Author Topic: Not enough science in the current discussions of contraceptive issue  (Read 4373 times)


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Not enough science in the current discussions of contraceptive issue
By Flor Lacanilao

I noticed that with the way our discussions on contraceptives have been going, some scientists give conflicting views or opinions without science/scientific support. The public could hardly tell whether some views are from scientists or not. Such discussions may not be useful for the public or government leaders, which need scientific information for education or policy decisions. Most of such decisions will not be useful without scientific inputs.

The above problems are common complaints of our politicians when they invite scientists to congressional hearings or for round table consultation. They say, scientists have conflicting ideas; often don’t agree with each other. I think these problems should be an important concern of science forums and science organizations, if these are to contribute to national progress. They might discuss how to reach a scientific consensus on what to tell the public or politicians about scientific advances when there is debate on controversial national issues.

“This is not to say that scientists should dominate the government decision-making process. It is the business of the politicians, not the scientists, to consider the relative costs and benefits of the options before them, weighing them as they see fit in reaching their conclusions. But many such judgments will be poor ones without effective scientific inputs.” (Bruce Alberts, former president of the US National Academy of Sciences and present editor in chief of Science)

The above reminder is the reason for my 10 Oct comment quoting a concluding statement from the report about Human Reproductive Cloning: “The study panel did not address the issue of whether human reproductive cloning, even if it were found to be medically safe, would be or would not be acceptable to individuals or society.” I think this is for the public or policy makers to decide.

Under the present state of Philippine science—with continued silence of most senior Filipino scientists—the problems with widespread science illiteracy will remain, and lasting solutions to most national problems will yet have to wait. The next generations of Filipino scientists are our best hope. And they should take the challenge. The two Science editorials below will help in preparing them for their social responsibility. They are helpful guides on how to become a scientist and how to be a literate scientist. As a noted physicist says, “How can we promote science literacy without literate scientists.”

(1) “On Becoming a Scientist”  (Science 326:916, 2009)

“One normally becomes a scientist through a series of apprenticeships, pursuing research in laboratories directed by established scientists…learned not only technical skills but also how to think and function as a scientist.”

“…finding the best place for learning how to push forward the frontier of knowledge as an independent investigator.”

(2) “Bridging Science and Society” (Science 327:921, 2010)

“Virtually every major issue now confronting society has a science and technology component, and this means that the need for general scientific understanding by the public has never been larger, and the penalty for scientific illiteracy never harsher.”