As soon as I opened Richards Harris’s book, I had come to a shocking realization. Harris was stating about how far technology has advanced yet no “real” advances have been made on diseases like, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s,e.t.c. “When you read about advances in medicine, it often seems like long-awaited breakthroughs are just around the corner for cancer, Alzheimer’s, stroke, osteoarthritis and countless less common diseases. But it turns out we live in a world with a awful lot of corners” (pg 1)
“Technology for research labs has progressed at an astonishing pace” (pg 2). These two pages burst my bubble on how I viewed scientific research. I guess the media portrays scientist making extraordinary breakthroughs, every day coming closer to curing a disease. I see and still see them as heroes trying to fix our broken world.
While in this preface, I come to the realization that yes, while science is still progressing it is going through some major step backs. Harris, adds on how far technology has advanced. “Scientist can custom-design mice and engineer them to stand in for humans in laboratory experiments” (pg 2). This reminds me of how Sandra mentioned in her introductory post “Corrupt research”, how she would be interested in learning how animals that are being tested on are affected. I decided to do some research. I went to a website called EuropePMC.org in which I found an article on animal testing. It talked about the alternatives to animal testing. For example, posing the question differently to avoid the usage of animal. This made me feel better since I have come to the realization that animals are often put through unnecessarily pain.
Moving on to Chapter one, Harris interviews C. Glenn Begley on his work to find which studies are true and which are not. “Of the fifty-three original exiting studies that Begley put to the test, he could reproduce just six. Six. That’s barely one out of ten.” (pg 9). This quote and reading Brenda’s post, “What is behind the lies?” on how a Scientist made a false statement and published it on purpose, made me go back and reflect on how I viewed scientists and the way they publish things. Whenever I buy something or am I going to take a medication it always makes me feel better knowing it has been backed up by research. It scares me to think about how many “lies” we have been told to believe in that we can’t really trust.
Harris writes about how Begley and his team were not really “treated as heroes”. “When they spoke at conferences, Begely said, scientist would stand up and tell them ‘that we are doing the scientific community a disservice that would decrease research funding and so on'”. (pg 10) This quote brought to my attention as too how much scientist are pressured to have “breakthroughs”. As similarly stated in Rigor Mortis’s preface, no scientist should have to chose to whether or not do the work right or keep his job.