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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2004 > Feb > Feb 10

Stupidity In The New Age Of Anti-Science

From: Frank Warren <frank-warren.nul>
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 05:48:54 -0800
Fwd Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 14:53:27 -0500
Subject: Stupidity In The New Age Of Anti-Science


Source: The Scotsman

http://news.scotsman.com/opinion.cfm?id=3D160812004

10 February 2004


Stupidity in the new age of anti-science

Gillian Bowditich

SOME 3.7 million people claim to have been abducted by aliens.
Only 11 per cent of Americans believe in evolution. Type "Flat
Earth Society" into the Google search engine on the internet and
you will have a choice of 466,000 sites. How did we get this
stupid?

One explanation is that the aliens doing all that abducting have
been removing people=92s brains. Perhaps there is a UFO pathology
laboratory hovering somewhere over Bonnybridge with the sum of
our collective senses pickled in jars.

How else are we to explain the phenomenon of what the
philosopher Roger Scruton describes as "reason on the retreat,
both as an ideal and a reality"? It=92s not just that we have
become a nation of gullible, emotionally incontinent, deeply
irrational sentimentalists. Nor that, where once we would have
hidden our credulousness, we now proudly wear it on our
distressed linen sleeves. It is the fact that this stupidity is
officially sanctioned, pandered to and incorporated into our
laws.

The latest example of this is the Human Tissues Bill currently
going through Parliament. This bill is the government=92s response
to the organ retention outcry at Royal Liverpool Children=92s
Hospital in Alder Hey five years ago. If it becomes law, the use
for research purposes of tissue samples, blood and even urine
specimens, without specific patient consent, will be illegal.
The penalty for a doctor flouting that law will be up to three
years in jail.

According to Cancer Research UK and the Wellcome Trust, two of
the biggest and best respected medical research organisations in
the world, this bill could stifle advances in childhood
leukaemia, cancer, SARS and AIDS. Already ten research projects
on rare tumours in children have either folded or failed to
start because of the difficulties in carrying out this kind of
scientific research in the current hysterical climate. Mark
Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust, believes that if this
bill were effective now, the work that led to the discovery of
genes responsible for the most common inherited form of breast
cancer might not be possible. It could even be a criminal
offence to try. The Royal College of Pathologists is extremely
concerned about the situation and even the Medical Research
Council, the government-funded organisation, has serious doubts
about the bill.

So the government is rethinking this shoddily drafted piece of
legislation which is likely to clog the system with yet more
bureaucracy, restrict vital research and unwittingly criminalise
doctors? Wrong. The government is pressing ahead. It is doing so
because it is more worried about determined pressure groups
which will resort to emotional blackmail than it is about
stifling vital medical research.

There is no question that the guidelines surrounding organ
retention needed to be overhauled after it became clear that the
practice was widespread. Nor is there any doubt that a group of
people who had already suffered the appalling tragedy of losing
a child, were further upset when they discovered that some of
their loved one=92s organs had been retained without their
knowledge. But the emotive language which has been used in
relation to these cases is a scandal in itself. "We will never
know how many were butchered for their organs," ran one tabloid
headline. The children were referred to as "torn souls". An
alien, reading the Daily Record while waiting for a passing
human to abduct, could have been forgiven for believing Burke
and Hare were on the loose.

The dangerous and insulting premise of the new legislation is
that doctors, if not legislated against, will do unspeakable
things to the rest of us. But even the one rogue pathologist who
caused so much upset at Alder Hey was not killing people. He was
saving lives.

Some of the bereaved have now formed themselves into the
Nationwide Organ Retention Group. They have received apologies,
explanations, a change in clinical practice, an ex-gratia offer
of damages and will soon have a new law. But this is not enough.
They now want compensation, despite the fact that this will
haemorrhage vital funds from an already indebted NHS.

Their lawyer, the deliciously named Mervyn Fudge, says some of
his clients have been unable to work because of the trauma they
have suffered in discovering that body parts had been taken from
relatives without permission. They will need compensation for
loss of earnings as well as compensation for suffering.

Why is nobody prepared to stand up to these chancers? The reason
is that the ultimate crime in these touchy-feely times is not
ignorance or irrationality but lack of empathy. Politicians lack
the courage to condemn this madness even when it means the
potential for real harm to be done to those dependent on medical
research for their health.

This cowardliness on the part of the authorities is being
exploited by extreme groups opposed to all kinds of scientific
progress, be it genetic modification, therapeutic cloning or
animal testing. In the last few months they have scored several
victories. Cambridge University has dropped its plans for a =A332
million primate-research centre for the study of diseases such
as Alzheimer=92s and Parkinson=92s because of security fears. Colin
Blakemore, head of the Medical Research Council was dropped as a
potential candidate for an honour because of New Labour=92s
squeamishness about animal testing. Hunting and fur-farming have
been banned by New Labour. The ease with which these lobby
groups are able to infiltrate and influence government is
alarming.

The rest of us may not be firebombing the homes of scientists,
but we happily swallow all manner of genetically modified
bunkum, be it "molecularly restructured" designer water at =A33 a
bottle, or the latest scare story.

Previous generations had their superstitions, but they had a
fundamental belief in the ability of science to improve their
quality of life. They were proved right. Within three
generations, life expectancy in Britain rose by 30 years. In the
half century after the Second World War, infant mortality fell
from 50 deaths per 1,000 births to fewer than six. For good
measure, science threw in the internet, talking pictures and the
self-cleaning oven.

Science equalled progress and was seen as an almost universally
good thing. Our grandparents may have balked at seating 13 at
the dinner table, but they would never have argued that teaching
children about feng shui was as important as teaching them the
second law of thermodynamics.

Now, in our age of unreason and anti-science, life expectancy is
set to fall for the first time, the fate of tissue samples and
diseased organs has become more important than the welfare of
the living, and the government has announced that alternative
treatments such as Indian ayurvedic medicine could be granted
the same status as conventional medicine on the NHS. According
to Francis Wheen=92s brilliant new book, How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered
The World, the 36,000 general practitioners in this country are
now outnumbered by the 50,000 purveyors of complementary and
alternative medicine.

If that=92s what you want, fine. Just remember, while you are
sitting under your pyramid reordering your charkas and
rebalancing your energy flow, not to get cancer. And be careful
not to venture too close to the edge of the world. You wouldn=92t
want to fall off now, would you?







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