“Understanding” Your Place

It’s true that the human population is full of unique individuals, for we are not a species that are meant to be carbon copies of each other. Despite our status as one species (or more like the remaining one after evolution) for hundreds of thousands of years, a deeply rooted xenophobia still exists in today’s modern world. Lately, the term “species” still un/conconsciously equates to “race” despite all the scientific evidence that says otherwise. Not everyone may have grown up in the same conditions as everyone else but that doesn’t mean we can’t be aware of these differences as a society and handle them in a respectable and appropriate manner. Continue reading ““Understanding” Your Place”

IRBs: Hindering the Progress Of Research?

In class last week, we had a group discussion on Institutional Review Boards, which is described by the FDA as “an appropriately constituted group that has been formally designated to review and monitor biomedical research involving human subjects”. Additionally, IRB’s approve research, protect human rights during research, and also disapprove certain research if need be.

We also talked about how IRBs fail to protect human rights on occasions more frequent than we would hope. There are several examples of this from the texts we’ve read throughout the course of this semester thus far. One example in specific that comes to mind is from a recent reading in Medical Apartheid. In chapter 11, when it talks about 126+ African American boys between the ages of 6 and 10 were tested with a drug fenfluramine to determine if violent behavior in these children could be biological. Later in the chapter, the book states that “children cannot give informed consent, because they cannot understand the medical procedures, or weigh the risks and benefits of participating in medical research”. With this in mind, researches will turn to parental control, but this can also lead to problems for the child. This is one clear problem from the text that came to mind in class last week when having this discussion on IRBs. Clearly, something needs to change to keep experiments such as this one from occurring.

I found an article called “Ten Ways to Improve IRBs” that suggests one good example that can spark a change in those IRBs that fail to protect the human rights of it’s participants. The article states that it is necessary to clarify the powers of IRBs. It says that many institutions do not do this, which can result in IRBs becoming informal, educational bodies that make suggestions and modify consent. I’m not saying that all IRBs need improving, but there are most certainly necessary improvements needed within some.This example from the article would be a good place to start, and it would prevent the modification of consent, such as the study that I mentioned from Medical Apartheid.


A few classes ago, the topic of pheromones were first brought to my attention. However, just yesterday, my friend brought them up yet again when discussing topics in her human sexual behavior course- ultimately spiking my interest yet again. As I embedded myself into the internet to find out more about pheromones, I landed on the Smithsonian’s webpage, which defines pheromones as “airborne molecules that elicit a reaction in a member of the same species.” Continue reading “Pheromones”

To Be Or Not To Be: The Turbulent Relationship One Has With Growing Up Possessing A Skull

In my last blog post, I began to discuss Fortunes Bones and the ethical issues I have personally struggled with as someone whose father possess a skull from his time in dental school. I feel that there is a need to clarify that although I may have made it seem like there was normalcy to growing up with a skull in my house, that this has not in fact been the case. Having a skull in our home has led me to deal with many of the ethical dilemmas we have discussed in class regarding consent when using another’s body for medical education. There have been times in the past where I was comfortable with our possession of the skull and believed that it afforded myself and others a great opportunity to learn from. There have also been times, however, where I was seriously uncomfortable with our possession of the skull; not only can it be unsettling to live with what was once another person’s head, but also it can be bothersome to live so intimately with it when you don’t know its full story.

Continue reading “To Be Or Not To Be: The Turbulent Relationship One Has With Growing Up Possessing A Skull”

The definition of consent and what we mean by consent tends to be manipulated or misinterpreted. According to dictionary.com, consent is “to permit, approve, or agree; comply or yield.” Unfortunately what some may fail to understand is that you have the right to say no after having said yes or given consent. In Clay’s Ark by Butler, the idea of consent is often abandoned and manipulated by the disease. An example of this is with the sexual interactions between Eli and Meda. Continue reading “”

Is There A Bigger Question To Be Asked?


When I was reading Medical Apartheid, an unfortunate truth was revealed to me in Chapter 11. Although I was aware that many African American children were taken advantage of in a multitude of medical experimentations, it didn’t make it any easier to accept the fact that infants were involved as well. Many were subjected to spinal taps that would affect the development of their adult bodies for the rest of their lives. I love children so reading this chapter was tough for me to know that those kids didn’t even have a chance to live a normal life simply due to the fact that they were born at the wrong place and time. Continue reading “Is There A Bigger Question To Be Asked?”

