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Why science is important for everyone?
“If you haven’t been educated about science and don’t know what science is about, you can’t understand anything about the modern world.”
“Homeopathy is a classical example. Homeopathic medicines are nothing! They are zero. You’ve got a number of molecules you can’t count in your “medicine”, because they’ve been diluted deliberately so far that they’re not there! So how can that make you better? If you’ve got a little pain in your big toe, it probably doesn’t matter. But if you’ve got asthma or cancer or a bacterial infection and you rely on homeopathic “medicines”, you are going to die! This is a disaster!” – Professor Sir Mark Pepys, leading immunologist, amyloidosis specialist, and drug discovery expert:
Professor Pepys, is there anything else you’d like to discuss regarding your work, research, sharing your wisdom? Well, there are two things which I’m very passionate about: one is, people need to understand what science is and how it’s conducted. And I think that that is not well taught, people do not have adequate scientific education in most, probably in all, the developed countries, which I think, to some extent, is unbelievable! The world is such a scientific place, we all go around with these devices in our hands, which are full of high-tech, we travel in a very high-tech way, we communicate in these extremely high-tech ways, and yet people are not adequately taught about science, the nature of science, what it involves, the reproducibility of it, the necessity for transparency and honesty. Richard Feynman, the great Nobel Laureate, an American physicist, he famously said “You have a duty as a scientist, when you present your hypothesis, to show all the evidence which is against your hypothesis just as much as you show the evidence in favor of it. So that people can make up their mind, do they believe your hypothesis or not?” He said “the best way I can explain this is to contrast it with advertising”, OK? Advertising is the complete opposite: you say “my product is the best”, you don’t say “Somebody else has got something which is almost as good, or might be cheaper…” You say “no, buy my product because it’s the best”. That’s all you ever say in advertising. Science has to be the complete opposite, and even the scientists don’t always get that. And the scientists don’t understand, some of them, what science is about! As in the example of association and causality. So in the midst of that disagreement about the role of CRP, a very famous American cardiologist, who fancies himself as an epidemiologist, actually wrote in some comment on the web or somewhere, that my failure to recognize that CRP was causative in myocardial infarction, was complete ignorance and stupidity – how could anybody ignore the compelling body of evidence that proved that CRP causes heart attacks. And we see where that went (CRP “causing” heart attacks) We completely disproved it eventually with genetic epidemiology as well as by all the in vivo and in vitro experiments. So you know you have to understand what science is about. People need to be taught more about it. Because if they are not taught, the population becomes tone-deaf to science as I say. If you are tone-deaf, you can’t appreciate music, if you are tone-deaf to science because you haven’t been educated about it and don’t know what it’s about, you can’t understand anything about the modern world. Homeopathy is a classical example. Homeopathic medicines are nothing! They are zero. You’ve got a number of molecules you can’t count in your “medicine”, because they’ve been diluted deliberately so far that they’re not there! So how can that make you better? If you’ve got a little pain in your big toe, it probably doesn’t matter. But if you’ve got asthma or cancer or a bacterial infection and you rely on homeopathic “medicines”, you are going to die! This is a disaster! – AT: And it delays time to the correct diagnosis and correct treatment! The other thing which I’m very keen on is patient awareness, and making patients understand what their disease is. It’s particularly acute in amyloidosis, which are the patients that I mostly deal with. It’s a rare disease, it’s incredibly complicated, and if you go on the web about it, you can find all sorts of really scary stuff, Well, it is a scary disease, it’s a bad disease to have, but you need to have proper information. So I have been very active in the last few years to develop patient awareness for our patients, and indeed for patients with this disease all around the world. We created a fully interactive website for the patients, there’s a forum where they can write in and have with moderated replies and so on. The patients find this extremely helpful. So they can look up on this website anything about any type of amyloidosis, the treatments, the complications of the treatments, what to do when, if, some things happen, and people in general find that extremely helpful. I think that is very important and being able to communicate is very important. So I know there’s a lot of patient awareness going on and it’s a necessary requirement in most health services that the clinicians and centers provide this, and we’ve been very active in promoting it in our field. That, I think, is an important thing to do if one can…