Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Does Science Matter?

With scientific discoveries come an enhanced quality of human life and greater public interest from those findings. In the field of clinical pharmacology, for instance, scientists in this specialty have become trailblazers by developing better drug treatments. Over the last 50 years, their research vastly improved the efficiency of a drug's effect and duration in the body, measurements to track the progress of a given medication, and follow-ups to treat potential side effects [2]. Had it not been for their tireless efforts, many people who need medication today may either not be alive or still suffering from their ailments.

This is one instance why science is still held in high regard today, despite its lack of appropriate coverage in the media. According to the 2008 General Social Survey, more than 80% of Americans were "very" or "moderately" intrigued by current scientific discoveries [3]. Even though most people are not actively involved in scientific research, the preceding statistic shows that they're still curious to find out what is being uncovered. Science may not be interesting in America now as it was during the Cold War, but its efforts to find solutions to numerous, contemporary problems keeps science relevant.

However, for all its blessings, the bane of scientific discoveries means that people's livelihood will be subjected to greater threats than they could've foreseen. Some opponents of science claim that field of study to be "intrinsically evil" because its discoveries either permit unwarranted corruption or destruction with newfound scientific aid [4]. Indeed, scientific studies can be manipulated to sound beneficial, when in fact they are dangerous, possibly even fatal. For example, controversy arose in 2007 when the Food and Drug Administration kept Avandia, a pill for diabetics, on the market even though several studies found the drug caused adverse cardiac reactions in up to 43% of users compared to those who took placebos or similar medication [1]. A scientific discovery of this magnitude should've raised serious red flags and never been approved for treatment in the first place. Still, the FDA's insistence to keep the drug available shows the audacity one will do to sweep any malignant issues under the rug, especially when they stand to make a profit. As long as science continues to generate positive and negative implications with its findings, addressing its role in society will remain a checkered affair.

Ultimately, science matters because its results affect many facets of life, from fighting the common cold to fighting various types of cancer. This relationship between science and society is not an unrequited love affair; both need each other so the circle of life will keep moving forward. But, it's not just clinical pharmacology making a difference. Many fields, such as physics and ecology, play an important role in people's lives by offering applicable insight into the world they live in.

Most of the time, new findings corroborate or provide alternative explanations for falsifiable hypotheses as part of the scientific method. Other times, such discoveries are not pleasant to hear – like the Avandia case – and skeptics will subsequently excoriate anything related to science. Nonetheless, to reject every scientific finding would be as nearsighted as the Catholic Church once was when they thought Galileo's theory of a heliocentric universe was heresy. Simply put, without science, there is no progress.

(Academic) Works Cited
[1] Calabresi, Massimo and Alice Park. "After Avandia: Does the FDA Have a Drug Problem?" Time. 12 Aug. 2010. Web.

[2] Dollery, Colin Terence. "The Scientific Contribution of Clinical Pharmacology." European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Vol. 64 (2), 3 Jan. 2008. Pp. 99-106. Springer Berlin/Heidelberg. Web.

[3] "Information Sources, Interest, and Involvement." Science and Engineering Indicators 2010. National Science Board, Jan. 2010. Web.

[4] Siegfried, Tom. "Ease of Destruction Poisons Society's Affair with Science." Dallas Morning News 2 Mar. 1998: 7D. NewsBank. Web.

No comments:

Post a Comment