Sometimes This, Sometimes That

Two classes back or so, we discussed what bothered us about Dawn. What bothered me about Dawn was Nikanj.

I initially liked Nikanj. I felt that, out of the other Oankali, Nikanj respected Lilith as a human being the most. When speaking of altering Lilith’s brain chemistry to help her speak the Onankali language, Nikanj states that it thinks “surprising people” is wrong because it’s like, “Treating (people) as though they aren’t people, as though they aren’t intelligent” (79). Nikanj was ordered by Kahguyaht to “surprise” Lilith—to change her brain chemistry without her consent. The fact that Nikanj realizes this is wrong and decides to tell Lilith made me very happy. I feel that Nikanj, by deciding to tell Lilith, displays a level of respect for her as an individual and treats her as another being as opposed to a research subject. Another instance of this is the conversation about Lilith’s injuries from Paul Tidus: Nikanj questions whether Lilith “need(ed)” to be told information concerning her, and promises to remember that she does need and want to be told (100). Nikanj, through words and gestures, shows that it believes Lilith’s opinion, her consent, is important. I loved that.

Then, of course, the ending ruined everything.

Continue reading “Sometimes This, Sometimes That”

In Regards to Kin and Reality (and before I change my mind about posting)

Before I go on a tirade about somewhat old class notes, I just want to say that it is exactly what this post is going to be. I’m typically mute in class as I pay attention to every nearby voice and jot down my thoughts onto a sheet of paper. I’m often aggravated of hearing the same kind of format about consent, identity, and racial tension with nearly each and every bit of literature of article that we’re presented.

With that said, I suppose I’m glad to be aggravated, for how one class – the 16th of October actually – gave way to the ideas of propaganda, disillusion, and dullness. The latter is likely the reiteration of how I sometimes feel when succumbing to my timid self in class. The first two on the other hand, relate back to what my title says, and I believe this can be a tangible issue that plague everyone who happens to possess any kind of quote on quote, family. I’m just talking about disagreements or teenage angst here, but unfortunate circumstances like political violence and social disorder, along exposure to foreign elements (such as the type of exposure we see in Clay’s Ark). I written down “varying degrees of fairness” when hearing the contrast between labeled fairness and actual fairness. A few mentions of real life give way to “The Chicago Machine” and Mayor Harold Washington essentially going against “Black Chicago.” Upon hearing the terms “too fair” personally upset me, but that’s my own bias behind what I wish in regards to equality. This may relate back to a more recent discussion regarding identity and interdependence, but I suppose that is for another post in itself. Apparently the phrase upset me enough to write down “either side wants to blow themselves” and I found the description hypocritical. I believe the term came during a hearing of This American Life podcast, if I remember correctly. Another term I wrote was “violent politeness” – something I likely heard from the same podcast. I was also trying to find a middle ground in order to pave some connection between all that I’ve taken in, along with the body of work via Octavia Butler. I think I’m still confused by it, but I suppose it’s meant to be familiarized with the system we live by, whether we like it or not. The same instance can be said for somebody whose city has been touched by bombs, or by a significant lack of clean water. Maybe I’m assuming Butler is presenting not only a discussion that ponders the extent of consent, but also the environment. Going more into a more recent class (the 23rd of October) via aliens desiring to affect the human race for seemingly good intentions –  despite the lack of trust, consent, and full awareness of the environment.

Does that sound a bit familiar?

I’m also bound to sound incredibly confusing at this point, but I’m starting to think that Butler’s output on the world when paralleled with her writing is safely silhouetted with sci-fi elements, all the while including a conspicuous message towards the human race.

This may or may not be continued in another overly broad post. (Sigh)

Otherworldly Passengers in Stranger Things and Clay’s Ark

The Duffer Brothers, the creative duo behind the hit Netflix Series, Stranger Things, have spoken openly about their major influences, the many movies of the 1980s, namely Stephen Spielberg and John Carpenter titles, as well as Stephen King’s fiction. These influences come through clearly with the synth-heavy soundtrack reminding viewers of Carpenter’s horror, the dialogue and spectacle of Spielberg films such as E.T. and the small-town vibe and characters reminiscent of King’s It. The second season of Stranger Things expands the sci-fi mythos, and apparently draws from even more influences of the genre. In particular, there is a character who is inhabited by an organism from another world, which alters his compulsions, much like in Octavia Butler’s 1984 work Clay’s Ark. Continue reading “Otherworldly Passengers in Stranger Things and Clay’s Ark”