We live in a society of qualified specialists. There are certificates and degrees for every imaginable thought.
You are not encouraged to think these thoughts without the appropriate qualification.
Education is highly valued. We (as a society) aim for critical thinkers and independence.
Until we don’t.
A few years back, I attended a conference for Science Communicators. I was presenting my Masters work at this very important conference. It was held at a University. A place of critical thinkers and highly intelligent and motivated people.
Science Communication is a field that has emerged to fill the gap between Scientists (us) and the general population (them). Apparently there is a great divide, between these groups. Watch an episode of Big Bang Theory for a fix on this dichotomy.
Now, the apparent purpose of Science Communication is to provide ‘them’ with the means of appreciating science. At first I thought the purpose was about bringing science to ‘them’, about understanding and encouraging critical thinking.
But I was wrong.
It is about ‘Trust me, I am a scientist’. The scientists do the thinking, the people accept it and follow the dogma of the day.
Scientists are the new priests. Where once the Church held the knowledge and the illiterate People relied on them for guidance, we now have Science.
People, however, are no longer illiterate. Many people have achieved ‘higher education’ and are critical thinkers. They can seek information (from several and various qualified people) and weigh it up with their personal circumstances, to make an Informed Decision.
For the most part, there isn’t a problem. But sometimes, these critical thinkers do something that offends the status quo:
They ask questions.
Oh the Audacity!
If you ask questions and then draw different conclusions, you upset the apple cart.
This is infuriatingly evident when it comes to pregnancy, birth and parenting.
During pregnancy, there is a standard of care. If you decide not to play this game, you can be ‘risked out‘ of certain options or refused care completely. It is important to find a care provider that supports you and your choices. This is also why it is important to be upfront about your choices and circumstances.
If during birth it becomes apparent that your care providers are not actually ‘on message’, it takes a lot of energy to focus on your own.
Immediately post birth, there are certain procedures that require your consent…and this is where the dogma part really hits.
Many women/couples do not realise they are required to consent. They are told these procedures happen, that they must sign it off, but rarely are they encouraged to make INFORMED consent. (see here for more about The Trouble with Consent)
There are three such procedures in the Australian standard-care package for immediately after birth:
1. Vitamin K (orally or injected)
2. Hep B Vaccine injection
3. “heel prick test”
And then the next major consent requiring procedure is the ‘childhood immunisation schedule’.
Each of these “requires consent”, this means you CAN refuse some, all or none.
The trouble with this dogmatic science is that if you do QUESTION (i.e. you may yet consent, you just want more information) the procedures, your concerns may be brushed off or treated in a way that basically says:
If you do go on to refuse any of these procedures you can face what is essentially the modern equivalent of a mob.
You will be blamed, by default, if a problem arises (for you or anyone in a 100 kilometre radius).
Ostracised and marginalised, it can be difficult when you decide to go against the grain, but rest assured:
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
When making an informed decision, we have to consider our personal circumstances. This means that it is possible for different conclusions.
Science is actually about interpretation, it is about asking questions and weighing up the evidence.
Science is understanding natural processes. Technology is often confused as being science. It is informed by science, but it not The Science. image by bellabirth
It is NOT about accepting the status quo because it is the done thing. Just as it is not about rejecting the status quo without thought. It is about being able to make an informed decision about your own body, because you are intelligent and able, not because you are ‘qualified’.