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Sat

03

Mar

2007

Is abetting torture a requirement to be an "expert" on "psychological ethics"?
Saturday, 03 March 2007 02:28
by Stephen Soldz

Gerald Koocher, former President of the American Psychological Association and ardent  supporter of psychologist participation in Guantanamo interrogations, is now involved in developing a Code of Ethics for Researchers! [A "Hippocratic Oath" for Scientists?]
Science, and especially biomedical science, also needs explicit and widely accepted public statements of appropriate behavior, argue researchers engaged in projects to create such documents. Gerald Koocher of Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts, and his colleagues are developing an ethics manual for researchers; Koocher sees the document as potentially improving research integrity....

Koocher and his colleagues also want a large number of scientists to give explicit thought to ethical problems. His project has invited people listed on NIH's Computer Retrieval of Information on Scientific Projects database of funded investigators to take an online survey about their experiences dealing with ethical problems during their careers. If they wish, respondents can also give detailed, anonymous telephone interviews to "describe the incident and ... tell us whether they did anything about it, why, and what happened," Koocher says in a phone interview. Data analysis, which he expects by summer, will indicate "the scope [and] nature of the problem." The team will then "take the data ... and create a manual ... that includes ... anecdotes and strategies that worked for people" and also present "our recommendations for dealing with" the various issues that arise, Koocher says.

Many will remember Koocher, of course, as the man who has viciously attacked those who raised ethical concerns about the role of psychologists in interrogations: 

A number of opportunistic commentators masquerading as scholars have continued to report on alleged abuses by mental health professionals.

Koocher was also one of those involved in appointing the Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS) to form APA policy on participation in interrogations, with six of nine voting members from the military and intelligence communities, many with direct ties to Guantanamo interrogations. That is, in the most "ethical" manner, Koocher was among those appointed people who had been accused of committing torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment to be in charge of forming APA policy regarding participation in these abuses!

In his great respect for "ethics," Koocher was one of those who did everything in their power to keep this membership secret, and to keep the deliberations of the Task Force itself secret.

Koocher was also the one who invited "Urine Man" General Kiley to be the only speaker to address the 2006 APA Convention on this critical issue., though, under pressure, he later backed down.

To get a sense of Koocher's complete lack of understanding of "ethics", read Art Levine's Washington Monthly article Collective Unconscionable: How psychologists, the most liberal of professionals, abetted Bush's torture policy.

Evidently abetting torture is just the qualification needed to be a "so-called expert"  on "ethics". Koocher is, after all, the Editor of the journal Ethics & Behavior and of the text Ethics in Psychology.

Ethics in psychology is in a sad state indeed!

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