What the World Got Wrong About Lance Armstrong and Oscar Pistorius

Lance Armstrong cheated and bullied. These are not shocking revelations. Oscar Pistorius had a history of altercations with his girlfriend and is now accused of murder. More shocking, by far, but hardly the first athlete to be accused of such wrong doing. Should we be so thoroughly shocked to find out the Armstrong and Pistorius […]

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Informed Consent 1950s Style

In her deservedly best-selling book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot reproduces the language of Lacks’s informed consent document when she was about to undergoing her cancer surgery at Johns Hopkins in 1951:    I hereby give consent to the staff of the Johns Hopkins Hospital to    perform any operative procedures and under any anesthetic […]

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Do Oncologists Lie to Their Patients About Their Prognoses?

Andrews was easily the most anxious patient I took care of that month, a gray Michigan February (is there any other kind?) which I spent in the hospital caring for patients admitted to the general medical ward at the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Medical Center. (Andrews is a pseudonym, as are all the patients I blog about, unless […]

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The True Immoral Acts Behind The First "Test Tube Baby"

The first test tube baby was born July 25th, 1978 in the north of England.  Louise Brown was called the “baby of the century” by some and a “moral abomination” by others.  It wasn’t Brown who critics accused of being immoral, of course.  She was just a blameless infant.  Instead, it was her doctors who […]

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The Ethics of "Manipulative" Product Rebates

In two recent posts, I have posed questions about the appropriateness or inappropriateness of manipulating consumers by taking advantage of behavioral phenomena beyond their awareness. We behavioral scientists know things about human nature that most people haven’t learned. That is why we can fill books with visual illusions – our understanding of how the brain […]

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Can a $20 Rebate Amount to Highway Robbery?

Steven Johnson was a rising star at the NordicWear Company, even before that brutal winter of 2002. But then, thanks to a rebate program he instituted for their new line of snow pants, he rocketed up the corporate ladder. His plan was brilliant in its simplicity. Late in the previous winter, he ran a series […]

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Violation of Rights or Saving a Life?

A NY woman is suing her doctor for testing her for HIV without her consent, then telling her the result (which was positive). I recently participated in a HuffPost Live discussion on this doctor’s actions. Watch it here.

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Is Sex Reassignment Surgery a Basic Human Right?

I expect most of us agree that an incarcerated felon experiencing a heart attack should receive medical treatment, even if that treatment comes at taxpayers’ expense.  The same probably goes for more preventive measures—blood pressure pills, cancer screening tests and the like.  While serving out the sentence for their crimes, prisoners should not be forced […]

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Mortgaging Your Womb

I recently participated in a conversation on HuffPo Live about whether fertility finance companies are preying on families desperate to have children.  Watch the segment here.

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Is It Wrong for Medical Students to "Tattle" on Their Supervisors?

Alex, a third-year medical student, is in the middle of his surgery rotation. He frequently finds himself rather shocked by some of the unseemly remarks that his attending, Dr. Tate, makes during surgery and between seeing patients on rounds. A highly respected surgeon, Dr. Tate is personable with patients and well liked by them, but […]

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