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May/Jun 18 The Hate/Radium Girls > [Radium Girls] what the limits of ethics in innovation? are you consuming toxic?

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited May 04, 2018 07:42AM) (new)

Hello everyone!

Science is a vast domain, it is everywhere. Biology is in our bones, physics jumps at our's side, chemistry is the cellphone/computer, the food you are eating, the cosmetic and clothes you are using etc... I can't cite all of the facets of Science since they are too many.

The Radium Girls approached many points concerning Science: Ethics, manipulation of data, innovation's risks, lack of understanding etc... I think those points are worth to be discussed because scientists are not always respectable people, Science may be corrupted and use to get power, make money at the expense of other people.

Years ago I was seating in a chair in an amphitheater while listening a speaker, in other words, I was attending a class. One of the first sentence the guest pronounced was:
"You cannot stop innovation either it is a good project or a horrible discovery."
Then he told us "Here is an example of one of the greatest innovation of the last century." He paused, probably to add a bit of suspense, "The atomic bomb." of course we were shocked and he added "The point here is that in your life, you will face ethical decisions, you may choose to take part in a project or not but be sure that no matter your choice is, you won't stop innovation."

In my opinion, the following quote from the book may illustrate point of view, potentially, in opposition to the aforementioned point:

(view spoiler)

Many points to discuss but my first questions will be about the Ethics and Innovation.

"Can we stop innovation or not?"

"Where are the limits of Ethics, and where is the boarder of the Corruption of Science? Can we work on a project that can be used for bad things but still being in the framework of Ethic or do we have some accountability? (In that question, it could be good to differentiate someone who knows from someone who is not aware of what is truly going on.)

PS: I am being a quite general since I do not want to spoil anything from the book but I feel that many quotes from "The Radium Girls" may be related to that topic.
PS2: those questions are more like starting points for a discussion rather than looking for one and only one answer ;) I already have my opinion about the first but I would like to see other point of view in order to question mine and reshape it.

Regards.


message 2: by Pam (last edited May 07, 2018 06:20AM) (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
I work in Research & Development. Innovation is my livelihood.

Engineers especially must attend an ethics class specifically due to these sorts of questions. One professor reminded us that in R&D there are never quick answers and many legal and quality hoops you must jump through. But every restriction is there because someone died horribly.

Our policies are literally and figuratively written in blood.


message 3: by Susan (new)

Susan Edelman (beyourownbrandofsexy) Ideally everyone would be as thoughtful and ethical. Unfortunately, people aren't always as ethical as we would hope.


message 4: by Pam (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
Ideally we would be taught Ethics every year in school right next to reading, writing, and arithmetic.


message 5: by Pam (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
Keith wrote: "It's difficult not to be cynical about ethics, when governments don't seem to have any at all and treat their own service personnel as lab rats. Perhaps they are waiting for them fade away as time ..."

Awful. Just horrendous.


message 6: by [deleted user] (last edited May 12, 2018 03:29PM) (new)

Keith wrote: "It's difficult not to be cynical about ethics, when governments don't seem to have any at all and treat their own service personnel as lab rats. Perhaps they are waiting for them fade away as time ..."

It feels like a déjà vu to me :s

Maybe ethics may be seen as common sense by some people and that is why such classes are rare. What do you think?

I am just wondering if a classe would help though, at least it cannot hurt for sure! I mean if someone is abusing people's ignorance by not caring about their safety, is a classe would change anything? Hum... Maybe it would prevent people to be ignorants and to be used... I am thinking loudly.


message 7: by [deleted user] (last edited May 12, 2018 04:17PM) (new)

Keith wrote: "Agreed Florian - very much déjà vu. A bit more from the UK's dismal record on ethical behaviour

https://www.globalresearch.ca/porton-......"


I do not want to question the article but I have not seen any link of the studies (I mean the references) their are talking about but maybe they are not accessible, it would not be surprising.

"A group of 369 servicemen affected launched legal action against the MoD last March, arguing that tests – including being sent to gas chambers and being exposed to nerve gas, mustard gas and teargas – had left them with health problems ranging from respiratory and skin diseases to cancer and psychological problems."

I do not even know how one can ask people to do that, it is... I cannot find any word for that!
In a way, I am not really surprised.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Hello everyone,

If you do not mind, I would like to move on another point. Of course it does not mean no additional comment about ethics.

