Clinical Trials and the Cultural Mania for Torture
I am against clinical trials.
Rather, I am against clinical trials as they are now conceived and implemented.
I am against the mass “treatment” of the desperately ill via the marketing of hope (and often one of “only hope”).
I have no stats and I’ll certainly update this next contention should someone share some valid and pertinent data with me: Surely most clinical trials offer zero benefit to any subjects in terms of quality of life and likely not even in quantity of life. (...)
With that as backdrop I’d go further and argue that “applied science” in the service of the consumption economy is intensely evil at its core as it becomes realized in this very way. We are subjects in one very long experiment. It is in utter dismay that I confront the fact that we honor, or at least offer deference to, by calling “science” and “research” and the noble character trait of man, the mania for discovery (exploration).
Harlow and Suomi, as vile as they are, are no exception. The “mad” scientist is the norm, fellow subjects, and the mad patient is his collaborator.
Douglas Storm doesn’t seem to know anything about experimental research after the sixties. I did my bachelor’s thesis for my anthropology degree on the use of authority and power in online communities, and I had to get IRB approval to interview people. To /talk to people/ under circumstances in which they were free to just not answer questions, and in which they were free to choose how I’d refer to them later if I did so. Why? Because that counts as human experimentation.
Now, the author undoubtedly wasn’t intending to discuss research like mine. I am fully confident that ethnographic fieldwork like mine isn’t even on the author’s radar, because it looks a lot like Storm doesn’t actually realize the full breadth of what he’s condemning. That’d require him to do more than read the Wikipedia article on Harlow’s research (and there are so many similarly awful old studies that the fact that he only mentioned Harlow suggests to me that he didn’t spend very long researching his opinion) and get really upset at everybody who so much as sorta seems like a scientist.
So to more directly address Storm’s apparently narrow area of exposure to research… Storm’s opposed to clinical testing, but is he opposed to marketing and selling /untested/ products? At that point, we’d all know they’re still being tested. They’d just be tested on people who didn’t consent and don’t know what they’re getting into, whereas contrary to what reading about one of the many nasty studies from decades ago might have indicated to Storm, there are standards for clinical trials or any kind of experimentation on living creatures (particularly creatures that can feel pain).
However, Storm’s against clinical testing. What does he propose happen to products intended for animals or people before they’re sold, then? I guarantee you we’d have a lot of the same medications and other consumables, but they’d be coming without that package insert that tells you what you’re getting into. I don’t know about you, but I like that package insert. It’s how I accomplish a little thing that researchers call “informed consent.” What Storm is suggesting is wildly irresponsible and would result in danger and harm to a lot of people.
How do I know this? Because that’s how it used to be before clinical trials were A Thing. That’s how snake oil salesmen worked. That’s how antifreeze ended up getting used as a sweetener in children’s medicine. Nobody did trials or studies because nobody had to, and you know what? People died. As someone whose loved ones /must/ take a whole host of medications for serious chronic ailments, I’m a little bothered that Storm is suggesting that “applied science” is an “intensely evil” force in our consumption economy.
I think Storm is blinded by his own able-bodied privilege in that he can just decide that science is bad and he doesn’t want any, and he can just decide that all of its effects are evil despite how many of them keep other people alive. Frankly, if Storm or his students have received vaccinations for lethal or disabling illnesses, “applied science” is keeping him alive, too. He’s just obviously able-bodied enough to ignore it.
Scientists need regulation. They need rules and ethical standards and accountability and consequences when those standards aren’t met. Why? Because, contrary to Storm’s narrowly-researched and ill-considered opinion, we need them.
A lot of people need them just to function day to day, and if Storm cares more about some bizarre notion of ideological orthodoxy ("applied science" is categorically "intensely evil" and no benefit to anyone can be admitted) than he cares about keeping chronically ill or disabled people alive and healthy, then Storm can seriously climb a wall of cocks.