Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Road to Stagnation

Tyler Cowen, in The Great Stagnation, says we need to “Raise the social status of scientists”
If we are going to see further major technological breakthroughs, it is a big help if people love science, care deeply about science, and science attracts a lot of the best American and foreign minds. The practice of science has to yield social esteem, and teams of scientists should have a strong esprit de corps and feel they are doing something that really matters.
It turns out there are lots of scientists doing just that. Look around the web, scientists are doing great research and are providing lots of fascinating content and expert reviews!

But this isn’t enough. We also need a society and a government that allows technology and science to stumble forward, to probe and find the limits of possibility. This is imperative.

And so today, I turn the microphone over to Razib Khan who is not pleased with the government’s desire to disallow individuals from accessing their own genetic information:
In the very near future you may be forced to go through a “professional” to get access to your genetic information. Professionals who will be well paid to “interpret” a complex morass of statistical data which they barely comprehend. Let’s be real here: someone who regularly reads this blog (or Dr. Daniel MacArthur or Misha’s blog) knows much more about genomics than 99% of medical doctors. And yet someone reading this blog does not have the guild certification in the eyes of the government to “appropriately” understand their own genetic information. Someone reading this blog will have to pay, either out of pocket, or through insurance, someone else for access to their own information. Let me repeat: the government and professional guilds which exist to defend the financial interests of their members are proposing that they arbitrate what you can know about your genome. A friend with a background in genomics emailed me today: “If they succeed in ramming this through, then you will not be able to access your own damn genome without a doctor standing over your shoulder.” That is my fear. Is it your fear? Do you care?
This is an issue of personal rights, and Jeffrey Shuren of the FDA ( uses outright lies to persuade others of his case.

If we don’t wish to stampede down The Road to Stagnation and the diminishment of individual rights, then we need to stand up against this madness.