Safety is obviously part of our daily life. It looking both side before crossing a street or make sure that the colorless liquid we are planning to drink is harmless. Of course natural risks are usually out of our hands but what about the daily goods we are consuming and using? Are they toxic or not?

I wish I could write a quote from the book to illustrate this topic but I have forwarded my book to my sister in France.
Anyway nowadays, the toxicity is sometime referred as a part per millions (ppm). Studies are made to figure out the daily exposure to a product a human can face before having trouble. Of course this largely depends on the person who is considered.

Now the questions are: do you trust the product you are eating or using as a medication?Are the chemicals composing a beauty product toxic? How such toxicity can be calculated or study? Should we use empirical strategies or should we test things before and how? By asking humans to be guinea pigs? By using animals (rabbits, mice) just like cosmetic does? By using stem cells to create articial tissues and organs that would be use for tests?

Many questions (more will probably be added) that will imply many thoughts :)

Have a good weekend!


message 9: by Lolin (new)

Lolin (lolinloggen) | 6 comments One of the things I felt was important when I was a student was ethics. I took quite a few extra subjects on ethics and philosophy to prepare myself to work in a field where innovation, people and risks could come on my path.

I still think I was right to do that. It taught me to be extra critical on my work and what the outcomes are. It has made that if at all possible I stayed away from jobs that I deemed non ethical in approach and also big business.

That said I am also a big believer in innovation and progress. I completely accept that with innovation there are risks and that some risk is not bad in itself. But that risk must be balanced by a number of people. The reality is that the risk to few may help society at large.

In radioactivity for instance, don't forget that we learned (and continue to learn) through great disasters and weapon research. We still learn a lot, positive and negative, from the Hiroshima/Nagasaki survivors, the people involved in the nuclear bombexperiments and the powerplant incidents (for instance Three mile Island, Tsjernobyl)
In itself it is ironic that power plants were designed aan for a safer option to be able to provide plutonium for weapon production. Ultimately we live in a society where money and a will to destroy each other will trump ethics any time (sadly)


message 10: by Pam (last edited May 31, 2018 08:13AM) (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
Good point. Marc. Coca-Cola used to have coke-the drug- in it. And now look where we are.

Another example: In the States, people became very worried about fat in their food. So the food industry came up with new products that had less fat, but still tasted good. How? Because they added corn syrup/sugar. Fat went down. But diabetes increased exponentially.


message 11: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 4 comments While Marx's point is valid, I don't feel there is any ethical grey area once facts are discovered. If there is any question as to how to interpret the facts, as human life is involved, progress should be halted in the name of humanity. And once those companies HIS facts, and LIED, there is no grey. Only deepest, darkest, blackist greed.


message 12: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 4 comments Marc's! So sorry, Marc. Can't find how to edit that auto correct in my Kind!e Fire!!


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

I think you need to use the desktop version for editing. Scroll down, and at the bottom of the page you can switch for the other version. If I am wrong someone will probably point out the correct way :)


message 14: by Pam (last edited Jun 02, 2018 06:37PM) (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
Barbara wrote: "While Marx's point is valid, I don't feel there is any ethical grey area once facts are discovered. If there is any question as to how to interpret the facts, as human life is involved, progress sh..."

Science some times has to catch up before it completely understand new discoveries.

So how long must things be tested before products come on the market?

The amount of time and money it takes to test pharmaceuticals, for example, limits what issues companies go after. No one touches research for medicine that only effects a tiny portion of the population, because of the expense. There isn't a large enough return on investment, even if the technology and expertise is there to merit a company spending the resources on such small problems.

So how long is long enough? If we figured out fusion - creating limitless energy (no need for fossil fuels, etc) how soon do we add consumers have to wait before we never pay another utility bill again? Never have to go to the gas station ever again?


message 15: by Ashley (new)

Ashley (itsashleychristine) Florian wrote: "Keith wrote: "It's difficult not to be cynical about ethics, when governments don't seem to have any at all and treat their own service personnel as lab rats. Perhaps they are waiting for them fade..."

