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MAY 2014

When ideology drives science

In an editorial in the latest issue of Triple Helix, Dr Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) warns that financial or ideological vested interests can be used to stifle the truth when medical issues become highly politicised. 7  He challenges the ‘medical science’ which supports public policies that oppose Christian ethics on subjects such as abortion, assisted suicide and embryo research and questions the way that British Royal Colleges have handled scientific evidence in their support for certain public policy direction. 8

He refers to the contentious argument about a link between abortion and breast cancer, citing the Director of Research at the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Donna Harrison, who says the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has misrepresented available scientific evidence to support its view that there is no link. She explains why a link between abortion and breast cancer is entirely biologically plausible and points out how oft-quoted studies which deny such a link “resort to errant methodology which obscures the actual scientific question they were purported to answer”. 9

Dr Saunders speaks of an article written in 1949, which explains what happens to science when it “becomes subordinated to the guiding philosophy” of a political ideology. This article shows how “medical science in Nazi Germany” 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”.10

Dr Saunders comments. “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' and embryo research.”

The editorial concludes the importance of being able to “participate in these debates in a fully informed way. They have profound implications, not just for public policy, but also for fully informed consent.”

7 http://www.christianconcern.com/our-concerns/abortion/challenging-false-claims-that-science-supports-policies-that-oppose-christian-  

8 http://www.cmf.org.uk/publications/content.asp?context=article&id=26172

9 http://www.cmf.org.uk/publications/content.asp?context=article&id=26184

10 http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM194907142410201

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