America's broken promise to veterans who survived race-based chemical weapons testing in WWII

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The government? Breaking it’s promises? Doing a bad job at it’s job?

And people wonder why I am wary when they want to “help” with other things.

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Is tracking the physical characteristics of unwilling participants in unethical experiments indefensible?

No nation or people holds a monopoly on evil.

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Analysing the data to look for differential effects on differing skin types was entirely rational. If NBC suits only worked for white soldiers it would also be an outrage.

But the experiment itself is indefensible due to lack of full informed consent by the participants.


Given the amount of dermatological literature dealing with ethnic skin and hair, and absence of cries of racism over it (don’t tell the Perpetually Offended Ones, or the libraries will get purged of “Ethnic Dermatology - Clinical Problems and Pigmented Skin” and its ilk), it is unsurprising to expect different magnitude of effects from different chemical agents and structure the tests and their evaluation accordingly. Double so, given how much chemical warfare is about dermatotoxicology.

Then there’s the question of wartime. How responsible is to not do the tests and put entire armies at risk vs exposing a handful to make sure how the agents and the countermeasures actually work.

Not compensating the subjects afterwards of course sucks hard.

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Still needs informed consent though. In an ideal world the participants would have known what they were letting themselves in for and then have been honourably discharged with a service medal indicating they were wounded in action and given long term follow-up to look for effects on health once the study was over.


Everyone forgave Mengele for involuntary human medical experimentation since it was during wartime.


a) He was on the losing side.
b) AND his approach sucked and his results weren’t worth the hassle, otherwise he’d get paperclipped quite swiftly. Look at the Japanese biowarfare researchers.


Today I learned that involuntary human medical experimentation during warfare is acceptable, provided you win the war and get results.


You could’ve learned that from history books years and years ago.

Also, FTFY:


is != ought
Also, history books say that involuntary human medical experimentation during warfare is acceptable? You read some troubling history books.

I can’t believe anyone is defending this. If they segregated the soldiers by race, then they weren’t just giving everyone the same treatment and looking at whether the results differed by race, they were probably giving different doses (one would assume worse) to the non-white soldiers.

I should be over being shocked at how our government is willing to expose people to chemicals without warning. I was shocked to find out that American University sits on the primary testing ground from WWI for mustard and lewisite. They’re digging it up now and there is risk of contamination for people in the area. Some people in the wealthy neighborhood abutting the university have had to move, and some say they have been made ill because of the exposure over the years. They have found other toxic chemicals at very high levels, including in the soil of a daycare on campus. And most parents sending their kids to AU have no idea this is going on.

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Can I come and watch when you try and get informed consent from a sheep? :neutral_face:

Promise not to video and post to BB … :grin:

Are we talking about an animal, or about an Average Citizen?

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The cover photo of the article appears to show soldiers of different races walking into the same gas chamber.

Try again. There was more than a sheep involved. There was also infantry

late 16th century: from French infanterie, from Italian infanteria, from infante ‘youth, infantryman,’ from Latin infant- 

Soldiers, sheep, and babies don’t make decisions. Officers make decisions. Informed consent is not a military concept, and WWII was not a civil time.

I saw the video footage of the sky-hook thing, but thought the humans involved volunteered? Which left the sheep …

Officers get to make life and death decisions in battle — poor bloody infantry sign up for that. But if soldiers are ordered to take part in an experiment away from battle, they aren’t giving consent and experimenting without consent is plain unethical. Even if you’re doing it to squaddies.

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“It looks different and there are histology differences under the microscope too, it may behave differently” looks to me like a guess reasonable enough to base a testable hypothesis on.

How do you know that there’s not more to be known without trying? What about mixing it with lewisite to lower its melting point, and to assist penetration of protective clothing? There’s always more to look at. “Everything that we need to know we know already” was said so many times.

…also consider the possibilities of serendipitous discoveries. E.g. the use of nitrogen mustard in leukemia treatment.

Worth trying, I’d say; metals pack a punch, there’s a reason why aluminium is a component of solid rocket propellants whenever it is not specifically excluded by special requirements (e.g. no smoke trail that could impair visibility or be visible on radar, etc…). They tried boron slurries even for jet engines (where the resulting glass promptly fouled the turbines). They tried crazier things. The liquid fluorine-based fuels, om nom nom nom…!
I’d suggest “John D Clark - Ignition! - An informal history of liquid rocket propellants”, a 1972 book that may float somewhere online as a pdf. Good read, enjoyable both facts and prose.

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