Ethics falls under the helm of philosophy, and they are declining perhaps because they aren't seen as lucrative professions.


message 16: by Nadine (new)

Nadine ♥ (misshappyreading) | 21 comments Personally I feel like 'A human live is worth more than an idea' - not just regarding innovation, but religion, ethics and more.

But nevertheless, as said here before, we continue to learn. During that progress, there might be a conflict between going forward by risking something (maybe even human lives) and stopping without knowing the final result (which could lead to something good for human race).

(sorry it this sounds a bit funny, this topic is hard for me to discuss in another language than my mother-tong)


message 17: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 7 comments I agree with Nadine - a human life ie worth more than idea- except to those who profit from that idea. How many times have groups of people suffered for one idea? Repeatedly.
Sometimes we know the effects and sometimes we don't know the risks. But either way, lives are constantly used to benefit an idea, a smaller group of people, or a society. I understand the utilitarian argument of a few suffering for the greater good. But how often is that true and how are these people compemsated for their suffering?

How do we stop the use of human lives to further an agenda?


message 18: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Stone (alysonserenastone) | 149 comments I personally think that all of this technology could be poison to us. Think about it. Cancer warning, hearing and vision damage from technology. Yet, we still use it and take the risk. I know I have to use it a lot for my job as a teacher. Personally, this book does make us think a little bit more about dangers.


message 19: by Anna (new)

Anna | 38 comments Alyson wrote: "I personally think that all of this technology could be poison to us. Think about it. Cancer warning, hearing and vision damage from technology. Yet, we still use it and take the risk. I know I hav..."

I agree. But I think It's a gray area. We benefit a lot from technology in terms of medical treatment, preservation of foods (more people died from food-poisoning 100 years ago), transportation and communication technology. Yet there are a lot of things we know are poisonous or damaging to the environment, but we choose to ignore it, because the products are of great use to us, for instance plastic, which ends up in the oceans as microplast, or travelling by plane. I'm no saint, I love to travel abroad.

It's complicated. I think many people (myself included) don't really want to face the truth about pollution etc, because then we have to act on it, and it's inconvenient. I think the owners of the Radium Companies might have felt the same way. They were part of this huge succes, and all of a sudden several workers became ill. It takes strenght of character to admit that you have been wrong, and that you have actually done harm.

But I agree with Chelsea that victims of work related diseases etc should always be compensated for their suffering. The factory owners were wrong to hide the truth for so long and ignore the complaints of the women.


message 20: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 21, 2018 04:18PM) (new)

Alyson wrote: "I personally think that all of this technology could be poison to us. Think about it. Cancer warning, hearing and vision damage from technology. Yet, we still use it and take the risk.

Yes, technology is dangerous just like everything you can eat, breath or touch but there is an important factor to consider: the dose we are exposed to.

Yet there are a lot of things we know are poisonous or damaging to the environment, but we choose to ignore it, because the products are of great use to us, for instance plastic, which ends up in the oceans as microplast, or travelling by plane. I'm no saint, I love to travel abroad.

Some people are working on resolving those problems, it takes time and energy and the fact that a minority with power or maybe a majority does not care or are not educated in those fields makes the task harder but not impossible! :)

I feel that accepting our accountability for something is sometime a good excuse for other to put all the blame on us rather than sharing it and trying to find solution.

About the plastic: (I hesitated to write a thread in miscellaneous for the worldenvironmentday but I was missing time) People blame plastic pollution especially plastic bags or plastic cultery but there are so much products that involves plastics: computers, cellphones, ovens, washing machines, pens. And this we may not acknowledge that properly.
Plastics are not only polluting after utilization because we either cannot recycle them or reuse them but they are also quite polluting in terms of their productions.

Here are a few historic data:
- The production of synthetic polymers (that includes plastics) started during the fifties.
- At the beginning of this industry the worldwide production was about 1.5 million tons per year.
- In 2015, we were producing about 322 million tons of plastics per year and we were consuming 93 million b/d of petroleum and this is only for petroleum not the other fossil resources (b/d means barrel per day).
- A large amount of plastic we are producing are mainly petroleum-based and cannot be recycled properly. Whenever a plastic cannot be recycled or reused it is burnt (valorization through heat) but it may release some toxic compounds or put in landfills or in nature (ocean for example).
- We, humanity, are awesome builders we built a new continent in the pacific ocean and we have started to build another one. Unfortunatly they are not made of conventionnal soil.

https://committee.iso.org/files/live/...
https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/i...

