Twentieth-century science education and 21st-century genetic engineering technologies: A toxic mix

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

I challenge the “convenient consensus” that He Jiankui is a “bad apple” in order to consider alternative explanations for why He may have ventured down the ill-considered path in his research that he did. The answer I want to proffer is that He was ill-equipped by his education and training in biomedical research to appropriately weigh the competing goods he encountered and thus was not able to be swayed by the clear guidance that basic ethical considerations would have provided. If true, this shows us why, much as we would like to take solace in him being a bad apple, we should be prompted by this episode to focus instead on systems level contributors to He’s decisions that, if left unaddressed, will surely lead to similarly reckless episodes by other researchers in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAccountability in Research
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

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genetic engineering
twentieth century
science
education

Keywords

  • Genetics and ethics
  • human subjects ethics
  • legal and regulatory issues in research
  • mentoring
  • misconduct in research
  • public trust
  • RCR education and instruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Library and Information Sciences

Cite this

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title = "Twentieth-century science education and 21st-century genetic engineering technologies: A toxic mix",
abstract = "I challenge the “convenient consensus” that He Jiankui is a “bad apple” in order to consider alternative explanations for why He may have ventured down the ill-considered path in his research that he did. The answer I want to proffer is that He was ill-equipped by his education and training in biomedical research to appropriately weigh the competing goods he encountered and thus was not able to be swayed by the clear guidance that basic ethical considerations would have provided. If true, this shows us why, much as we would like to take solace in him being a bad apple, we should be prompted by this episode to focus instead on systems level contributors to He’s decisions that, if left unaddressed, will surely lead to similarly reckless episodes by other researchers in the future.",
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AB - I challenge the “convenient consensus” that He Jiankui is a “bad apple” in order to consider alternative explanations for why He may have ventured down the ill-considered path in his research that he did. The answer I want to proffer is that He was ill-equipped by his education and training in biomedical research to appropriately weigh the competing goods he encountered and thus was not able to be swayed by the clear guidance that basic ethical considerations would have provided. If true, this shows us why, much as we would like to take solace in him being a bad apple, we should be prompted by this episode to focus instead on systems level contributors to He’s decisions that, if left unaddressed, will surely lead to similarly reckless episodes by other researchers in the future.

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