"The Impact of 'Scientific Misinformation' on Other Fields: Philosophy, Theology, Biomedical Ethics, Public Policy"


Such are a few of the theoretical and practical influences which some of the seemingly basic scientific inaccuracies have had on other fields. Perhaps what I have naively perceived as "incorrect" science is actually an erroneous judgment on my part. If such is the case, I am certainly not alone, and the scientific community would well-serve those of us in other fields by clarifying for us which theories of human biochemistry, human genetics, human molecular biology and human embryological development "best fit" the scientific data. The need for clarity is important, as complex decisions in other fields can go one way or another, depending on which scientific theory is perceived as the best explanation of the scientific facts.

To parlay this into the "if...then" language of philosophy, IF IT IS TRUE: that the human zygote does not have all of the genetic information it needs to develop; that it is not a human being; that information from the mother determines the process of differentiation; that it does not possess the information needed for developing past the blastocyst stage; that hydatidiform moles and teratomas proceed from normal human zygotes; that all of the cells from the trophoblast layer are discarded after birth; that no twinning takes place after 14 days; that before that point there is no individual; that all of the genetic input is complete only at the 2-cell stage; that differentiation is completed by the 14-day stage; that analogies between transient and stable natures, between the "nuclei" of radioisotopes, plants, animals and humans, between the generations of radioisotopes, plants, animals and humans, and between the causality of radioisotope "daughters" and human gametes can be validly and soundly made; that chemists consider all atoms of an element to be identical and that they don't consider the individual atoms; that parallels between brain death and brain birth, sentience and pain, consciousness or self-consciousness and "rational attributes", immature nerve nets and adult whole brain integration can be validly and soundly made ---------
THEN it is true that there is present no human organism, or human being, or human "person" at fertilization or before certain biological "marker events of personhood". If that is true, then there is no entity bearing any moral or legal rights of its own. If that is true, then early human embryos and fetuses may be used in a myriad of experimental research protocols, frozen and thawed with no personal or legal concern for damages, declared as property in the court rooms, aborted and harvested for organs or tissues. To be both logically and "realistically" consistent, one would have to argue the same fate for normal healthy infants and young children (not to mention those of us who are not so "normal") - because both real "rational attributes" and real sentience and full brain organization are not complete until well after childhood.

This same logic must hold at the other end of the life-spectrum. The "souls" or "properties" of persons disappear one by one in the reverse order from whence they came: first the "rational", then the "sensitive" - and finally we are left with a "something" which is senile or in a "permanent vegetative state". If this "something" is now not a person, then it is probably ethical to experiment on it, medical treatment should be removed and/or ceased - and organ transplantation could begin.

If this science and logic is true, then it should certainly be compiled into journal articles, text books, encyclopedias, encoded in professional medical standards, become hospital policy, be translated into state and federal statues, and be processed through Congressional hearings and court rooms. Finally, it should be acted on "uniformly" by national commissions and regulatory agencies - and once so institutionalized, it should be considered as a "precedent" for other international bodies to adopt as well.

IF IT IS NOT TRUE: if the product of fertilization during human fertilization is a living, individual human being who must simultaneously be a human person; if specifically human functions, proteins and enzymes are observed and produced from the zygote-stage on; if specifically human tissue and organ systems are continuously produced from the zygote-stage on; if all of the processes and stages of human embryogenesis are directly and completely encoded in the original human zygote (including the 2-cell and blastocyst stages, as well as totipotency, differentiation, nerve-net and whole brain formation - sometimes even twinning); if methylation and the cascading effect are properly documented and understood; if hydatidiform moles and teratomas do not proceed from normal human embryos; if twinning does take place after 14 days; if differentiation, the attainment of "rational attributes" or of sentience is not complete until at least early adulthood; if there are profound differences between the "nuclei" of radioisotopes, plants animals and humans, between the generation of radioisotopes, plants, animals and humans, and between the causality of radioisotope "daughters" and human gametes; if there are natural isotopes of most of the elements in the periodic table, and chemists are concerned with individual atoms; if "models" of transient natures do not equal real human embryogenesis; if there is no real scientifically demonstrated parallel between brain death and brain life, nerve nets and whole brains, consciousness, self-consciousness and sentience, and between immature and mature capacities --------
THEN it is true that there is no distinction between a human being and a human person which is empirically verifiable (or philosophically defensible). If this is true, then a human zygote or a human fetus is a human being and a human person which is the bearer of his or her own moral and legal rights. If that is true, then should they be used in purely experimental protocols, damaged by freezing and thawing, depicted as property in our court rooms, harvested for organs or tissues? Infanticide, experimentation on the senile or on patients in a "permanent vegetative state", and the withholding and withdrawing of life-sustaining medical treatment (unless for the direct benefit of that person) would be morally unacceptable. If this science is correct, then it would be reasonable for it to be compiled into journal articles, text books and encyclopedias, and different policies should be adopted in professional medical codes, hospital policies, state and federal statues; processed before Congressional hearings and court rooms; and institutionalized in national and international regulations.


So which scientific data and theories of nuclear chemistry, human biochemistry, human genetics, human molecular biology and human embryology best explain the empirical data? Non-scientists cannot sort out the accuracy and reliability of these contradictory scientific claims.

I have attempted in this paper to draw attention to the fact that scientific inaccuracies - even in considering only one current issue - have apparently "cascaded" throughout a number of other seemingly unrelated fields, influencing their theoretical superstructures and at least partially determining the development of public policy. Aristotle's adage rings true - a small error in the beginning leads to a multitude of errors in the end. Both kinds of scientific theories addressed here cannot both be correct and true. Each one leads to a set of different conclusions when used by theorists in other fields.

Perhaps most scientists have little time or interest to worry about such things. Or perhaps he or she remains basically unaware of what happens to the data and theories once they have been submitted - other than for specifically scientific purposes. I hope that this discussion may to some degree indicate how their data and theories can strongly influence other fields, and I would encourage scientists to consider, investigate, and discuss how they may help us sort it out.


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