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Community Participation

The article I read HERE talks about how important it is that community members participate in medical research. It especially wants to promote the participation of African Americans and Latinos as these populations are underrepresented in medical studies. The under-representation of these groups "hampers our abilities to develop new ways to understand and treat diseases in these groups." They believe the way to increase these groups' participation is through more information and better access. They're developing a website, information line, and a public awareness campaign to spread information. Barriers need to be broken down in medical research and people of all backgrounds need to be represented. By providing people with more information, they will dispel common misconceptions and fears people have about participating in research. Although the medical field has trouble recruiting people of all populations but it is even more difficult getting people from minority groups to participate. And it is these populations which have more prevalent cases of cancer, diabetes, and hypertension. Do you think that minority groups have more cases of these diseases because they have been somewhat ignored in medical research? Why do you think minorities are less likely to participate in medical studies?

The Idea of Cosmetics- good, or bad, or in between?

The idea of cosmetics is a big one. Many movie stars and music artists all use makeup to make themselves look more beautiful, for example Julia Roberts or Rihanna.
I for one still use my makeup everyday even though there may side effects from certain brands. Many women still use these cosmetics because even though they know of the side effects they still are bought into the idea of using makeup and other cosmetic products to look quote on quote "good" or "appealing" for the public and /or themselves. Lots of women and even some men use these products all over the world. I think cosmetics are a good business, the people using these products have a choice of which one's they want to use and i think that if we do some research on what chemicals are used within these products then women and men will learn how to use better brands that aren't as destructive. For instance, I started using makeup in 8th grade, but then I stopped because I was scared of what kinds of chemicals I was putting on my face /body, but then started up again in 10th grade because I did some of my own research and discovered that even though most brands of makeup possibly hold the same side effects, some may be better for your skin and /or body. So, I think using cosmetics is a great thing if it makes you feel better about yourself, but all we have to do to keep ourselves safe is research certain brands and see if what we're using is the best product that's out there.
So my question to you all is, think about what kinds of brands of makeup or other cosmetic products you are using and question yourself on if what you are using is the best thing for you and your skin/body. Also, think about the question of do we as a society need to buy into the idea of beauty? And if you want to, how will you try to avoid being talked into by these cosmetic businesses of what it means to be beautiful?

In Cosmetics We Trust?

Re: Deadly Cosmetics by patt0037 November 21, 2010

I think the cosmetic industry is an excellent example of untrustworthiness in the science field. The reason for this is because cosmetics are deeply rooted in culture, and are seen as less along the lines of science and more along the lines of material culture. As a result, women consider their beauty products to be accessories, modes of self-expression, or natural ways of maintaining feminine perfection. The problem with the cosmetic industry is not that it is not trusted, the problem is that it is. Buzz words like organic, mineral, deep cleansing, "good for your skin" cause women to inherently trust their arsenal of cosmetics, when in reality, as detailed by the blog post and article, they can be quite harmful, even lethal. Although we have come a long way from using lead powder on our faces, we have endorsed the use of skin whiteners, and other products that are quite bad for health in the long term. The problem is that women don't know what's in their products, and have no real way to find out as a result of cosmetic companies not having to submit their products to the FDA for analysis and approval. After seeing the presentation on the cosmetic industry, my trust of these companies has gone down considerably. We need to have a mechanism of knowing what is in our products so we can trust that what we are using is safe. If there was a community of scientists and lay persons working on regulating the cosmetic industry, I think we could come a long way.

Vaccines Reveal Our Distrust


Vaccines in general and the HPV vaccine specifically are a good entry point into thinking about the general public's trust in science and medicine. Our class discussed the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, at length and a lot of issues were brought up. In the blog post "Women as a Vessel for Prevention" posted by Wagne423 on November 8th, some important issues surrounding the vaccine are highlighted, such as who is targeted as the recipient of the vaccine, who is ignored, and who is forced to be vaccinated. These questions should make us think about who is asking them and what they have to gain. There has been a lot of backlash against vaccines in our class because of the fraction of negative reactions, but less focus has been on the fact that this could veritably wipe out a majority of all cervical cancer, yet women are not mandated to get the vaccine when it could do the most good. Currently, we hear from the media about one case of a terrible side effect, we also hear about the opposition to the proposed mandate because of concerns over women's sexual morality, and then we hear from doctors about the benefits of this vaccine and its safety. Instead of trying to sift through this sea of information trying to find truth, it would vastly improve the publics' trust in science and medicine if there was more community involvement, if scrutiny from lay people was accepted along with medical professionals, and the scare tactics of the media were removed and a more nuanced understanding of benefits could be accessed.

1 step @ a time, yo

To be honest, I think that the United States is too far away from ever adapting democratic scientific processes like those we talked about in class, but in saying this I feel that I need to make the distinction between the United States as a whole and individual communities. As a whole, the U.S. will probably never demonstrate such a radical and truly democratic scientific process like we saw in Denmark, but at the community level it is much easier to obtain the financial resources and the political attitudes that are necessary for realizing such a drastically different (non-hierarchical) model of scientific practice like that seen in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis.

To bring this idea of big vs. small change into the realm of animal ethics (my group project), I would say that it's far less likely that we'll ever see ethical scientific practice reform on a grand scale such as within the research networks of large pharmaceutical companies for whom ''ethical practices'' are probably far from the top of the list of princial concerns. On the other hand, however, we will sometimes see individual labs going to great lengths to ensure that their practices fall in line with their ethical convictions (Kewalo Marine Laboratory, University of Hawaii, as mentioned in Donna Haraway's ''Sharing Suffering'').

