About Suffocated Science

Campaign Headquarters

This blog is headquarters for a campaign to abolish research ethics review.

Ethics review is a system that requires researchers to obtain permission from a specific board before beginning research that involves people, including medical or psychological research; it also includes other fields including, in some universities, journalism and the humanities. I exclude research by pharmaceutical companies, which raises different questions.

This system was begun with good intentions and is staffed by well-meaning people. However, it is structurally flawed and cannot be reformed. It must be replaced.

This blog welcomes all who want to learn more about this destructive system. It provides news and information about the people and policies involved in the struggle over ethics review and serves as a clearinghouse of ideas for students, scholars, and all others who want to help science and scholarship better serve the public welfare.

Is this radical?

Governmental power should be used in ways that produce benefits that justify their costs. If that idea is radical, then this blog is radical.

Campaign Leadership

This campaign is informal.

Its leaders have no steering committee and no articles of incorporation. We have no institutional support, and certainly no funding. We come from different countries and have varied backgrounds; we have signed no manifesto, sworn to no orthodoxy, and we disagree with each other on a variety of points.

But we all agree that the ethics review system has failed and that the public needs to be informed of its failure.


  • To explain how ethics review came into being, how it went wrong, why it should be abolished, and what should replace it.
  • To recruit scholars and scientists to add their experience to our storehouse of knowledge.
  • To educate the public about a well-intentioned but failed system of regulating research.
  • To show that research subjects should be protected far more simply than by the current system of review.
  • To eliminate ethics review and replace it with that simpler system.

Simon N. Whitney, MD, JD


  1. Excellent contribution! The books and blog provide a comprehensive resource.

  2. Will C. van den Hoonaard says:

    In the social sciences (and humanities) universities typically carry courses that critique the status quo. In sociology, for example, numerous courses discuss and critique social stratification, poverty, the extremes of wealth, the failures of institutions, etc. What are the chances of mounting a course that makes scholarly critiques ethics committees?

    • That would be a fascinating course–to have a social scientist teach how to critique a powerful institution. Students could apply for IRB approval to do their own research and experience powerlessness directly!

      Carl Schneider, of the University of Michigan Law School, sometimes teaches a seminar in the regulation of research. I have seen how much the students learn from Schneider’s devastating analysis of the system.

      It’s an engaging topic, in part because of the mixture of foolishness (on the part of the regulators) and significance (faulty regulation harms us all).

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