Saturday, August 9, 2014

We are not monsters, we're moral people: Chairman of the Bored edition

Helpful commentatoriser Helmut Monotreme was wondering the other day:
Really? Scientifically dubious, unethical stem cell therapy as a treatment for autism. Dare I ask if that particular treatment has passed a review board?
Now here at Riddled Research we are keenly attuned to the ethical issues of experimenting on unwitting or often unwilling human subjects, and we are scrupulous about swinging each proposal past the Independent Review Board -- they have their own rubber-stamp! -- before warming up the Evolvamat.
Behold our IRB. Despite the geometrical blocks and the matching holes in the ground, and the black-clad ninja figures concealing themselves behind one of the blocks, the scene is not from Andrew Lloyd Webber's new stage production consisting of a dramatised and musically-enhanced game of Tetris. Though anyone who chose that answer when we used the picture in last week's quiz need feel no shame for it an easy mistake to make. Better luck next week, Thundra!

Now a great boon to mad scientists is the Clinical Trials database, which provides a window into what other mad scientists are doing and whence they are sourcing their IRB advice. And here is an interesting entry for a study that finished in April, with results due real soon now:
The purpose of this study is to show that a magnetic field applied to the front part of the brain of children suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD) can improve function and ameliorate symptoms.
What happens, wondered researcher Jeff Bradstreet, when you take TMS a.k.a. transcranial magnetic stimulation -- a well-established method of rebooting parts of the brain -- and rebrand it as "magnetic resonance therapy™ ", with a trademark as a signifier of seriousness? As any fule kno, in TMS you whack the subject on the noggin with a clock-key winder a transient magnietic pulse from a butterfly coil induces an electric current through part of the cortex [blame those bleeding-heart interfering liberals for banning small nuclear explosions, the obvious way of producing a cerebral EMP].

Bradstreet credits one Yi Jin as the pioneer of MRT™:
Professor Yi Jin of the Newport Brain Research Laboratory and the Brain Treatment Center in Newport Beach, California, developed a different theory about the way the brain functions and how it uses harmonic energy to synchronize its communications. That led him to develop a new system of transcranial magnetic stimulation now known as MRT™.
"Harmonic energy"? Faith in the competence and credibility of all involved remains uninspired. The reported price of $11,500 for a month's treatment does not help.

Bradstreet -- biomedical envelope-pusher extraordinaire and erstwhile exorcist -- has also run trials on hyperbaric oxygen (in our own experience, litotic oxygen is no worse than the hyperbolic kind). No trials are recorded for his other autism treatments -- with secretin, industrial chelators, injections of cells from Ukrainian embryos, and now magic Guernsey-Island yogurt -- so they must have been insufficiently invasive or experimental to warrant the oversight of an IRB.

Meanwhile back at Riddled HQ, the most recent experiment was almost a success, spoiled only by the subject's failure to raise the hands fast enough in a gesture of abject surrender.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Not even a "close enough for government work???"


P.S. Perhaps Mr. Bradstreet would get more and/or better results if he used more signifiers of seriousness.

Perhaps a Verification of Verisimilitude™³²®© would do the trick.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I find Mr Bradstreet's failure to mention "Tesla technology" to be an unforgivable lapse.

Helmut Monotreme said...

Sounds legit. After all, if one cant trust the "Shadowy figures who look like they might be disposing of a corpse at midnight IRB" to be ethical, who can you trust?

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

they all laughed at christopher columbus