What all of this means is that these types of change in scientific practice can not happen at the institutional level, at least not overnight. They are simply not structured in a way that accomodates the asking of these types of questions, as they are usually for-profit. Change must first occur at the community level and slowly work its way up the ladder.

The commodification of humans

This blog entry is in reference to my earlier blog post on genetic engineering for week 9 titled "Brave New World". The earlier entry was about the movie Gattaca in which in a post modern world, all humans have been genetically engineered or should I say genetically enhanced and those who have not been genetically enhanced will be cast aside and marginalized because of their 'inadequacies'. I think this week's readings about trustworthiness in scientific research, building democratic science, and community participation in scientific research are certainly very relevant issues and concerns in this fictitious but plausible in the foreseeable future scenario. Already stem cell engineering has been at the forefront of scientific research for years and who knows just how far we have gone behind closed doors of the government and military? I for one do not have much trust in the government and military if a scientific breakthrough were to happen at the expense of marginalizing the worth of the human species. We have already genetically engineered just about everything that can be commoditized and turned into a profit be it cows, salmon, seeds, corn or chickens. What is left is the purity of the human race. However there is clearly no stopping in this field as there is huge money to be made, and many exploitations and advancements to be seen and we will all certainly be participants in futuristic society. Just how do we promote trust that these technologies will be used for the good of mankind and be kept in safe hands?

Trusting our Hand-sanitizers

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The post by rieh0027 discussing the ethics of hand-sanitizers and their testing on November 11, 2010 will be referenced.

When we were discussing un/trustworthy scientific research on Monday, I recalled the discussion of the group on Biofears about hand-sanitizers and also recalled a blog post for that week about how the hand-sanitizers are tested. In rieh0027's post, they stated that "the manufacturers test these products on inanimate surfaces and this is how they come to the conclusion that 99.9% of germs are killed by their product." An associate professor at Purdue University, Barbara Almanza, (this taken from the link in the original blog post) has seen that "the research shows that hand sanitizers do not significantly reduce the number of bacteria on the hand and in some cases may potentially increase the amount of bacteria on the hand." The human hand has much more complexity than inanimate surfaces, so it would be obvious that results from tests on a human hand would be different from inanimate surfaces.
This is a prime example of the untrustworthiness of scientific research. Companies and manufacturers need to start testing on humans instead of bars of metal or a table top, if not for ensuring the 99.9% that they claim, then at least to give the correct results to the public and earn their trust (or possibly losing the trust since they're effectively lying with saying that their products are nearly perfect when they are not). In this case, scientific research has been altered so that it would benefit the companies selling the hand-sanitizers instead of benefiting the consumers who will and do use these products.

Not trusting animal research

Original Entry: Cure or Crime
By patt0337 on November 7, 2010

I think that Animal Research debates in general really show the untrustworthiness of scientific research. As patt0337 blogged that many new discoveries for vaccines and such have come about from testing on animals and have saved thousands of lives. There have also been cures and vaccines found for feline leukemia and canine distemper through testing on animals also, so it must be beneficial for humans and all other animals to test on animals. But I think the untrustworthiness of the scientific research comes in when people do not know the methods that are being used to test these animals and if the test are relevant at all (for example testing the effects of smoking on monkeys or getting them addicted to cocaine and the like), if we already know the outcome. Also patt0337 mentions the drug Vioxx that was proven to work for arthritis patients from research on animals but later was discovered to actually increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes for people who used it. I think when information like this comes out to the public and animal activists, it really just ingrains the untrustworthiness of science when testing on animals because how can people trust this research when information like that is available.

In response to "The Price of Beauty"

In reaction to olden040's week 11 post I would like to point out the statement that was made about wrinkle cream. Not only is it dangerous to our health but it doesn't work in most cases. This brings up the issue of scientific integrity and responsibility. Obviously their are scientists involved in the production of cosmetics or they simply wouldn't work as well as they do. I think the fact that scientific ventures chose to overlook safety while performing experiments or producing products is a large part of the reason that trust issues arise. The average person does not have access to the information associated with science even if it directly effects their health, as with the cosmetics. The general public puts their trust in the hands of science to conduct research in a responsible and ethical way, but often there is little or no guidance in terms of how this is done. I feel like we need some kind of executive board to ensure that products and chemicals produced are both safe and ethical. Blind trust is neither enough nor attainable. Information needs to be readily available, clear and accurate for consumers to make a healthy choice and at this point in time science is failing the community that supports it in this venture.

Eduardo Kac, changing the trustworthiness of science

Original Post: Sept 15 2010, steen118 Eduardo Kac

The posting about Eduardo Kac's piece "Natural History of Enigma" is an example of the trustworthiness of scientific research. This piece was a combination of human DNA with a petunia's DNA to produce an aesthetic piece. Kac has been known for his controversial art pieces that combine different organisms DNA in various ways to produce different effects. This piece along with the transgenic bunny, Alba, questions the intent of scientific research. His art is almost to the point of mad scientist standing. The University of Minnesota helped Kac with the production of the petunia. The University being a research institute adds another layer to the trustworthiness of this project. Is it appropriate for a public research institution to fund such a project? I originally learned about this project by working with the scientist who was developing the petunias. At the time I thought this project was amazing, something so powerful. Looking again through a new lens I am not so sure of that fact. It seems that this is an irresponsible use of science. Alba was also an example of an irresponsible way to use science. In no way is this creating a democratic science. It is reinforcing the scientist (and in this case artist as well) as the god role. Someone who can mess with nature to do whatever they want.

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