Letter - Don't Use Nazi Data

Alan Nixon's misguided essay supporting the use of scientific data taken from experiments conducted on tortured humans by the Nazis demands a vigorous rebuttal. To my mind, Mr. Nixon's argument is spurious, offensive, and further underscores the need to emphasize the study of ethics in professional life, including the sciences. Using the Nazi data would be abhorrent. Mr. Nixon's mistaken impression that Nazi scientists were forced into their research conveniently overlooks the cruelty and un

Ed Silverman
Jan 22, 1989

Alan Nixon's misguided essay supporting the use of scientific data taken from experiments conducted on tortured humans by the Nazis demands a vigorous rebuttal.

To my mind, Mr. Nixon's argument is spurious, offensive, and further underscores the need to emphasize the study of ethics in professional life, including the sciences.

Using the Nazi data would be abhorrent. Mr. Nixon's mistaken impression that Nazi scientists were forced into their research conveniently overlooks the cruelty and unrestrained verve with which those experiments were undertaken.

Mr. Nixon apparently believes that science for science's sake is a useful rationale if the end result helps society, or at least produces grist for the scientific community's mill. Such Machevellian thinking ignores what should be an important principle: Science must not be devoid of human compassion, particularly research devoted to bettering the human condition.

Similar logic justifying the "usefulness" of the Nazis motivated those in the U.S....

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?