Blinding Science—Cambridge, MA

The Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University presents Blinding Science, a multidisciplinary symposium to examine potential solutions to institutional corruption that use blinding: the strategy of concealing biasing information from decision makers, Nov. 1, 2013.

Now a diverse group of scholars is exploring whether blinding can be used more broadly as a solution to institutional corruption. When is it feasible to use a blind selection, rather than hand-picking someone who will be biased? When can a funding dependency be allowed, while a decision maker nonetheless remains unbiased? These inquiries challenge industry-funded biomedical scientists to consider more robust blinding procedures, but they also raise questions about the ethics and justice of blinding, as well as questions about the incentives to use blinding within established institutions.

A raft of recent research has also revealed pervasive bias in forensic science, and there are opportunities for blinding in this domain as well, to make civil and criminal litigation more reliable. More fundamentally, these sorts of questions — about who needs to know what — open new doors of inquiry for the design of courts, laws, and institutions.