Skip to comments.Citizen MD [American Medical Association op-ed against Intelligent Design]
Posted on 12/03/2005 6:18:54 AM PST by Right Wing Professor
Im afraid we live in loopy times. How else to account for the latest entries in Americas culture wars: science museum docents donning combat gloves against rival fundamentalist tour groups and evolution on trial in a Pennsylvania federal court. For those keeping score, so far this year its Monkeys: 0, Monkey Business: 82. That's 82 evolution versus creationism debates in school boards or towns nationwidethis year alone. 
This past summer, when most Americans were distracted by thoughts of beaches and vacations or the high price of gasoline (even before the twin hits of Katrina and Rita), 2 heavy-weight political figures joined the President of the United States to weigh in on a supposedly scientific issue. US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Arizona Senator John McCain, and President George W. Bush each endorsed the teaching of intelligent design alongside evolution in the science classroom. Can anyone reasonably convince me that these pronouncements were not just cynical political punditry but, rather, were expressions of sincere beliefs?
So you have to ask yourself in light of all of these events, are we headed back to the past with no escape in the future? Are we trapped in a new period of history when science, once again, is in for the fight of its life?
In times like these, as inundated as we are by technical wizardry, one might conclude that American technological supremacy and know-how would lead, inevitably, to a deeper understanding or trust of science. Well, it doesnt. Perhaps just the opposite is true. Technology and gee whiz gadgetry has led to more suspicion rather than less. And a typical Americans understanding of science is limited at best. As far as evolution is concerned, if youre a believer in facts, scientific methods, and empirical data, the picture is even more depressing. A recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Science found that 64 percent of respondents support teaching creationism side by side with evolution in the science curriculum of public schools. A near majority48 percentdo not believe that Darwins theory of evolution is proven by fossil discoveries. Thirty-three percent believe that a general agreement does not exist among scientists that humans evolved over time .
What if we become a nation that cant chew gum, walk down the street, and transplant embryonic stem cells all at the same time? Does it matter?
New York Times journalist Cornelia Dean, who balances her time between science reporting for the Times and lecturing at Harvard, told me that she believes that science stands in a perilous position. Science, as an institution, has largely ceded the microphone to people who do not necessarily always embrace the scientific method, she says. Unless scientists participate in the public life of our country, our discourse on a number of issues of great importance becomes debased .
Others, such as journalist Chris Mooney, point to the increasing politicization of science as a pollutant seeping into our nations psyche. In his recent book, The Republican War on Science, Mooney spells out the danger of ignorance in public life when ideology trumps science.
Science politicization threatens not just our public health and the environment but the very integrity of American democracy, which relies heavily on scientific and technical expertise to function. At a time when more political choices than ever before hinge upon the scientific and technical competence of our elected leaders, the disregard for consensus and expertiseand the substitution of ideological allegiance for careful assessmentcan have disastrous consequences .
Jon D. Miller, PhD, a political scientist on faculty at Northwestern Universitys School of Medicine, believes that the sophisticated questions of biology that will confront each and every American in the 21st Century will require that they know the difference between a cell and a cell phone and are able to differentiate DNA from MTV. For decades, Miller has been surveying Americans about their scientific knowledge. We are now entering a period where our ability to unravel previously understood or not understood questions is going to grow extraordinarily, says Miller. As long as you are looking at the physics of nuclear power plants or the physics of transistors [all 20th Century questions] it doesnt affect your short-term belief systems. You can still turn on a radio and say it sounds good but you dont have to know why it works. As we get into genetic medicine, infectious diseases if you dont understand immunity, genetics, the principles of DNA, youre going to have a hard time making sense of these things .
These ideological battles arent likely to vanish any time soon. If anything, an organized and emboldened fundamentalist religious movement buttressed by political power in Washington will continue to challenge accepted scientific theory that collides with religious beliefs. So one must ask, is it too farfetched to see these ideological battles spilling over into areas of medical research and even into funding at the National Institutes of Health?
Now I am not asking for a world that doesnt respect religious belief. My education as a Roman Catholic balanced creed and science. In the classroom of my youth, one nun taught creationism in religion class while another taught evolution in science, and never the twain did meet.
So what does one do? How can a medical student, a resident, or a physician just beginning to build a career become active in these larger public battles? Burt Humburg, MD, a resident in internal medicine at Penn States Hershey Medical Center, is one role model. Hes been manning the evolutionary ramparts since his medical school days in Kansas in the late 1990s when he became active in Kansas Citizens for Science. On a brief vacation from his residency volunteering as a citizen advocate for the federal trial in Pennsylvania, he said education is the key role for the physician. While he realizes that medical students, residents and physicians might not view themselves as scientists, per se, he sees himself and his colleagues as part of the larger scientific collective that cant afford to shirk its duty. The town scientist is the town doctor, so whether we want it or not, we have the mantlethe trappingsof a scientist .
