The Lancet was once a leading British medical journal. It was sober and medically exacting. It was so respected that it was often cited to settle controversial issues in the field of medicine.
Today, it is a shell of its former self, shot through with leftist political ideolog. A recent editorial called out the UK Home Secretary for her “appalling and shocking“ comments.
Was it about a drop in research funding or disputed medical opinions or something else of direct relevance to medicine? No, the Secretary opined that new migrants to the UK possessed “values which are at odds with our country“ and brought “heightened levels of criminality“.
Some might dispute such statements and some not, but how is this discussion pertinent for a medical journal? Richard Horton, the editor, went on to call for “war“ on the other side of the ideological divide.
Horton and The Lancet are hardly alone in degrading medicine by politicizing it. Science and scientists are in reputational decline because, well, they deserve to be.
Physicians were once respected for their integrity. They could be stodgy and paternalistic sometimes, but they couldn’t be influenced or bought.
Now the medical doctors have morphed from being dedicated stewards of their patients’ health to “medical providers”, as government payers describe them. Most owe their professional loyalty to a hospital-based system that operates pretty much like any other business, with the bottom line always in view.
Meanwhile, on issues ranging from Covid to climate science to transgenderism we are urged to follow “the Science” as if Science were the collective pronouncements of the big shots rather than a process for rolling back the limits of knowledge. “The Science” is often determined by hacks who are especially successful at scoring research grants because they supply the answers our grant making elites want to hear.
Politicized science can lead to some bizarre and harmful conclusions. There is now a movement against randomized controlled trials (RCTs) because they didn’t produce the approved answer to the question of whether face masks prevent infection.
Scientific American stated “decades of engineering and occupational science” show they worked. So there. No silly trials needed to confirm what everyone knows anyway.
But RCTs are the only way to determine whether a premise is factual. They are the basis of the scientific method, which lifted us out of millennia of ignorance and produced the marvels of modern medicine. Exposing well regarded but ineffective practices are precisely why they are needed.
While real scientists encourage debate and discovery, pseudoscientists silence those who dissent from the status quo. For example, scientific journals demanded the retraction of research producing evidence that transgenderism can be a social contagion.
Dr. Lisa Littman of Brown University coined the term “rapid onset gender dysphoria“ after her research revealed that although sufferers from the malady are customarily entered into transitioning protocols including hormones and surgery, they often present for treatment in clusters of young women who together discovered their supposedly mistaken gender identity. Dr. Littman’s research was retracted by Brown soon after it was published, due to the outrage of the medical mob.
Yet other researchers like Abigail Shrier and institutions like the UK’s Tavistock Center noted the same phenomenon. Springer Nature, a journal noted for its scientific soundness, was set to publish a review of 1655 possible cases of rapid onset gender dysphoria but reversed course, deciding to retract it due to the suspiciously flimsy objection that “written informed consent” was possibly lacking in the study. Intellectual tyranny defeated open debate again.
We need a respected, honest scientific community more than ever. We need them to make more scientific advances, to train future scientists and to protect us from the befouling influence of politics on science. The antics of Dr. Fauci and others, bending the truth to seek political favor, did lasting damage to the reputation of the scientific community.
Climate science too has been hopelessly compromised by politics and the biased grant-making process. One of the results is an epidemic of existential depression among young Americans who believe their lives will end in devastation because of excessive carbon emissions (still wrong, no matter how many times it’s been predicted). It’s a shame.
Thomas C. Patterson, a retired physician & former state senator, lives in Paradise Valley Arizona.
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