Thursday, May 16, 2019

The dominant ideology dares to censor science

In one of the most read and controversial posts in this blog, What science says about human life, which had 92 comments in its Spanish version (so far the blog record), I explained how, for purely ideological reasons, supporters of abortion close the eyes to what science says, which asserts clearly (and has done so for a century and a half) that the life of every human being begins in the fertilization of the ovum by the sperm. Faced with this, abortionists insist on making false statements like these: a fetus is only a part of the mother’s body; a fetus is not a human being; a fetus is nothing but a set of cells (so what are the abortionists?).

A cover of The Lancet
Denouncing one more step towards the ideological control of scientific research, the British journal The Lancet, second in impact factor in the field of Medicine, has published an article accusing certain abortion NGOs and the government of the United Kingdom of interference in scientific research.
The scientists signing the article are part of a team working for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which undertook the evaluation of a project aimed at reducing deaths due to unwanted pregnancies in 14 countries in Africa and Asia (i.e. the number of deaths caused by induced abortions). The project, which was allocated £140 million in funding, was sponsored by the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) and carried out by two major NGOs working on international reproductive health (an euphemism hiding the word abortion, although those organizations don’t hide it in their websites).
The problem arose when the results of the evaluation made by the university team annoyed the two abortion NGOs, who using pressure and threats managed to prevent the publication of a series of scientific articles detailing the results of the evaluation, after those papers had been accepted by magazines in the field. Faced with protests and accusations from the two NGOs, the university opened an investigation about the work of the evaluation team, which concluded that the team had worked correctly, although they were ordered to keep anonymity about the participation of the two large abortion NGOs and the countries where they had worked, which in practice gave these companies the power to decide which research results could be published and which could not.
The team appealed the decision, for it amounted to establishing censorship by the abortion NGOs on the results of their research, but the DFID (a department of the United Kingdom government) dismissed their appeal. Subsequently, they were allowed to publish a single article, but there are still many results that have not been made public, which has led two of the researchers to write the complaint article in The Lancet.
The authors point out that this is not just their case: many other researchers find themselves in the same situation when the results of their work collide with the dominant ideology. Let’s look at their own words:
Numerous colleagues have described similar forms of interference at different stages of the research process, resulting in “tick-box evaluation” designed to please donors, reports that have been “shelved” or “embargoed”, and “bartering” about which findings can be published. Often such interference is couched in the language of ethics; other times donors and their implementing partners attack the rigour of research methods or discredit researchers’ interpretations as “naive” to pressure them to suppress findings and analyses that cast programmatic strategies or outcomes in unfavourable light.
In another paragraph they say the following:
Censorship is a strong word. But what else can you call it when a donor that commissions a research-based evaluation of one of its major global health programmes instructs the researchers to omit important results from their final report? Or puts pressure on them to change the tenor of their conclusions? Or when a staff member of an implementing partner that is being evaluated threatens the reputation of the researchers and their university if they publish negative findings?
These paragraphs speak for themselves.

The same post in Spanish
Thematic Thread on Science in General: Previous Next
Thematic Thread on Politics and Economy: Previous Next
Manuel Alfonseca


  1. Censorship is a vital component optimizing Cultural Marxism, not just in the abortion debate, but also Global Warming/Climate Change, granting/refusing permission for Archeological digs which may disprove points crucial to CM, and throughout the Social Sciences(the two most blatant examples, Boasian Anthropology and Freudian Psychology, are nearly completely dismissed now, but other fraudulent strains persist, nurtured with grant money, unchallenged due to points brought up in the article blog).

  2. ...amounted to establishing censorship of the abortion NGOs --> should be --> censorship BY the abortion NGOs

  3. I always read your posts with interest. In your last post: “The dominant ideology dares to censor science” I was pleased to hear that, in our world, opinions that differ from the dominant ideology can still be heard, and can even find a forum in such an august place as “The Lancet”. In so many places deviant ideologies are not accepted at all and may even lead to prosecution and even extermination! e.g. very recently Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist.
    In your last post you refer to an earlier one (from 2014): “This is what science says about human life” which I also read with interest and that raised some questions with me.
    It is indeed amazing that who we are is determined to a great extent by our genes. We have to recognize of course that conception in itself is a haphazard process and may give surprising results: apart from some physical resemblance, we may have very little in common with either of our parents. We also have to recognise that external effects directly affect the further development. The health of the mother, her food (if at all), her mental condition, the medication or drugs she takes, the weather….. The genetic endowment may remain the same, but the result may vary considerably depending on these external factors.