It is time for the medical community, through the initiative of individual physicians, to address not only how one can heal thy patient, but also how one can heal thy nation. There are many ways to get involved; from the most rudimentaryattending school board meetings, sending letters to the editor, and volunteering at the local science museumto the more demandingrunning for office, encouraging a spouse or partner to do so, or supporting candidates (especially financially) who are willing to speak out for science. As Tip ONeill, the larger-than-life Speaker of the House of Representatives, famously declared, All politics is local. Speak out for science. Isnt that a message that should be advanced in every physicians office?
Northwesterns Jon Miller concedes that speaking out may come with a price, It wont make [physicians]...popular with many people but is important for any profession, particularly a profession based on science to do so . Consider this: shouldnt civic leadership be embedded in the mind of every blooming physician? In the end, doesnt combating this virulent campaign of anti-knowledge lead us back to that old adage of evolutionary leadership by example, Monkey see, monkey do? Seize the day, Doc.
Statements from Scientific and Scholarly Organizations. Sixty statements, all supporting evolution.
Statement on the Teaching of Evolution. By the American Astronomical Society.
Letter from Bruce Alberts on March 4, 2005. President of the National Academy of Sciences.
Botanical Society of America's Statement on Evolution. Excellent statement.
Project Steve. Nat'l Center for Science Education: the overwhelming number of genuine scientists supporting evolution.
The "Clergy Letter Project". 10,000 clergymen endorse evolution.
Statements from Religious Organizations. In favor of evolution.
BTW, nice dodge, but it doesn't answer the question I asked:
"And how would they go about doing that? How do you disprove the existence/influence of a supernatural force? Tell me what scientists could show that would disprove ID."
Which was in response to your statement:
Scientists should be busy trying to disproving ID rather than aborting the thought of it. Yet they are not scientists enough to do what they advocate to do, to let science itself decide.
Can you answer the question, or not?
Historically you mean?? If only that is what I had said. Poor Galileo's plight is getting a little long in the tooth to allow modern scientists to go running for the protection of his martyr's robes every time they are challenged. My point is that scientific hysteria over ID is "like" any other hysteria. And scientists acting dismissive is the same as anyone else doing it. Anyone who has to bolster their argument by silencing the opposition, is afraid of their own position's strength (or lack thereof).
What could scientists do that would disprove the theory of evolution? Not all scientific theories are falsifiable. That is why falsifiability is no longer a demarcation criterion in the philosophy of science.
"The A.M.A. is a self-serving political whore. I've been practicing medicine for 26 years and I've yet to hear anything really substantive (that I agree with) come out of that forum." ~ Dawgmeister
You, and most other informed people who don't have a personal agenda to advance.
Shrinking AMA Calls the Shots on Anti-gun Policy
WASHINGTON Despite a declining membership, the American Medical Association is having significant success with its campaign to infuse politically correct anti-gun propaganda into the mainstream of the medical profession.
Many patients are startled to find their doctors asking them if they have any guns in the house. Because this is a matter related less to medicine and more to politics and household safety, many patients are simply refusing to answer. In some cases, they are telling their doctors to back off, according to letter writers responding to NewsMax.coms previous report on the issue.
Compounding the irony is that this entire campaign is driven by an organization whose numbers are shrinking. AMA, once the respected voice of the mainstream of the medical profession, has become just another left-wing interest group. Declining membership does not prevent AMA from presuming to speak for all doctors or from aggressively weaving its leftist dogma into the doctor-patient relationship.
Dr. Lyle Thorstenson, an ophthalmologist from Nacogdoches, Texas, told Physicians Weekly that AMA gains 30,000 members a year and loses 33,000. At this rate, he says, it will be left with no members by 2023.
Further, recent trends have indicated that of those enrolled in AMA, only about 60 percent have been full members. The rest are mostly students and residents, says the weekly.
Michael Perrone, an assistant to a member of the New Jersey Legislature, tells NewsMax.com that his own investigation revealed AMA's membership has nose-dived (in part because of scandals that have wracked the organization) from a huge majority of the nations doctors in the 1960s to only about 30 percent today.
And even that low figure, he says, is inflated with "thousands of free memberships, including thousands of medical students.
A Good Way to Lose Business
What, then, would motivate an organization that has its hands full with internal problems to stick its nose into whether you opt to exercise your Second Amendment rights to own firearms and keep them in your home for your own protection? In some instances, doctors who have followed AMAs line have lost patients in the process. [snip] Click link below to continue.
