Save Our Science

1.  Carl Sagan Interview (Charlie Rose show, May 27, 1996) – Carl Sagan was an amazing guide for humanity who inspired a love of science in millions with his books and television shows.  Sagan believed there should be a passionate ongoing conversation between the public and the science community about the implications of new discoveries.  In one of his last interviews, Sagan discussed the need for an educated, informed public to question the assertions of those in power.  We honor Dr. Sagan for his many contributions to society and hope that PLAGUE is the kind of book which would have kept him up reading until the early hours of the morning.

2.  How journals like Nature, Cell, and Science are damaging science (Opinion piece by 2013 Nobel Prize Winner in Medicine, Dr. Randy Schekman, published in The Guardian newspaper, December 9, 2013) On the day before receiving the 2013 Nobel Prize in Medicine, Dr. Randy Schekman published an article in The Guardian newspaper in which he declared his intention to never submit another piece of research to the journals, Science, Cell, Nature, and others like them because they are not serving the best interests of humanity and society.  We salute Dr. Schekman for this 'Profile in Courage.'

3.  Special Issue of the Journal of Law Medicine and Ethics devoted to Institutional Corruption and the Pharmaceutical Industry   (Harvard University – The Lab @ Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics – September 30, 2013) Taken directly from the front page of the Safra Center for Ethics:

“Their research shows that widespread practices in the medical and pharmaceutical industries can lead to doctors who are psychologically, financially, or intellectually dependent on drug companies, a phenomenon which has resulted in insufficiently tested drugs, many of which can have harmful side effects . . ."   

"Drawing on insights from law, medicine, behavioral psychology, economics and finance, business, sociology, political science, and philosophy, the Fellows’ research also shows how lawmakers and patient advocacy groups can be dependent on money from drug companies, resulting in representation that serves the interests of big pharma rather than the public.”

 4.  The Structure of Scientific Revolutions – (Non-fiction book by Thomas S. Kuhn - Published in 1962.)  Even though this book is more than fifty years old, its essential message remains timely and relevant.  Kuhn argued that science is not a slow and linear accumulation of facts and greater understanding, but a "series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions" in which "one conceptual world view is replaced by another."  Citing examples from history, including the revolution in astronomy by Galileo and Copernicus, physics by Newton, and biology by Darwin, Kuhn believed that the continued questioning of established authority and knowledge would remain a critical part of scientific inquiry as long as man continued to be curious about his world.

5.  Osler’s Web – (Non-fiction book by Hillary Johnson - Published in 1996) – Journalist Hillary Johnson does a masterful job of tracing the course of chronic fatigue syndrome/ME from its first appearance in 1934-1935 among doctors and nurses at Los Angeles County Hospital in the midst of a polio epidemic to the 1984-1985 outbreak which seemed to center in the Western Nevada resort town of Incline Village and would go onto sicken more than a million people across the United States.  The New York Times wrote of the book, "Her carefully researched tale describes an important piece of recent medical history that might never have been recorded if it weren't for her efforts."

6.  Masterminds - Genius, DNA, and the Quest to Rewrite Life - (Non-fiction book by David Ewing Duncan - Published in 2006) - Award-winning science writer Duncan profiles the masterminds of genetics and biotechnology who are looking to forever alter life on earth in this fascinating, quirky, and often unsettling account.  Duncan's writing is among the best I have ever encountered in describing the brave and problematic world our techological advancements are creating.  Just one of his many gems: "As a nonscientist enthusiastic about science, I am properly awed by the possibilities.  I also wonder, at times, whether I should be afraid.  I lean more towards amazement than not, but I am skeptical, too, strongly believing that nonscientists need to do their homework to understand the new science, to be informed enough to be impressed, cautious, or afraid.  Most of all, we need to stop being mystified, to learn enough to question intelligently and to push our high priests of science to explain what they're up to."  This is science writing of the very highest order.

We salute those brave souls who challenge current scientific practices, prejudices, and politics that interfere with the search for truth.