28 October 2007

The Debate is the Important Thing--Without Debate it is not Science

This NPR interview with Phillipe Rushton, intelligence researcher, is audio only, but that is probably just as well. The discomfiture of the NPR interviewer was quite palpable without showing her face as well.

Does anyone have an idea as to why NPR actually broadcast this very atypical "shining of the media spotlight" on such an un-PC topic--even in the context of the James Watson lynching?

I criticised Watson myself for applying statistical means to individuals in the general public, but all in all, I suspect the "piling on" has been quite gratuitously egregious. [ed: redundancy alert!]

The Q&A session from this Google Talk by Watson on DNA and the Brain reveals the normal effect of aging on the brain. Particularly disturbing was watching the Google employees who seemed to take pleasure in Watson's stumbling for words, repetitions, and occasional non sequiturs.

I recently helped celebrate the 98th birthday of a long time friend, whose mind is still remarkably sharp. But long life is not kind to any brain--simply less unkind to some than others. With research into human cognition, and ways to reverse neurodegenerative changes from age and disease, perhaps some of us can look forward to 198th year birthdays with minds as clear or clearer than we currently possess.

The important thing about science is to allow debate even if the issue is a bit ticklish for most people's tastes. When looking at controversial ideas, it is particularly important to provide public avenues for debate and dissent--while at the same time maintaining high standards of rigour for evidence and argument.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts