The Ethics of Biosocial Science | Seminar with Pilar Ossorio (Audio Only) | Summary and Q&A

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December 16, 2016
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Harvard University
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The Ethics of Biosocial Science | Seminar with Pilar Ossorio (Audio Only)

TL;DR

The speaker discusses the institutionalization of race and the challenges of incorporating big data in biosocial science, highlighting the potential for reproduction of social inequalities.

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Key Insights

  • 👶 The new approach in biosocial science challenges the conventional understanding of the relationship between social inequality and biology.
  • 😒 The institutionalization of race in biomedical research leads to a routine use of racial and ethnic categories, potentially limiting the exploration of other social factors.
  • 😃 Incorporating big data in biosocial science raises concerns about reproducing social inequalities and the opaque nature of social information in comparison to molecular data.
  • 😒 Legal mandates for the collection and use of race and ethnicity data contribute to the reinforcement of racial categories in research.

Transcript

should we start a good afternoon this is the um seminar that accompanies the U panel lectures usually it happens often at the end of both lectures but we find that there is for very good reason an exodus at that point everybody wants to get back to their lives so we thought this time we would change it and have it in between there is of course a se... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How does the new approach in biosocial science differ from the old biosocial science?

The new approach in biosocial science reverses the cause and effect relationship between biology and social inequality by exploring how social inequality creates biological differences. This differs from the old biosocial science, which focused on explaining the relationship between social inequality and disparate biological outcomes.

Q: What are the reasons for caution in considering the new biosocial science?

There are two primary reasons for caution. Firstly, race concepts have been deeply ingrained in the biological sciences, leading to an unthinking use of racial classifications. Secondly, the institutionalization of race in biomedical research and the legal mandates for the collection and use of race and ethnicity data have reinforced the use of these categories, potentially limiting the exploration of other aspects of social inequality.

Q: How does the institutionalization of race affect the production of knowledge in bioscience?

The institutionalization of race in bioscience, reinforced by legal mandates, leads to the routine use of racial and ethnic categories in research. This can limit the exploration of other social factors that may influence biology. Additionally, the use of these categories in scientific literature and the pressure to report analyses using them further solidifies their use, potentially overshadowing other salient information.

Q: What challenges arise from incorporating big data in biosocial science?

Big data in biosocial science presents challenges in terms of data infested with social inequalities. Data from health records, credit scores, and other sources contain inherent biases and social inequalities that can impact the analysis and interpretation of results. Furthermore, the lack of similar big data technologies for gathering social information makes it more difficult to understand how social factors interact with biology.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker discusses the new approach in biosocial science that focuses on the relationship between social inequality and biological outcomes.

  • The institutionalization of race in biomedical research and the use of racial and ethnic categories as a routine practice are examined.

  • The challenges of incorporating big data in biosocial science and the potential for reproducing social inequalities are discussed.

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