People often respond to survey questions without any knowledge of the subject matter. A common example of this is the discussion on banning dihydrogen monoxide. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that there were 1423 deaths due to asbestos in 2005, but over 3443 deaths were attributed to dihydrogen monoxide in 2007. Articles and websites such as www.dhmo.org tell how this substance is widely used despite the dangers associated with it. Many people have joined the cause to ban this substance without realizing that dihydrogen monoxide is simply water (H2O). Their eagerness to protect the environment or their fear of seeming uninformed may be part of the problem. Put together a survey that asks individuals whether dihydrogen monoxide should or should not be banned. Give the survey to 20 randomly selected students around campus and report your results to the class. An example survey might look like the following:
Dihydrogen monoxide is colorless, odorless, and kills thousands of people every year. Most of these deaths are caused by accidental inhalation, but the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide do not stop there. Prolonged exposure to its solid form can severely damage skin tissue. Symptoms of ingestion can include excessive sweating and urination and possibly a bloated feeling, nausea, vomiting, and body electrolyte imbalance. Dihydrogen monoxide is a major component of acid rain and can cause corrosion after coming in contact with certain metals. Do you believe that the government should or should not ban the use of dihydrogen monoxide?
In October 2014, there was an Ebola breakout in West Africa. At the time, there was no vaccine for the virus, however, there were some experimental drugs that had not yet been approved for humans. Because the spread of the disease was reaching an epidemic, there were calls to initiate randomized trials of an experimental drug on human subjects right away.
(a) Discuss how you would go about designing a randomized trial to assess the efficacy of an experimental Ebola vaccine.
(b) Doctors Without Borders was on the record, prior to any randomized trial, as saying that trials in which subjects are assigned to a control group are unethical. Discuss the ethics behind a randomized trial of a potential life-saving vaccine to test its efficacy while an epidemic is raging?
Many newspaper articles discuss the dangers of teens texting while driving. Suppose you are a journalist and want to chime in on the discussion. However, you want your article to be more compelling, so you decide to conduct an experiment with one hundred 16- to 19-year-old volunteers. Design an experiment that will assess the dangers of texting while driving. Decide on the type of experiment (completely randomized, matched-pair, or other), a response variable, the explanatory variables, and any controls that will be imposed. Also, explain how you are going to obtain the data without potentially harming your subjects. Write an article that presents the experiment to your readers so that they know what to anticipate in your follow-up article. Remember, your article is for the general public, so be sure to clearly explain the various facets of your experiment?