I guess I should have talked about that a few weeks ago.


message 21: by Anna (new)

Anna | 38 comments Florian: Thanks for sharing those interesting and scary facts about plastic.

I read an article about plastic today, in the newest edition of National Geographic, and it freaked me out:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/ma...

Until now, I had not realized that the problem was so big. I have promised myself never to buy a disposable plastic shopping bag again, and try to recycle whenever possible, but I don't know what else to do.

But you're right, we must not give up. Something can be done, we have the technology. Maybe information is the key, so that more people in the world becomes aware that there is a problem to be solved.


message 22: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 21, 2018 07:58PM) (new)

Hello!

It is scary but just like I mentioned some people are working on finding solutions, and one of them is actually writing those lines and I am not ready to give up! ;)
Indeed education is once again a key, because even if me and other people (most likely other people because I am not that smart :D) find a plastic made from biorenewable sources using green chemistry (limitation of pollution and toxicity) that turns out to be degradable under specific and non polluting conditions (biodegradable or water degradable with non toxic degradation products) tomorrow, well, even with that people will need to use this plastic correctly and to dispose of it properly. And there no universal "bioplastic" that will solve the issue but several materials ;)

I cannot make any promises about success but I can promise we are trying and we will keep trying to solve this problems while other people are also trying and progressing on resolving other issues such as discriminations ;)


message 23: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 7 comments I partially have to agree with you Alyson - I think technology is ruining us. Too many of us are constantly besides our phones or tablets and never separated. It’s a dangerous thing to rely on something so unreliable for various situations and scenarios.


message 24: by Anna (new)

Anna | 38 comments Florian wrote: "Hello!

It is scary but just like I mentioned some people are working on finding solutions, and one of them is actually writing those lines and I am not ready to give up! ;)"


Cool!! This must be very meaningful work. Hope you and your research team succeed in creating bioplastic!

And yes, I agree, it is still necessary to change attitude towards the amount of goods we consume or towards the throw-away society (hope it's correctly translated from my native language). Today I started to notice the amount of excess packing I throw away everyday, its quite a lot...

My late father used to wash and recycle plastic bags from bread, etc. Sometimes it created hygienic problems, but he was definitely onto something. He was from a generation where people repaired clothes and furniture etc, instead of throwing it away, and rarely bought anything new. When he was older he had enough money, but living like that had become a lifestyle to him. Maybe we will end up returning to those values.


message 25: by Charlene (new)

Charlene Morris | 89 comments From Radium Girls, I felt like the only research investment the dial companies did was to prove that the paint was safe. It did not seem like they were interested in putting money into researching new tools for dial painting, or paint composition and openly sharing the information. In fact it seemed like to the dial companies it was too expensive to put up warning signs.

Should we be more tolerant for companies that put money into research for safety for consumers/ environmental concerns of employees? How do you judge whether a company is being ethical?


message 26: by Pam (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
Charlene wrote: "From Radium Girls, I felt like the only research investment the dial companies did was to prove that the paint was safe. It did not seem like they were interested in putting money into researching ..."

We could even go further. Scientific thought is currently being monetized. Companies in an industry only paying for studies on items beneficial to their bottom line. Research into new ideas that might threaten that don't receive funding and therefore don't ever get pursued.

Or worse, we don't have funds for peer review. So many things are published but aren't validated or duplicated to remove bias. The number of studies approved that aren't tested is staggering.


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

I strongly agree with you Pam, in science just like in industry people usually think about immediate benefits and often skips tests.

I remember that during a group meeting someone was presenting his work and showed a slide telling that we need low cost plastics in order to be competitive and to break through, that it was a quite important point. I stopped the person and said "but is it really important for now? You are saying we need biobased, biorenewable, biodegradable and low cost plastics, I agree with you except that cheap should not be a priority. Processes can be optimized, rethink to lower the cost without putting aside bio sustainability." They looked at me saying "but if a company want to be competitive it needs cheap!"

I wish I said "is the true question: do we want to spend more money for tools/products knowing the materials and processes are not harmful for the environment, won't hinder sustainability and will be beneficial for life in general or are we that greedy and selfish to only want to satisfy our own needs without thinking about the consequences."

