24 May 2006

Do i whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiIIIIIIIne?

While browsing the always enlightening Panda's Thumb, I followed a link from there to the equally fine Aetiology and finally a weird editorial on MSNBC.

First, the subtitle says, "Evolution debate doesn't help doctors confronting difficult medical decisions." I think most people with some biological knowledge can immediately think of one case where understanding of evolution would inform a medical decision: do you prescribe antibiotics or not? If you understand evolution, you're more likely to understand why using antibiotics willy-nilly is a bad idea. Antibiotics kill bacteria -- most of them. Some, by natural variation, resist the antibiotics, maybe taking more to kill them. They survive and reproduce. Congratulations! You've created a selection pressure on bacteria that leaves us with antibiotic resistant strains in the long run.

In the first paragraph describes how he was thinking about this as his kid graduated from med school. While I'm always happy to hear about a student completing achievement, it's not at all clear why physicians and medicine is getting dragged in here so forcibly. Tara Smith already pointed out in Aetiology, scientists are not here just to teach medical students, gunfunit.

He wants scientists to talk about values. Hey! I did that a couple of months ago. And I will argue to him that the value of honesty requires that biologists continue to "whine" about intelligent design: because a lie left unchallenged gains the perception of truth.

Besides, I'd prefer to think that I whinge.

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