Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Always Question a Scientist

...and an accountant and an economist and any other "expert" that uses their field to claim a moral authority.

This statement is mainly motivated by a recent conversation with someone who has a science degree (I think it's biology), but who actually works for a clinical testing company. She's a salesperson not an actual scientist, but she likes to claim she is one and people tend to cede authority to her. (She's always talking about Darwin and DNA testing.)

This exchange was part of a larger group discussion about Collapse by Jared Diamond. It's a book about societal collapses resulting from poor decisions about the environment, resource-use, etc. One of the issues raised by a member was that we need to listen to "science" more and that science will save us. I raised the point that science does not solve everything. Look at diseases that develop immunity to drugs already proven to defeat them. And someone did say that we really shouldn't and can't fight against nature. But I still felt like I lost the battle.

We as a society cede authority to scientists, accountants (I'm one!), economists, etc. because we don't understand what they do or what they talk about. And they know it. In fact, they love to use their technical language to establish authority. I don't understand how a cell splits or mutates, or how DNA functions or how chemicals react with each other and it's easy to feel intimidated by those that do.

This is one of the reasons why we are still on the losing end of the battle with animal researchers. We don't speak their language as well as they do and society at large tends to listen to those who sound like they are "experts." But we need to get past this and keep speaking out.

Science does not solve everything. Science itself is made of up of facts, but it is practiced and interpreted by scientists. And those scientists are humans with the same motivations and agendas as any other human.

Science is only as useful as the hands in which it lies. Are those hands good or evil? And who is making that subjective decision? Just because you can tell me that a cell mutates does not mean that you have the moral authority to tell me what kind of society I should live in. It doesn't mean that you have the moral authority to tell me that I must support animal testing because you know better.

Science is not democratic and it loves it that way. They bemoan the fact that they've been underground for all of the Bush years and, yes, there is a lot of good science out there, but we need to question these people. Especially if they claim to be acting in our best interests.

1 comment:

Bea Elliott said...

"Just because you can tell me that a cell mutates does not mean that you have the moral authority to tell me what kind of society I should live in. It doesn't mean that you have the moral authority to tell me that I must support animal testing because you know better."

Well said! Excellent post - And the idea extends too to all other animal users... "farmers", "zoo-keepers", etc. I would even include the American Veterinary Association as their first concern is what "benefit" non-animals can yield to man.

All animal using "systems" must be questioned and re-evaluated.

Thanks (yet again)... lifting the veil.