Did You Know the Federal Government Regulates Almost All Research Involving Human Subjects?

Once upon a time some researchers gave people diseases and prevented their treatment without those folks’ consent or knowledge. Other researchers let volunteers think that they were torturing folks. This so horrified many that they created a system of regulation where any academic “experiments” must have prior approval by an Institutional Review Board (IRB). And that system has expanded to the point of requiring prior approval for any interaction between researchers and non-researchers intended to be the basis of an academic publication.

That is, researchers seeking publication can’t talk to people (e.g., survey), or buy or sell something with them, or even pay them to do trivial tasks like correcting spelling mistakes, without first writing out a detailed plan months in advance and getting that approved by a committee of other academics.

Full Robin Hanson piece on regulation gone too far is worth reading.

Comments (5)

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  1. Bruce says:

    Re: you question in the title.

    I didn’t know it and it is obviously a bad idea.

  2. Tom H. says:

    Agree with Bruce. Terrible idea.

  3. Brian Williams. says:

    Not sure who I trust less, the federal government or a bunch of academics who want to study me.

  4. Devon Herrick says:

    Years ago I was working with a hospital committee to measure outcomes. Because we were using a dataset that was composed of patient billing data we were told we would be required to apply to the Human Subjects Research Committee. I thought that was weird since there were no human subjects being experimented on. I was merely using regression to look for patterns.

  5. Erik says:

    It is a very good thing that academics have to publically state what they intend to study and how they intend to interact with their subjects. There is too much of a dark side to consider here.

    As they say “sunlight is the best disinfectant.”