November 29, 2005

Hwang Scandal Not Overblown

Glenn Reynolds is wrong when he says:

THIS SCANDAL over Korean cloning expert Dr. Hwang Woo Suk and his lab seems like pretty small beer to me. Yes, you don't want egg donations to be coerced, but the fact that junior researchers donated eggs doesn't demonstrate coercion to me. There's a long tradition of scientists participating in their own experiments, and I wonder if there isn't a trace of sexism in the notion that junior female researchers must have been coerced.

The worst of the scandal isn't that the junior female researchers must have been coerced. I could be persuaded either way. The problem is that when Dr. Hwang found out about what happened he did not tell the truth. He lied about what happened. When you lie about any aspect of your research protocols, there is a natural question what else you might have found embarrassing and inconvenient enough to lie about. Your research becomes suspect and must be approached with greater caution by others in the field.

Dr. Hwang rightly resigned over his lies. If he had told the truth, he might have escaped that. It's a pity that Glenn Reynolds can't see the real ethical problem.

Posted by TMLutas at November 29, 2005 12:49 PM