
if you use the data gleaned from his experiments you're effectively condoning his methods,
Well I think the point of the episode was that it's not necessarily effectively condoning. I mean, what, the implication being that other scientists will think 'oh that's ok then' and do stuff they wouldn't do?

If the data is scientifically sound, then data is data. I mean, the fact it may have been gotten in abhorrent ways doesn't mitigate whether something is fact or not. But let's pretend that something useful is taken from Unit 731 and gets incorporated into some sort of medical treatment that 'works' for an arbitrary condition.

I do not believe that scientists or researchers would then infer from that, that it's ok to then do similar experiments or push any boundaries of current accepted procedures as a result.

We learn things from terrorist attacks, from industrial accidents, from medical emergencies all the time.

I'm not commenting on whether or not it's ok to use the research - but I reject the idea that you're 'effectively condoning his methods'.

Re: Crell Moset's Research

Posted: 2018-03-18 01:30pm
by Master Six
Prometheus Unbound wrote:
2018-03-16 03:38pm
If the data is scientifically sound, then data is data. I mean, the fact it may have been gotten in abhorrent ways doesn't mitigate whether something is fact or not. But let's pretend that something useful is taken from Unit 731 and gets incorporated into some sort of medical treatment that 'works' for an arbitrary condition.

I do not believe that scientists or researchers would then infer from that, that it's ok to then do similar experiments or push any boundaries of current accepted procedures as a result.

We learn things from terrorist attacks, from industrial accidents, from medical emergencies all the time.

I'm not commenting on whether or not it's ok to use the research - but I reject the idea that you're 'effectively condoning his methods'.
This is the angle I'm taking -- if you have data that's useable, building off of it in no way means you're saying that how it was gained was ok. I can understand why some people would feel otherwise, but I think that the lives would be lost in vain if you threw everything away right off the bat. I can think of no better way to honor their lives than to use the results to save other lives or improve quality of life. The incident(s) will always remain in the history books as a reminder of the lines scientists should never cross. If they need to be hit over the head with that reminder every time they work on a project involving data that first came from a Mengele-type scenario, you have a much bigger problem in how your scientists are being educated and trained.

"Equinox" brings up a similar ethical quandry. Getting home in no way excuses murder/genocide. But is there something that can be gained from learning that the nucleogenic aliens can be converted into fuel? Sure -- see if you can synthesize a substance that mimics the properties of their flesh and can be used as an alternative fuel storage source. If you have to kill even one more alien to continue R&D, the project is over, but maybe you could persuade them to provide tissue samples.

Re: Crell Moset's Research

Posted: 2018-03-19 12:47pm
by Ziggy Stardust
You mentioned the Stanford Prison Experiment in the OP ... I highly recommend doing more research and reading into how the results of that experiment are interpreted in the scientific community. It is NOT a case of "well, the methods were unethical but the data are useful" ... in fact, many if not most scientists question the validity of the results of the experiment in general. It is highly dubious that ANY of the results were "real" (in the sense of being faithful representations of some underlying phenomena), in no small part due to the various ethical violations of that study interfering with the actual scientific process. It goes far beyond condoning the methods from an ethical standpoint; it has to do with the fact that violations of ethical procedures call into question the base validity of the methods from a scientific standpoint. This does not mean that it is impossible to get useful information out of an unethical study, but simply that the bar is MUCH higher, and the results can't simply be accepted as being real.

Re: Crell Moset's Research

Posted: 2018-03-19 01:24pm
by Master Six
Ziggy Stardust wrote:
2018-03-19 12:47pm
You mentioned the Stanford Prison Experiment in the OP ... I highly recommend doing more research and reading into how the results of that experiment are interpreted in the scientific community. It is NOT a case of "well, the methods were unethical but the data are useful" ... in fact, many if not most scientists question the validity of the results of the experiment in general. It is highly dubious that ANY of the results were "real" (in the sense of being faithful representations of some underlying phenomena), in no small part due to the various ethical violations of that study interfering with the actual scientific process. It goes far beyond condoning the methods from an ethical standpoint; it has to do with the fact that violations of ethical procedures call into question the base validity of the methods from a scientific standpoint. This does not mean that it is impossible to get useful information out of an unethical study, but simply that the bar is MUCH higher, and the results can't simply be accepted as being real.
I'm not saying accept it all at face value -- just be willing to check its validity before you toss it all out because you're ashamed of what happened. If it's too muddled by the ethical violations or you can't get repeatable results, its only value is as a reminder of a past atrocity.

Since you mention it, I'll read more about the SPE and read those criticisms. Do you know of a better example for what I'm talking about?