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Abstract: Let's Get Serious about Ethics or Stop Pretending


DPA President Peter Rose has noted that "one of the most frequent and trenchant comments received from [DPA's 1995] opinion survey concerned the strict and swift enforcement of the: Code of Ethics." If we, as individual members and as the AAPG, wish to be taken seriously on ethical matters, we must either get serious about enforcing the Ethics Code or drop it.

To get serious, several simultaneous things must occur: (1) publish discussions of what constitutes ethical violations. As examples, several case histories will illustrate the difficulties, successes, and failures in ethical cases. (2) individual members must be willing to: recognize ethical violations by colleagues, report these violations in writing, and be willing to face the adverse consequences of taking an ethical stand, consequences which may be significant. (3) AAPG must demonstrate willingness to discipline violators by: (a) accepting the risk of being sued by violators; (b) devoting resources to investigations; they aren't cheap; and (c) publishing annual generic summaries of complaints received and actions taken.

These are not necessarily easy steps. Conducting thorough investigations can be very difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. The legal liability resulting from poorly supported accusations can be significant. The potential for social ostracism and job loss for those reporting violations should not be ignored. Nevertheless, failure to take these steps will result in the continued perception by many that AAPG's Code of Ethics is a sham because it is not enforced.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90946©1997 AAPG Rocky Mountain Section Meeting, Denver, Colorado