Today in Research: The Need for Transparency in Human Trials

Discovered: remote, polluted lakes; uninformed fish; a comet crossbow; clinical trial check-up; and one place to be to find undiscovered invertebrates.

  • New theory: Disinterested fish are great for democracy. It seems like it takes a leap to equate one's experiments with prodding "groups of shiner fish" toward color-coded underwater rewards to find parallels for evaluating participatory democracy, but that's what one team, led by Dr Iain Couzin, from Princeton University, did. We'll spare the technical process (it's here at BBC News). But from Couzin's explanation to to Miller-McCune it seems that the "uninformed" fish tend to embolden the majority and "inhibit the minority" by negating their views. Except when there's "too many" uninformed fish at which point "the process breaks down." [BBC News, Miller-McCune]
  • Research done on humans still needs to be more transparent. Yesterday, scientists appeared to be coalescing around the idea of ending most invasive research on chimpanzees. Today, a new report by the presidential bioethics commission checks in on how clinical trials conducted on humans by government agencies are progressing. According to Reuters, the report utters a familiar complaint about bureaucracy: it's not very transparent. Even though "U.S. government agencies fund thousands of studies on human subjects, [they] do not have a very good handle on the basic information about that research -- possibly putting participants in harm's way." [Reuters]

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