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Ethical guides are already in place

March 05, 2007

Re "Ruling may constrain researchers," Feb. 27

This article misses the point. Thankfully, researchers are already constrained by ethical guidelines, institutional review boards and the scientific method. The California Supreme Court sensibly ruled that the constraints of the law also apply to zealous researchers who may be eager to prove their theories with unethical or unlawful means.

Elizabeth Loftus is accused of misrepresenting herself to gain confidential information from the family member of a research subject. No institutional review board would approve such a method. No peer-reviewed scientific journal would publish an article whose data are derived from such a method. Now the Supreme Court of California adds that such a method is not lawful. It is a victory for those who value ethics in the pursuit of scientific knowledge. We are pleased that our viewpoint on this case, as expressed in our amicus curae to the Supreme Court, has been upheld.

JOYANNA SILBERG

Executive vice president

Leadership Council on

Child Abuse &

Interpersonal Violence

Baltimore

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