Saturday, March 14, 2009

AMA Med Students for Teaching Evolution

From the AMA-Medical Student Conference held in Orlando Nov 6-8 2008:

"Most controversially, the medical students passed a resolution calling for the AMA to support the teaching of the theory of evolution in public schools. Though many students supported the theory of evolution as an integral component of scientific thought, this resolution was debated extensively before it was passed, as critics questioned whether this resolution was in the scope of the AMA’s mission."


Doctors give orders. For that to work, they must be granted status and authority.

In a third world country, the status may be enough. But in civil, democratic society, people need to understand the rationale behind the order --not entirely, not in all its details, of course. But they need a means of deciding, "that makes sense" verses, "I should get a second opinion."

There must exist a certain level of scientific literacy within a community else it will be overrun with pseudo-doctors and pseudo-science. Concepts fundamental to the biological sciences, such as genotypes, phenotypes, genomes, gene frequency, natural selection, and epidemiology, are part of that basic literacy. An awareness of the scientific process and an appreciation for the difference between a scientific consensus and a political consensus are other components of basic science literacy.

Presently, the time allowed for doctors and patients to communicate is hardly sufficient for real medicine. Add to that the need to debunk competing pseudo-medicine and the job becomes impossible.

Science literacy among our patients is relevant to the practice of medicine. So good on the AMA medical students!

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