Gavin (selfishgene) wrote,

Institutional Review Board

A judgment body from whose decisions there is no appeal; secret regulations, unknown, typically, even to body members; an ever-widening scrutiny, even of mundane activities, for unconforming ideologies.
We can see the bureaucratic mindset of prior restraint in its full horror here. Every attempt by any person to rationally investigate a topic must first obtain approval from religious or secular ethicists (witchdoctors). It would be far better to allow any investigation without restraint and then provide recourse to civil or criminal procedures when important ethical rules are breached. The irrational sects have always longed to bring science under their power and IRBs empower them to do so. I expect their stranglehold on research to become ever tighter.

Criticism of an IRB, however gentle, is probably career suicide for any researcher. Since there is no appeal from their decisions they are likely to punish anyone who dissents by curtailing their research projects. (I base this purely on my cynical view of human nature not any actual evidence.) I found one brave skeptical commenter on this subject :

But in his account, the FBI was not Harper's biggest problem; it investigated a threat of nuclear terrorism and closed the case with reasonable efficiency. The IRB, by contrast, apparently offered no such resolution. Perhaps Price needs to worry less about the National Security State and more about the Human Subjects Protection State.
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