    I have some difficulty in you stating that birth is not a discontinuity in the development of mammals from conception to death. But birth is not just the cutting of the umbilical cord! At that very moment the individual is exposed to the outside world, it sees light and dark, hears noises and has to interpret these. It has to find its food and first of all: it has to breathe. In the old days, if it did not immediately start breathing, it would be smacked on its bottom to make it scream and breathe! The fact that the mortality of babies is up to 10 times higher than average would in my opinion point at a discontinuity.
    In many places abortion is restricted to the first detection of heart beat. The rationale would probably that this is the start of life or at least a discontinuity.
    The start of life is not so much science as much as semantics, definition or opinion.
    Is coming of age a discontinuity? Some may say yes some may say no.

    How do you fit people who are the result of IVF in your thinking. The moment such embryo, only eight cells I’ve been told, attaches itself to a womb would perhaps be a suitable way to define the point in time where its life starts. What about the unsuccessful results of the IVF exercise? Are they alive, even when frozen? I am not so sure that science does have an answer. Science, in my opinion, does not give answers, it tries to observe and record these observations, may correlate them, may even predict results but never gives an unequivocal answer. It poses a hypothesis that can be either confirmed or disputed at any time and, of course, it may lead to a dominant opinion or ideology that, in our world, can be challenged and disputed.

    1. You pose a few interesting questions in your comment. I'll try to answer them.

      a) About the beginning of life: there is no problem here, there is a scientific consensus since 150 years ago. The life of an individual starts at the zygote, just after fecundation of the egg-cell by the sperm cell. The zygote is the first stage of a living being where it has the same genetic endowment it will have during the remainder of its life. It doesn't matter that it's one-cell, there are many one-cell living beings and nobody has ever doubted they are alive. The scientific criterion to signal the start of individual life is the appearance of a new genetic endowment. IVF does not change anything, it doesn't matter that the egg-cell and the sperm are fused on the uterus wall or in a test tube. In both cases, attachment takes place a few divisions later.

      b) You suggest that the first heart beat should be considered the beginning of life. Then is the embryo dead all the time before that? Remember, the opposite of alive is dead. And it can't obviously be dead, if it's developing and changing all the time.

      c) You are right that there are many changes along development, there are many "firsts." The first cell division; the first developmental segmentation; the first appearance of the morula stage; the first appearance of the blastula stage; the first appearance of the gastrula stage; the first development of a neuron; the first heart beat; the first time the liver functions; and so on. Yes, the moment of birth is the first time the lungs work (breathing). Why should this be different from the first work of any other organ? And, as you mention, changes don't stop there: you later have the first time the baby speaks a word; the first time it stands up; the first time it walks; the first memory; and so on. But all those changes are not "discontinuities", one instant before the "first," the embryo, or the fetus, or the baby, was physically indistinguishable from what it is one instant after the "first." There are "firsts", but there are no sudden jumps in anatomy.

      d) You ask: "Are they alive, even when frozen?" Yes, for the alternative would be for them to be dead, and they obviously aren't dead, since they can be defrozen and come back to life. They are in suspended animation, but they are alive.

      e) You are right, science observes and records observations, but then it also gives answers. What else are scientific theories? Newton's theory gave answers to the question: why the three Kepler's laws are in effect? And then it proceeded to make successful predictions, such as the discovery of Neptune. One scientific observation is the fact that, once dead, a living organism cannot get back to life. What I have sketched before are inductions from this fact, which may provide some answers to your questions.

      f) You are also right, genetic endowment is just one part of what we are. We are also influenced by the environment, physical and psychical. But our genetic endowment is a very important part, and it is what we have in common during our whole life, while all environmental effects are intrinsecally various. So it is not surprising that biologist have decided that what we have all our life is what defines our individuality. We can't say this even about our atoms, which change completely about once every decade.

      I hope this answers some of your questions.

    2. By the way, it would be nice if, rather than leaving "Unknown" (the default identification) you gave any other name. If everybody identified as "Unknown," it would be hard to know whether I was speaking with one person or with several.