Science is liable to politics
Commentary by Donald DeMarco
We like to think that scientists are people of unswerving integrity who report what they find without being unduly influenced by current fashions. Politicians, journalists, educators, religious leaders, businessmen, and sales personnel of every stripe may blow in the wind, but scientists, so we want to believe, are pillars of professional integrity. Unfortunately, though it should not be surprising, this is not the case.
Perhaps Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes stated the disappointing truth most eloquently when he spoke the following words to the Massachusetts Medical Society in an 1869 address entitled, “Currents and Countercurrents in Medical Science”: Although “theoretically medicine ought to go on its own straightforward inductive path without regard to changes of government or to fluctuations of public opinion … the truth is that medicine, professionally founded on observation, is as sensitive to outside influences, political, religious, philosophical, imaginative, as the barometer to the changes of atmospheric density.”
No profession is exempt from the influences of the Zeitgeist. We find an extreme example of the suppression of science in Soviet Russia, where its communist government decreed that pure science is a morbid symptom of class society. Science was entirely subordinate to the practical needs of Marxist socialism. This position, of course, is profoundly ironic, for Marxism itself was allegedly founded on scientific principles.
In Canada, psychiatrist Thomas Verny’s book, The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, was the fruit of what the author describes as “six years of intensive study, thought, research, and travel.” Yet, his manuscript was initially rejected by six Canadian publishing houses. After it was finally published, by Doubleday in the United States, Verny rapidly became a non-person in the scientific community, shunned by his colleagues, and was no longer invited to speak at science seminars. Although Verny does not oppose abortion and is a self-declared atheist, he did speak before pro-life audiences. He found that pro-life people were more interested in what science can reveal about the unborn child than were many of his own fellow scientists. Verny claims in his book that the scientific research of a variety of neurologists, audiologists, and obstetricians provides “incontestable physiological evidence that the fetus is a learning, sensing, feeling being.” “We now know,” he informs us, “that the unborn child is an aware, reacting human being.” The abortion establishment, needless to say, does not want the public to know the truth about the nature of the unborn child.
In the 1940s, the United States War Department established a policy forbidding the transfusion of blood between whites and blacks. Charles Richard Drew, the great hematologist and pioneer in preserving blood, strongly objected to this policy. “Blood is blood,” he protested, pointing out that it is a scientifically established truth that blood from whites and blacks is indistinguishable. His protestations were in vain, however, and Drew, himself a black man, resigned his governmental post.
In our own moment of history, can we rely on scientists to tell us the truth about the unborn child, the link between abortion and certain forms of contraception to breast cancer, the extent of the health problems cause by homosexual activity? We are systematically shielded from the truth by the government and the mass media, working in co-operation with politically correct scientists.
Our knowledge of science is limited by the integrity of scientists. Science itself is innocent, but scientists are free to dissimulate. We think of our age as an Age of Science. But we may well ask whether it is, in practice, an Age of Politics. Science is the dominant feature of our age. Yet our cultural climate is not well suited to convey, without compromise or distortion, the scientific knowledge, especially in the area of life issues, that is available.
Are we being told the truth about the cloning of human beings, the nature of stem cell research, the inherent dangers associated with in-vitro fertilization and other forms of reproductive technology, and the adverse psychological effects of pornography? The enslavement of science to the ideology of the state, the legacy of Marxism, is not something we want to perpetuate in 21st century North America. Scientists may have no more integrity as a group than people of other professions. The important point, however, is that the health of our society demands integrity from people in all walks of life, from science to sponsorship to news reporting to media analysis to government involvement. How much of our health and welfare has been compromised as a result of others compromising their integrity? An Age of Truth would be the indispensable cornerstone for an Age of Health.