Yeah, projects that are actually good but keep in the shadows because they would threat the current business...
And publications... Most of the people are interesting in the amount of publications, the new break through for their reputation rather than helping the world (not only mankind)... HAAAAAA! Sometime I want to yell at those genius talkers that show how their works is good and smart "yes... But your stuff is polluting, is creating new needs that we do not need...."

Anyway, this will change ;)


message 28: by Rida (new)

Rida Imran  (ridaimran) | 22 comments Hello everyone!

I am a medical student and we recently had a class on ethics. Is it possible to be innovative following ethics codes?

Eg. In the case of drug trials how is it ethical to try them on rats or guinea pigs? Or even on people after it works on the animals?

And what are the alternatives to this? Do we stick to the already tried and tested?


message 29: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea | 7 comments Rida,

I don’t think testing on animals is ethical at all, especially since studies are beginning to show that the use of laboratory animals isn’t as effective as it was once thought to be. Animals don’t always have the same reactions as humans. Guinea pigs were once thought to be a good use to predict allergic reactions and asthma, but the accuracy is lacking. Plus, after testing on animals, human clinical trials have to occur to ensure the results. Furthermore, new approach methodologies are much more appropriate (such as artificial organs).

How much research does medical school teach you about new approach methodologies? I know there’s not as much federal funding for alternatives as there is for laboratory animals.


message 30: by Rida (new)

Rida Imran  (ridaimran) | 22 comments Chelsea wrote: "Rida,

I don’t think testing on animals is ethical at all, especially since studies are beginning to show that the use of laboratory animals isn’t as effective as it was once thought to be. Animal..."


Hmm...yes but aren't human trails also unethical?

We actually haven't been taught about other methods since we're still in medschool it is very unlikely we'll be doing new drugs in our research, most of our researches are more questionnaire or already present approved drugs or blood tests based..


message 31: by Chelsea (last edited Aug 10, 2018 05:49AM) (new)

Chelsea | 7 comments Rida wrote: "Chelsea wrote: "Rida,

I don’t think testing on animals is ethical at all, especially since studies are beginning to show that the use of laboratory animals isn’t as effective as it was once thoug..."


From the point of view from a law student (who took a course in the ethicals and laws of animal testing recently), I think it is more ethical to test on humans (after using new approach methodologies and drug development) than testing than on non-human animals for several reasons. First, humans consent, usually by informed consent, to clinical trials. Thus, they have a choice. Animals do not have a choice. Isn't it unethical to test on a perfectly healthy creature that cannot consent to the harm that may occur? Second, animals often do not benefit from laboratory research, especially when it comes to pharmaceutical drug testing. If it was laboratory research for their own benefit, it would be more rational and debatably more ethical. But since laboratories are using these animals for human benefit, there is the issue of specieism with one species suffering for the benefit of another. Third, as I briefly mentioned above, federal funding is limited to new approach methodologies so there is not a lot of incentive for researchers to try other approaches, even though under the Animal Welfare Act, applicants for thr use of laboratory animals must research and review alternatives before submitting their protocol to the facility's IACUC (overseeing commitee). Fourth, human clinical trials must occur after animal testing to ensure accuracy of results. Therefore, human clinic trials occur anyways. So why would non-human animals have to suffer if human clinical trials are required to occur? And one final point, there is not enough money in the enforcement budget provided by the USDA to ensure proper care and husbandry for laboratory animals. Therefore, some laboratory animals are not recieving proper medical care, environmental enrichment, or housing. And this is worse for some species than others. For example: birds, mice, and rats are not protected under the AWA in the same manor as cats, dogs, or other small mammals like guinea pigs and rabbits. Birds, mice, and rats to not receive the same standard of care, meaning the can suffer more harm and pain. They dont have to be provided with the same standard of vet medical care or husbandry. So they are often in a significant amount of pain, sometimes even starved or killed for science. Humans rarely have to suffer to this extent. And humans are able to communicate when they are in pain and recieve proper care (by wonderful doctors such as yourself). Plus we as a society often don't want humans to suffer. However, we care much less about animals, especially mice and rats.

As a soon to be doctor - what do you think of the dentists and doctors treatments in this book? Do you think these women recived the best medical care for their time? Or was it insufficient? Would things be different today?


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