Angry Doctor

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Rightful Place

"We will restore science to its rightful place and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its costs."

Barack Obama, Inauguration Address

angry doc was moved by Obama's inauguration address, and that line in particular brought tears to his eyes. He believes he is not the only one.

Over at ScienceBlogs the folks are so excited by this promise, they have started a project to discuss the idea of
The Rightful Place of science.

Many science bloggers have contributed their views, and it is well-worth a read.

angry doc identifies with Cortonix's take:

If you walk into a room and flip a switch and the light does not come on, what do you do? I doubt that you throw yourself on the floor in fear, speaking in tongues, praying, blaming the Aliens or asking the Government to help you. You calmly go about dissecting the problem into pieces: is there electricity in the house? If not, did you pay the bill? If yes, should the fuse be flipped or replaced? If not, perhaps the light bulb burned out: replace and see what happens. If that does not work, perhaps replacing the socket will work. If not, checking the wiring may help. You go through the problem systematically, testing each element, until you find the problem and fix it. You do the same if water is dripping in your kitchen sink, or your car is running funny.

But when it comes to bigger problems that affect the broader society, some adults forget their inherent scientific mindset and let indoctrination and ideology take over. As the problems become more complex, and the science behind it more difficult to understand, other social influences tend to take precedence. See: global warming denialists, HIV/AIDS denialists, anti-vaccination crowd, Creationists of all stripes, New Age proponents, medical quackery believers, animal rightists, and so on. Faced with complexity that goes against the dogma received by parents, teachers, priests and media, people shut off their natural scientific mindset and go with what "feels" right to them, instead of with reality.

We are not in America, but as you can see from the links angry doc embedded in the quote above, we too need ask ourselves what the rightful place of science in our society is.

angry doc believes that science does not always provide the answer, and that it is merely a tool - although a very reliable one. The problem, as Cortonix pointed out above, is that too often when it comes to questions that can be answered by science, or questions to which science can provide us with a lot of data to base our decisions on, people choose not to use that tool but rely on "indoctrination and ideology", tools (if you can call them such) which are untested and unchallenged (and becoming increasingly unchallengeable).

angry doc may not be able to do much to put science back in its rightful place, but he hopes that with the help of his fellow Clearthought bloggers and his readers he can do his bit. He hopes you will join him in his efforts.

Thank you.



  • When he said: "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers", I thought - can he say that on their national television?

    I almost winked at the TV set, but I noticed that Obama did not miss a beat at all.

    By Blogger The Key Question, At January 31, 2009 7:28 pm  

  • Pseudoscience and quackery is much more insidious and less in-your-face in Singapore than over in the US. It takes time to chip away the deeply entrenched cultural beliefs in pseudoscience over here. But we'll labor on and do our little bit for science.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At February 01, 2009 6:20 pm  

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