Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Psuedoscience and Superstition Influence Surgeon Generals

Today's Washington Post carries an article (Lee 2007) which quotes former Surgeon Generals Richard Carmona and C. Everett Koop who each make some interesting revelations regarding the pressures applied to them by the Executive Branch to influence their policies. Their statements were made to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform this week. Rather than allow the nation's top physician to base his opinion and policy on science, they were instead influenced by "theology, ideology, [and] preconceived beliefs that were scientifically incorrect."

This is particularly revealed in the present admininstration. Koop stated that, while under Reagan, he was pressured to not speak about HIV/AIDS but ignored this. Apparently Reagan was pressured by advisors to dismiss or replace Koop, but Reagan tolerated Koop.

Carmona, however, was top-Doc in a different sort of administration altogether. Bush has shown all in his administration that thinking and reason aren't welcome -the dismissal of federal prosecutors for no other apparent reason than they didn't act on ideological motivations and used the rule of law and reason to guide their actions is but a single example.

On the topic of sex education, the administration restricted Carmona from speaking about the effectiveness of condoms along with abstinence since the Bush administration was only interested in the pseudoscientific and theologically driven claim that abstinence-only programs are effective and are to get funding.

On the topic of stem cell research, Carmona said he was instructed not to speak about it during the national debate. The top physician of our nation was essentially cuckolded when it should have been his show. Instead of being allowed to inform the President and the nation with scientific data and information, so that reasoned debate and decisions could be made, he was sidelined and forced to watch as Bush screwed the nation. Pre-conceived notions and beliefs too precedent over science and reason."The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science or marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing political winds."

Now the Bush administration has found a new Surgeon General candidate and has nominated James Holsinger to the top-Doc job. Holsinger seems to be a perfect candidate for an administration that isn't interested in science but wishes to base its medical practices on theological and ideological positions. Holsinger wrote an 8-page paper titled "Pathophysicology of Male Homosexuality" in 1991, which concludes that since our culture has named pipe fittings "male" and "female" and that since the two sexes are "complimentary," homosexuality is therefore wrong and gay sex can lead to diseases or injury.

What scientific journal published this paper you ask? None. It was prepared for the Committee to Study Homosexuality of The United Methodist Church. Ignored by Holsinger is the fact that disease and injury is prevalent in sex between males and females, even ones that are married. Ignored by Holsinger are deeper questions of homosexuality that include the possibility that two people are deeply and honestly in love with each other and wish to share their lives with each other. Ignored is the evidence that some people simply don't find members of the opposite sex attractive and cannot bring themselves to seek relationships with anyone except members of their own gender.

Indeed, Holsinger ignores much in his "paper" presented to a religious cult. But it may be enough to get him the job of the nation's top physician.

Further Reading:

Ex-Surgeon General Says White House Hushed Him [Washington]
Homosexuality isn't Natural or Healthy []

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