The Unknowns of Experimentation
Experimentation is a topic that isn’t talked about a lot. But, it is a topic that is important. Why? Experimentation has affected many people, and many of the studies that affected people were very unethical. Ethics are moral principles. The four principles of bioethics are Justice, Beneficence, Non-maleficence, and Autonomy. Justice connects to fairness, equality, and equity. Beneficence maximizes the benefits of a certain event, such as a Study or experiments. Non-Maleficence means to do no harm. Autonomy respects a person as a whole, stating that no person will be treated with less respect than any other person. But, which type of experimentation is worse; Human experiments or animal experiments? I believe that human experimentation is worse because some studies were unethical, experiments on people will “scar” their future, and the people (along with their families) have a chance of being deceived.
Although some studies were unethical, not all of them were. But, there were studies that were extremely unethical, breaking every principle of bioethics there are. One example of such unethical behavior comes from one of the worst, and most devastating, events in history; World War 2. More specifically, the Nazis. The Nazis did many unethical things, but some of the worst, apart from the mass killing of Jews (also referred to as the Holocaust), is their experiments. They did all sorts of experiments, testing things from high altitude brain tests to low temperature body tests. These tests were performed on war prisoners, Jews, or people (a.k.a “criminals”) in their concentration camps. Nazi doctors did not ask any of their subjects for consent. They did not try to follow any of the laws of bioethics. And, as a result, millions of people died from their experiments alone, not counting any other people that the Nazis killed. To add onto the list of unethical events, they also killed any subjects that were alive after the tests to leave no evidence that the tests even occured. But, you may be asking, were the Nazis the only ones who performed unethical studies? Surprisingly, or not, they weren’t. The next unethical study actually happened in the United States. It was, as some of you may know, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. This study was originally meant to show the world that a black body was the same as a white body, in terms of developing illnesses. Unfortunately, the study strayed far from this original mindset. What happened, you may be asking. Well, for one, the Study went on for 40 years! It was originally intended to go on for 6 months but, as is seen happening a lot with this study, it don’t go according to plan. And, the men that were tested weren’t even given the cure for syphilis once it was released, causing the men without syphilis to contract it and the men with syphilis to die. In fact, the Study was so bad that, in 1997, President Bill Clinton apologized nationally for the study.
My next point as to why human experimentation is worse than animal experimentation is because, if someone is experimented on and survives, which might be highly unlikely, they will always remember the experience. The survivors might develop the illness PTSD. PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. It causes the person to remember a harsh event, such as experimentation, over and over again. I do not know the exact symptoms, but I do know that the main symptom of PTSD is the memory of the event. How will this affect them in the future? Well, one example would be that they would be seen as different, which is something that our society really dislikes. This would put the survivors in a state where they might have a higher chance of developing depression from being thought of as “different”, adding on to the list of bad events that they have experienced. But, there is also a high chance that the survivor of the experiments might die during the experiments, or from the people running the experiments afraid to leave evidence behind.
Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman developed cervical cancer. This is significant because her cancerous cells went on to become the world’s first immortal cell line, meaning that her cells could reproduce over and over and still live. But, her cells were taken without her consent and knowledge. She died later that year from cervical cancer. To make matters worse, the family was not informed about the cells being used, until the doctor that removed them, Dr Gey, died of cancer himself. The family was never given any of the money that the cells made, which can be counted today as millions. This shows how racism was a key factor back during the 1900’s, and how racism affected even that of experimentation. Racism is also shown on the Nazi experiments by most of the tests being conducted on Jews, which was a race that the Nazis blamed for the cause of all the war, meaning that people believed that they deserved their punishments. And, racism can also be seen in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, since they only tested on African American males. As stated before, they also didn’t receive treatment for syphilis even after the cure, penicillin, was released. Test subjects are lied to and deceived because of many sorts of reasons, but racism also plays a key role.
To conclude, out of human and animal experimentation, human experimentation is worse because they are more unethical and can leave either short term effects, such as death, or long term effects, such as mental illnesses like PTSD and depression. They’re also highly affected by racism, which can lead to more of one race being tested on than the other, breaking the principle of Justice.
The Unknowns of Experimentation by Anthony is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.