Livin’ on a Prayer

Ok, so after looking at a number of ethical issues, this article stood out to me:

This miracle study came out in October of 2001, right after the attacks of September 11th.  This study found that the success rate for in vitro fertilization increased by 100% because of prayers from people in prayer groups.  This could have been a good time in our nation’s history to have some extra hope.  But if it seemed to good to be true, it was!


What I find to be so outrageous is that this study was conducted by researchers at Columbia University.  This is no small school that people haven’t heard of.  The researchers claimed that this was a randomized controlled trial in which all of the women in the study were unaware that people were praying for them in various places of the world.  Following the link above, you can see how complicated this study was arranged, with prayers about prayers for the women being studied.  An investigation of the study found that there was no Internal Review Board (IRB) approval for the research and no informed consent was even given to the participants.  The authors of this study either refuse to comment or claim no affiliation with Columbia University in the third author’s case.  And that third author has since been indicted for fraud separate from this study.  I don’t even understand all of the convoluted details of this study, so if you want to know more, the link above is the place to go.

I find myself wondering why researchers would even attempt to fabricate these findings and how they would think that nobody would look deeper into it.  A study with this amazing of findings would seem to me to draw a lot of attention.  I recognize that there is pressure to “publish or perish” in higher education, but what is it that leads people to so blatantly create false data?  I can see how some researchers would want to edit a couple of numbers here and there to make their research look better.  Who would ever find out?  I couldn’t live with myself for doing that, but I can understand how some may have motives for such actions.  But this prayer study that is so clearly fabricated probably wouldn’t go unnoticed!


It seems like many of the studies we have been discussing in class are related to human subjects.  People can be hurt with these false results!  Part of me wants to take more of an active role in monitoring research in my field for unethical kinds of research.  What is it that journals can do to reduce these instances of fake research?  How is it that we as students, and someday faculty, can help improve ethics in research?  We spoke in class about how high the percentage is of high school and college students that cheat.  It would appear that cheating doesn’t stop completely at the researcher level.  One would imagine that we are held to a higher standard at that point, but somehow these unethical research projects keep popping up.  If anyone has answers as to how to reduce these infractions, I am open to hearing it.  I think we have to keep an open dialog about this because ignoring the problem won’t make it go away!

Culture and Codes of Ethics

After discussing the various code of ethics that we each encounter in our class last night, I found myself wondering how unique counselor education is from other fields.  Based on our discussion, I can see that our our code of ethics is very comprehensive compared to fields that don’t involve human subjects.  The question was posed in class about how ethics changes over time and from one place to another.  We frequently discuss this in counseling classes that so much of this is based on cultural differences.  Each of us sees the world from a unique cultural perspective, so ethics are relative to every culture and different from one field to another.  Within the counseling field, a major focus point of practice, research, and ethics is in multicultural competence.  One of my research interests is multicultural counseling, so I found myself wondering how being culturally aware may apply to other fields.  The American Counseling Association Code of Ethics references culture more times than I could count.  But other professions probably do not require such a specific focus on culture.  It seems like engineers for example do not need to be as culturally sensitive as counselors are.


However, as I looked around the classroom, I couldn’t help but notice all of the diversity in the room.  In this course we have people from different countries, ethnicities, religions, genders, sexual orientations, ages, etc.  These are all aspects of people’s culture that we speak about regularly as counselors but probably not as much in other disciplines.   If we are moving into professor positions, we can all (across each and every discipline) improve our education by being aware of how to communicate to those from different cultural backgrounds.  The communicating science class from last week is a great example of how we encounter moments when we communicate with different fields and people of all sorts of backgrounds.  Cultural competence may be an ethical code that requires more attention in counseling than in other fields, but it can still be a vital part of instruction.  Insulting cultural aspects of any of our students is not the best way to reach out to them.  However, being aware of how to teach in a manner that is culturally aware will not only the best practice for teaching, but it also gives us better opportunities to communicate between fields.  It does not happen all the time, but this class is an excellent example of how people from many varying disciplines and numerous cultural backgrounds come together for a single purpose.  It provides a great learning experience and a chance for us to see the world from others’ perspectives.  Hopefully we can all take that opportunity to improve how we communicate and teach those entering our respective fields.

What to say

So I was reading some blogs from my classmates who have come up with some very insightful, metaphorical posts that get me thinking about how I fit into this world of higher education.  I would provide a link to those, but I’m still new to this blogging thing.  As I was reading those posts, I found myself wondering what I could possibly write that anyone would want to read.  For that matter, what can I talk about as a professor that people will want to listen to?  I have worked with a number of clients as a counselor and helped them recognize their goals.  I have also been able to teach classes before, and help students learn and move towards their academic goals.  So that must mean that I have enough to say to make a difference.  I am not sure how many people will even read this post, but I would imagine many of you have felt this same way before.  So many of us going into higher education want to make a difference in people’s lives.  If we remain silently in the background, those positive changes that we seek may never occur.  So I am going to say something in this blog that may or may not make any difference to the world, but it is a start.  The bystander effect takes place when a number of people witness an event and all are thinking, “Someone should do something about that.”  The issue occurs when everyone in the group thinks that way and so nobody actually acts on those thoughts.  I encourage each of you to recognize the value in what you have to pass along to the world through being in higher education.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that everything we have to say is perfect for the time or place, but choosing our words and actions wisely can lead to the positive changes that so many of us are seeking by pursuing graduate education.  Thanks for reading!

Mission Statements

Two mission statements I chose to use for this assignment were from two colleges that I attended prior to coming to Virginia Tech.  The first is from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, where I completed my master’s degree.  This university does offer doctorate level degrees as well.  The second mission statement is from the community college where I started my higher education experience.  It is from Helena College University of Montana, located in Helena, MT.

University of Hawaii at Hilo:


ʻAʻohe pau ka ʻike i ka hālau hoʻokahi.
One learns from many sources.

The purpose of our university ʻohana (family) is to challenge students to reach their highest level of academic achievement by inspiring learning, discovery and creativity inside and outside the classroom. Our kuleana(responsibility) is to improve the quality of life of the people of Hawaiʻi, the Pacific region and the world.


What I appreciate about this mission statement is that it includes aspects of the Hawaiian language and culture.  Feeling that responsibility to take care of the land and each other is such a big part of Hawaiian culture.  I like the acknowledgement that learning takes place in many different forms, not just the classroom, and I greatly appreciate the emphasis on improving quality of life around the world.  This speaks highly to me as a counselor, so I am very happy to have earned my degree there.  The only other aspect that I would have expected from this mission statement was some sort of comment about diversity.  At the time that I was there, it was rated as the most diverse student population of any 4 year public institution in the country.


In contrast, Helena College:

Mission Statement

Helena College University of Montana, a comprehensive two-year college, provides access to and support of lifelong educational opportunities to our diverse community.


This mission statement is much shorter and to the point, which makes sense to me being a community college.  What stood out to me was the emphasis on “diverse community.”  With the University of Hawaii demonstrating such a diverse student population, I find it interesting that the community college I started at actually is the one mentioning diversity because Helena, Montana does not have nearly the diverse population as Hilo, Hawaii.  I appreciate the “lifelong educational opportunities” because being a community college, there tend to be more diverse ages of the students.  These were aspects that stood out to me when looking at various colleges and universities mission statements to do this assignment.