When Ideology Drives Science
By Peter Saunders
In July 1949, the New England Journal of Medicine printed an article by Dr Leo Alexander titled ‘Medical Science under Dictatorship’.
In it, he explains what happens to science when it ‘becomes subordinated to the guiding philosophy’ of a political ideology.
‘Irrespective of other ideologic trappings’, he argues, the ‘guiding philosophic principle of recent dictatorships’ is to replace ‘moral, ethical and religious values’ with ‘rational utility’.
Alexander eloquently demonstrates how ‘medical science in Nazi Germany collaborated with this Hegelian trend’ and became the source of ‘propaganda’ which was ‘highly effective in perverting public opinion and public conscience, in a remarkably short time’.
This expressed itself in a rapid decline in standards of professional ethics and led ultimately to the German medical profession’s active participation in ‘the mass extermination of the chronically sick’ and of ‘those considered socially disturbing or racially and ideologically unwanted’.
Britain is not Nazi Germany and is a democracy rather than a dictatorship. However, all democracies are also susceptible to influence by well organised minorities and it is very clear, in this post-Christian society, that the corridors of power are increasingly filled by those who do not subscribe to a Christian worldview and values.
In fact, many of those who occupy positions of influence in our ‘mountains of culture’ – universities, schools, media, judiciary, parliament institutions and entertainment industry – are actively hostile to Christianity and supportive of public policy directions consistent with a secular humanist agenda – eg. pro-choice on abortion, supportive of ‘assisted dying’, embryo research and same sex marriage.
These issues are of course highly political. But is there any evidence that the ‘medical science’ marshalled to support them is in any way being influenced or shaped by secular humanist ideology?
Two articles in the latest edition of Triple Helix would say ‘yes’. They make the case that financial or ideological vested interests can be used to stifle the truth when medical issues become highly politicised. Both articles question the way that British Royal Colleges have handled scientific evidence in their support for a certain public policy direction.
Donna Harrison, Executive Director and Director of Research and Public Policy at the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (AAPLOG), argues that the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has misrepresented available scientific evidence to support its view that there is no link between abortion and breast cancer.
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