Sunday, 30 April 2017

Informed Consent: Version Marvel Comics

Popular media has a way of making scientists look either really, really good (we solve crimes, catch murderers, save the world all in one day) or look really, really, really bad (we single-handedly destroy the world, annihilate the universe, create zombies, completely disregard all ethics). There is no middle ground.

If informed consent forms were written for any of the experiments in the Marvel, DC comics enterprise, I can only imagine they would look something like this (this was obviously written retrospectively, tongue-in-cheek, and very, very facetiously):

Principal Investigator: Name, Ph.D.
Sponsor: Stark Industries

You are invited to participate in this study because you are desperately in need of validation from people around you, and are tired of being pushed around by the bullies in your life. Some of you also have a few million dollars to spare. Many of you also believe you can save the world better than entire countries combined. This makes you the ideal participant for this study.

Your participation in this study is voluntary. You have the right to refuse to participate. If you decide to participate, you may still choose to withdraw from the study at any time without any negative consequences to the medical care, education, or other services to which you are entitled or are presently receiving. Sometimes, however, accidents and unforeseen circumstances happen. In which case, governments will hunt you down and you will become a fugitive and every bad person will want to harm you indefinitely.

This study will change the world. We will cure every imaginable disease, every imaginable time-travel conundrum, build the world's most formidable army, and also, we will solve world peace.

The main purpose is to be the first person to cure every imaginable disease, every imaginable time-travel conundrum, build the world's most formidable army, and solve world peace. Oh, we won't tell you, but really, also be the richest on the planet.

You may participate in this study if you have nothing to lose. You should be American, or residing in America, or related to Americans in some way, because 99.99% of threats are centred on the United States, New York, and the White House, and all superheroes are based in the United States (even if they previously were born elsewhere).

We can't think of anyone, really. For more details, see Who Can Participate.

With great power, comes great responsibility. You are the only one who can keep the world and the universe safe. Most threats to the world will be centred on the United States, New York, and the White House.

You should be aware this study has not been tested to any real standards. We have a hypothesis that defies all real scientific reality, but we can do anything we want. Therefore, there is a possibility you might turn green when your heart rate increases, and/ or grow a tail, and / or have sudden abilities such as scaling walls, moving very quickly, shooting laser beams, and other unpredictable mutant powers. You will also find that if you develop these powers, there will inevitably follow an enemy that you didn't know existed until you developed your powers (but correlation doesn't equal causation). Governments may or may not have a sudden interest in your movement. You may or may not become a fugitive. You may or may not suddenly find an improvement in your physique: if you see a deterioration, they include turning green or blue, growing bigger, boulders and / or rocks attaching to you, elongation of limbs, hirsutism (growing hair in places you don't normally have hair), growing a tail and /or talons. This list is not exhaustive You may or may not also have a sudden need to wear a ridiculously tight costume, and be known by a very cheesy name. All costs associated with destruction of city landscape will be borne by someone other than you. You should be aware we really have no idea what we are doing.

You may or may not suddenly find an improvement in your physique. If you do, they most likely include improvements in musculature, build, senses, and having perfect makeup in all conditions and terrain (snow, rain, sleet, mudslide, earthquake, thunder, explosions, after waking up, post-crying, in outer space, zombie apocalypse, after fighting, etc.). You may or may not also develop a sudden ability to wield various weapons, and be suddenly extraordinarily skilled in various forms of martial arts. You may or may not also find that you will suddenly develop a love interest.

We really just need you to trust that everything can and will go wrong, but sign up for this study anyway, because you will become a hero. And heroes always win in the end. They will suffer throughout, but they will win in the end.

You will become a hero.

We have no idea what we are doing, so you can withdraw consent, but if you already grew a tail, sorry. Whoops!

That's why you have a mask! Wear it! Sometimes, just wearing glasses will suffice. We assure you people aren't very bright and do not recognize voices, even those in your family and office. We don't guarantee confidentiality from governments, however. They are extremely smart, and can figure out who you are.