A Duty to Save
If knowledge is gained through unethical means, is it ethical to use that research?
"Keys did this study because nothing like it had been done before, and because of ethical restrictions after WWII, nothing like it has been done after, and probably never will be done."
- Todd Tucker, Personal Interview, 2018
Because of current ethical standards, the MNSE is irreproducible, and still used as the primary resource regarding starvation today. After further analysis of the physical and psychological implications, scientists came to the conclusion that the experiment more closely replicated eating disorders than famine, leading to a key discovery: before the psychological effects of eating disorders can be treated, a person must recover from starvation.
Adapted Image from "Life in the Fast Lane"
"Trying to make meaningful psychological changes with an anorexic patient in this starved state is analogous to trying to address underlying issues with an alcoholic patient who is intoxicated."
Personal Interview with Dr. Scott Crow, Eating Disorder Specialist, University of Minnesota, 2017.
Starvation Experiment Participant in Starvation and Recovery, Time/Life Images, 1945.
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In eating disorder counseling, a recount of symptoms experienced by the participants of the MNSE can help give justification for many symptoms of starvation experienced.
"The study is invaluable for those treating anorexics because it helps separate the symptoms that are a result of anorexia from those that are just by-products of hunger. The hunger must be treated first."
Through the Participants' Eyes
Max Kampleman Samuel Legg
"When the medical profession uses unethical experiments, or when a court of law uses tainted evidence, legitimacy is indirectly conferred upon the manner by which the data/evidence was acquired. The policy guidelines deploring the means used in acquiring the tainted evidence would be undercut by the mere fact of its use."
"It is impossible to 'give back' or 'take away' knowledge... we have an obligation to those who had their human rights violated by unethical experimentation to do the most good possible with the results of the experimentation."
"It is the greatest good to the greatest number of people that is the measure of right and wrong."
"There are many examples of unethical experiments that would be very useful for science, medicine, and even the world - but when that means violating human rights, exploiting people, or disrespecting individuals that is still wrong, even if the results would still be good."
"Why do people who were drafted go to fight wars, without escaping? Because there's a duty. It's the same kind of a thing, just a different battlefield. And from our point of view at the time, it was a battlefield consistent with what our conscience would tell us. But it was a battlefield. And battlefields are not supposed to be easy."
- Max Kampleman, Minnesota Starvation Experiment participant, 1993