Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

  1. Jan 9, 2005 #1

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Wow! I had heard of this but really didn't understand what had happened.

    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0762136.html

    Also
    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/health/may97/tuskegee_5-16.html
    http://www.npr.org/programs/morning/features/2002/jul/tuskegee/
    http://www.gpc.edu/~shale/humanities/composition/assignments/experiment/tuskegee.html
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 10, 2005 #2

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    This story makes clear my objection to many opinions expressed in this and the other science forums. The next time someone automatically turns up their nose at the notion of conspiracies, tell them to get their head out of the clouds. Conspiracies are a very real part of life on every level. It is naive and foolish to think otherwise.

     
  4. Jan 10, 2005 #3
    The problem with conspiracy theories is that they are in many cases outside science. Usually they cannot be disproven, there will always be the possibility that the conspiracy has fabricated any evidence against it. Especially the more large scale conspiracies. And it is always possible to fit the facts to the theory by making the theory more complex and ad hoc.

    Conspiracy theories should therefore be evaluated by how well they make predictions. Alternatively, by how complex their explanation is, a conspiracy theory is only interesting if it less complex than previous explanations. (Ockham's razor). And large scale, world-wide, long-time conspiraces are very complex.
     
  5. Jan 10, 2005 #4

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    To me that quote below says the opposite: the fact that consipiracies exist makes people irrationally believe they are everywhere. That's a bad thing.

    Yes, some conspiracies are real: that doesn't mean all are. Science sites are about sticking to reality.

    Case-in-point: the Kursk thread above and the recent 9/11 thread. Entertaining, yes, but indicative of a serious problem - a disconnect with reality.
     
  6. Jan 12, 2005 #5

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Case in point, this thread. Don't change the subject.

    Conspiracies are real, dangerous, and abundant. The most dangerous thing about the wacko conspiracy theories is that they discredit the notion that real conspiracies exist. Conspiracies are reality. I'm sure that the 399 men, their affected wives and children, and their families would agree. Don't you, Russ? Isn't this real enough for you?

    Consider the magnitude of what people are capable of given so called good motives. I am sure that virtually every person involved had some rationalization to justify what they were doing.
     
  7. Jan 12, 2005 #6

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Most conspiracies sound wacko until proven to be real. Then they are called shocking.

    I'm not saying that anyone should run off and join any conspiracy clubs. I'm saying, don't beat the notion of conspiracies into the ground to the point where we would all be sitting ducks.

    The other problem is that the word conspiracy cannotes a large and radical conspiracy. This is also misleading. A conspiracy only requires two people, but two people can do a lot of damage.
     
  8. Jan 12, 2005 #7
    The Tuskegee experiment is a small scale conspiracy and is plausible.However, most people prefer gigantic world-wide and/or supernatural conspiracies like many of those here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conspiracy_theory
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_alleged_conspiracy_theories

    One problem with conspiracies is that they are extremely difficult to keep secret as the number of people increase. The information about the conspiracy becomes valuable. And people will be tempted to reveal it when charged with other crimes, for blackmail, revenge, ethical reasons or to write a bestseller. And not even the threat of violence can stop that since many people think too highly of themselves and that they can avoid any threats.

    One other problem with illegal conspiracies is that they cannot use the legal system. As such they have no legal way to resolve internal conflicts. That means that large conspiracies will splinter into small groups usually waging violent terror against each other. That is the reason there are no criminal organizations having a monopoly on the scale of nations. Even the mafia was split into many groups often fighting each other and even together they never had any absolute control even of organized crime in the US.

    The only large scale conspiracies on the scale of the world that can succeed are those organized by the state. They usually become known for the reasons state above but this does not matter since they are legal, at least in their own country. And they can use the legal system to resolve internal conflicts. For examples see "Real life imitates conspiracy theory"
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conspiracy_theory
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2005
  9. Jan 12, 2005 #8
    I'm sorry, this is off topic, but I had to post it. This is from the wikipedia site that Aquamarine referenced:

    "As of 12th October 2004, Exxon Mobile's share price has risen by 48% since the invasion of Iraq, out-performing the Dow Jone's average by 18%." hmmm....
    Also, the search for WMD's is officially over; there are none, and they don't expect to find any. You can find the story at aol.com.

    ok, now back to the tuskegee tragedy.
     
  10. Jan 12, 2005 #9

    kat

    User Avatar

    Or yeah...." hmmm...." 2 words for you conspiricist...venezaula..and soros...er, 3 words i guess.
    OooOoooh..yeah...see I told you it was true...that UN/syria/russian/french conspiracy....ebil ebil ebil...
     
  11. Jan 12, 2005 #10
    Who was it who said something like: "For those who believe, no evidence is necessary. For those who don't believe, no amount of evidence is enough"?
     
  12. Jan 12, 2005 #11
    wow, kat has it all figured out, plus she's condescending. So, problems in Venezuela = 48% rise in exxon share price since start of Iraq war...

    "OooOoooh..yeah...see I told you it was true...that UN/syria/russian/french conspiracy....ebil ebil ebil..." Is that a reference to porky pig? No, you're right Kat, no one was trying to tell Bush that Iraq didn't have wmd's or nuclear capabilities. Bush didn't use selected sources to justify a war that has achieved... wait, what was the point? Do you need sources for all this? Turn off Fox for starters. And oh, nobody is impressed by what you surely consider to be witty satire.
     
  13. Jan 12, 2005 #12

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Yeah, who did that in post 2...? :uhh:
    And I absolutely agree as well.
    Now what would make you say that? This one was real. My objection is to conspiracy theories that are not real. You're attempting a straw-man here, Ivan. You are the one who tried to extend this to be a general statement about conspiracy theories, not me.

    Yes, this particular conspiracy was real and heinous. Why couldn't you just leave it at that? In fact, to me that's disrespectful: "...they discredit the notion that real conspiracies exist..." Exactly. By trying to extend this, you're being disrepectful to those 399 men and discrediting the conspiracy that harmed them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2005
  14. Jan 12, 2005 #13
    What about the Blair governments conspiracy theory of 1/ Hussein having WMDs, and 2/ having the capability of hitting the UK with them within 45 minutes of launch. We went to war because we believed these lies.

    "Key intelligence used to justify war with Iraq has now been shown to be unreliable, the Butler Report says....MI6 did not check its sources well enough, and sometimes relied on third hand reports. ...the 2002 dossier should not have included the claim Iraq could use weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes without further explanation".
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3890961.stm
     
  15. Jan 12, 2005 #14

    kat

    User Avatar

    erm..is that what I said?..I don't remember saying that..maybe you need to go back and quote in full... :yuck:
     
  16. Jan 12, 2005 #15

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

  17. Jan 13, 2005 #16
    Let me add to that-

    "We went to war because we (chicken hawks in DC) wanted to believe these lies (<--great word choice)."

    There seems to be this common misconception that there was only one line of intelligence that the administration had to choose from. Let me put it this way, there was conflicting reports about wmd in Iraq and therefore reasonable doubt. So why rush to war? Oh yeah, the imminent threat thing.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?