Damn, I want these guys’* institutional review board. I often find myself wistfully telling my students about all the great social experiments I could do if it weren’t for that pesky IRB. Evidently, I just need the right one, and I’ll be on my way to commandeering organizations, crashing stock markets and assassinating world leaders – just to see what happens. I’m sure if you can justify spreading human waste around in somebody’s neighborhood to see if it helps with lead poisoning, I could get away with some spectacular stuff.
Reviewer #1: “I don’t know about this one. He wants to put a whole bunch of kids onto a deserted island and see if they’ll replicate the social structures in Lord of the Flies? Isn’t that rather hazardous to the children?”
Reviewer #2: “But he has a very sizable grant from the Department of Education. Just think of the educational benefits of… um… er… better understanding group formation and norm development among children! Yeah, that!”
Reviewer #1: “Well, okay. But only if he makes sure there’s plenty of food and water on the island.”
Then again, maybe I should just go into reality TV**. They get paid to do crazy unethical things to other human beings – both participants and viewers.
Given the option of being totally immoral, what experiments would really advance your research agenda? Confiscating property? Testing the social constructability of race by making new ones?
That’s right, dear reader: I know you’re there. I see you in my blog stats. Say something.
**For the record, I freaking love Milgram.