Daily Archives: March 16, 2012

The 21st Century Scientist

Earlier today we discussed some of the characteristics of the animal rights crank, so it’s perhaps appropriate that an award announced earlier this week has highlighted the best qualities of the scientists who are really shaping 21st century medicine.

The Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Foundation has awarded its 2nd €1-million Brain Prize to Professor Karen Steel of Cambridge University, founder of the Mouse Genetics Programme at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, and Professor Christine Petit of the College de France, head of the Genetics and Physiology of Hearing laboratory at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, for:

their unique, world-leading contributions to our understanding of the genetic regulation of the development and functioning of the ear, and for elucidating the causes of many of the hundreds of inherited forms of deafness”

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The Animal Rights Crank

We live in a world where science is increasingly being denied, an age where some appear to value ignorance more then knowledge, where everyone is an expert, where celebrities give medical advice, where every idea is equally valid and worthy of being called a theory, where evidence and fact attain the same stature as delusions and fabrications, where information is diluted in noise, and where bullying is activism.

We see this play out every day, when apparently thoughtful people reject scientific facts to conjure their own, making it nearly impossible to have a reasoned and civil debate on any number of important topics in our society, from climate change, to vaccines, stem-cells, evolution and the use of animals in research.

That’s why today an increasing number of people spend their time decrying the denial of science:

Some animal right activists are veterans in this game. They have a long history of twisting facts,  cherry-picking data, and quoting others out of context to suit their interests. The intelligent crank has become an essential ingredient of the animal rights movement.  The crank regards everyone else as ignorant and stupid, except for himself, of course.  He will accuse scientists of dishonesty, and of having other ulterior motives for their work and opinions. If his ideas are ignored, the crank will declare victory and his arguments to be unanswerable. He will display public tantrums when his work is rejected from scientific journals or when he is refused to lecture in academia. His “theories” are typically based on complexity rather simplicity, ambiguity rather than clarity, and fabrications rather than facts.  He will publicize these ideas in volumes that advertise his vast erudition.

When the crank and his followers face a simple fact that contradict their views, such as the discovery of a novel therapy from breast cancer based on the antibody from a mouse, they will have to offer an explanation. Rather than accepting the rejection of their beliefs, they will make up a story, such as suggesting the discovery was the outcome of chance. In this regard, there is absolutely no difference between their behavior and that of the Seekers who, upon realizing the Aliens did not show up to rescue them as their prophet had assured them, had to rationalize an explanation to prevent their entire belief system from collapsing.

We appear to live in an age where a prophet and his cult have the same standing as a scientist and his method. But science, facts and knowledge will prevail, and together, we will get through the STORM: