Most people are familiar with the controversy over citing Nazi medical experimentation and related unethical findings. I'm not questioning that.
Assuming that citing unethical research in order to bolster or support one's own findings is, in fact, unethical, does the situation change if the prior unethical findings may contradict, falsify, or otherwise be potentially detrimental to one's own findings?
For example, many feel that publishing this is unethical:
In this paper, we demonstrate that splines are reticulatable in six-space under the Transhalpine Coordinate System. Evil Nazi Supervillain (1941) demonstrated that a spline can exist in six-space. Assuming this to be true, our model demonstrates how such as spline can be reticulated with respect to the Transhalpine system, to wit....
Assuming that would be, in fact, unethical, would this be any different:
In this paper, we demonstrate that splines are reticulatable in six-space under the Transhalpine Coordinate System. Goody-Two-Shoes, Angel, Seraphim, Hero, Superhero, and Person-Who-Was-Mostly-Good-Except-That-He-Jaywalked-Once-When-He-Was-Eight-And-Was-Continuously-And-Justly-Punished-Throughout-His-Lifetime-For-Said-Act (1932) demonstrated that a spline can exist in six-space. Evil Nazi Supervillain (1941) obtained a contrary result in which splines cannot exist in six-space, but we only mention this because ethical requirements require that we disclose to you that we are are aware of a prior result that may affect our findings. The result was gained by attempting coordinate transformations on splines that had not granted informed consent for geometric experimentation. In this case the researcher was, like, a super bad guy and you, like, totally should ignore his findings because he was even more evil than Dr. Doom and his paper is probably full of shoddy praxis, negligent notetaking, and even outright fabrications.
Assuming that a spline can actually exist in six-space, our model demonstrates how such as spline can be reticulated with respect to the Transhalpine system, to wit....
Generally speaking, is it more ethical to cite or not cite the potentially problematic prior result?
I suppose the gist of this question is which ethical duty is paramount:
- The duty to honestly account for the current state of research and disclose potential findings that may affect the current paper.
- The duty to not acknowledge or use unethical research.
Could this one of the "unusual circumstances" mentioned in this answer?
I suppose that the Don't Cite Unethical Research rule could be clarified as actually meaning that it is unethical to benefit from prior unethical results, so a citation that does not benefit the later researcher (but in fact serves more as a disclaimer) would be allowed. Would that be more along the lines of how this would actually be handled?