Wes Vernon, NewsMax.com Wednesday, March 6, 2002
If you're interested in learning about evolution, visit The List-O-Links.
If you're serious about debating this issue, see How to argue against a scientific theory.
If you're permanently stuck on stupid, but determined to post anyway, use the Evolution Troll's Toolkit.
They would use the same criteria that you would use to prove that others beside yourself don't have minds but instead are just pre-programmed robots.
If this is so then why are those who would expose such "grave weaknesses" directing 99.99% of their effort toward pushing the debate in front of high school students, and into other such popular and political venues where there can be no possible decisive result; and only 0.01% of their effort toward making their case before the professional scientific community, for instance with original scientific research?
Don't you realize how utterly bizarre and ahistorical the behavior of antievolutionists is in this respect? No group of scientists who sincerely believed they possessed a superior new theory, or a compelling refutation of an existing theory, would ever, or have ever, behaved in this way.
A scientist pushing a new, fringe, controversial, etc, idea will seek to recruit working scientists, or at least advanced science students likely to soon begin a research career, who can help develop and advance his ideas; NOT high school students, or even college students taking intro-biology to fulfill a course requirement, who can contribute nothing!
A scientist who sincerely believes that his new ideas have real scientific merit wants other scientists in the end to notice, consider and test those ideas. Therefore such a scientist will NEVER attempt to force adoption of his ideas in secondary school and introductory curricula, knowing this can only INCREASE hostility toward them in the scientific community, as it will appear to be an attempted "end run" around the process of peer review.
It is no more or less of a response than you would see towards a widespread, politically powerful movement to teach astrology as a serious discipline in public schools.
You've got that exactly backward. As a theory of universal common descent, "Darwinism" required rejection of spontaneous generation (the emergence of life from non-life as a mundane or normal process of nature). Clearly if living things are continually coming into existence, then all living things cannot be related only by biological reproduction. Spontaneous generation, in contrast, was accepted and incorporated into the previous and competing evolutionary theory of "Lammarkianism," and was also accepted by many pre-Darwinian creationists.
Theories that take scientists years of hard work to learn, and which have taken centuries to test and refine, they are able to see through in seconds; all it takes is a quick trip to one of the creationist websites.
And the rapier-like wit of some the debaters! Stunning. Some examples:
Underdetermination (of the Quine-Duhem sort) makes evolutionary theory per se immune to falsification by the finding of a Precambrian rabbit. Which is more likely: that the rabbit found in what we thought was a Precambrian stratum is actually Precambrian, or that the stratum is not actually Precambrian, or that there was some anomaly that allowed this rabbit (which lived long after the Precambrian era) to become embedded in this Precambrian stratum? A certain view of evolutionary history (or certain proposed phylogenies and taxonomies) might be falsified in this manner, but not evolutionary theory per se.
A case could be made in support of evolutionary theory as an inference to the best explanation, no matter what the fossil record looked like.
Bump your post.
It's a turf war, pure and simple. Fear. They fear they'll lose the freedom to openly ridicule their own students, fear a loss of prestige, loss of postion--perhaps even loss of money, lest a grant find its way into the ID crowd.
You can get a pretty good idea how their students are treated by the way they behave here.
Pasteur did nothing of the sort. Dariwnists do not attack Edward Jenner. You need to re-read your History of Medicine text.
This happens most often with pediatricians, who have one of the wussiest medical organizations.
You might be surprised to know that virtually no doc is happy about this--and you might be surprised how many docs, at least in the past, used to pack heat under the white coats in the ER.
Here's a clue about all medical organizations--they are made up of the doctors who are dying to get away from clinical work--they don't want to see patients. So, they try to find a related job in admin, business or politics. Most docs hate the politics part, so they don't pay much attn to it. And there's always that power trip--"I get to tell other docs what to do."
Well, no. They don't have much authority--except in setting standards of care. That's why you find docs asking questions they don't really want to ask--they fear someone accusing them of not providing proper standard of care.
Don't take these orgs as representing anything other than busybodies who don't like doing real doctor work.
So, when Hare Krishna's try to get "transcendental meditation" into the public school curricula, we shouldn't fight a "turf war" against them?
Likewise we shouldn't fight a "turf war" against radical environmentalists who substitute scientific ecology with ideological environmentalism?
Indeed whenever curricula is reworked by ethnic, ideological or other "affinity" groups, we should simply stand aside?
Or is it only FOR YOUR AFFINITY GROUP that we should stand down? (Thought so.)