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« "More on Lead and Crime, but Really on How to Make Decisions" | Main | This could explain a lot, part 2 »

February 07, 2013

"IRBs Gone Wild"

I had one--thankfully, just one--experience similar to Peter Klein's.

So, even social-science researchers must receive IRB training and have individual research projects — yes, every research project that involves “human subjects,” which includes research using secondary data — approved by the campus IRB.

The data I used had already been gathered and was completely anonymous. There was a probability lower than the sun will go supernova tomorrow that anything I did with the data would harm, or even offend, the subjects. But I had to jump through IRB hoops. It's as if stupid people are running our government and universities. 


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What does he mean "as if"?????

Some years ago I had to fill out and revise and resubmit a 27 page IRB form just to use a simple, anonymous survey on two freshmen classes.

After getting a second "revise and resubmit" I just dropped it as not having enough time.


They may be stupid, but they sure are grasping, obnoxious, insufferable, ...


I agree with the "as if" comment above.

A doctor told me recently that they currently use data to determine the growth rate of adolescents from x-rays taken on children more than 100 years ago. I asked why nobody has ever updated the study to provide more accurate information. He told me that it would never get by an IRB today. To be fair, he also noted that it would likely be prohibitively costly to conduct today, but his first reaction was the IRB comment.


I had to go through this garbage a couple of years ago because a doctoral student was doing a dissertation that involved data collected by somebody else on Mexican government finance. In order to direct his dissertation, it was required that I do an on-line course and pass an on-line test on treatment of human subjects. Course covered rules on taking blood samples, exposing children to toxins, etc., all things seldom done by public finance economists and certainly not by me. After going half way through, I decided to take the test. I got some questions right, some questions wrong exclusively by guessing and failed. But I wrote the right answers down. I immediately took the test again -- same questions -- so I did really well and passed with flying colors. I was certified!! This kind of stuff represents the worst variety of bureaucracy -- the lazy public official.

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