Seminar in Composition
Final Project Proposal
November 19, 2014
In my final project, I am planning on addressing the issue of bias in scientific research, focusing on Lewontin’s criticism in Biology as Ideology. My project will be based on a previous blog entry of mine. I will stem off of this entry to analyze more deeply how the structure of the science hierarchy impacts the type of and effectiveness of modern scientific research. My argument will be that the current structure of science as an “industry” is hindering advancements in technology and knowledge that could improve the quality of life and longevity of individuals and as society as a whole. Humans as individuals and as a race need to redefine the qualifications and motives behind scientific research in order to survive and thrive. We should do this by eliminating the current structure of the scientific industry and replacing it with a system that is not based solely on wealth and connections to powerful people within the system.
This project will be an extension on the blog entry in which we were asked to analyze an article through the ideas of Lewontin. The article I chose was about Latina women who are thought to be at less of a risk for breast cancer due to a certain gene they possess that others of different races do not. I analyzed this article to show the problems that researchers didn’t address during the study that yielded the results. In my essay, I focused heavily on the misinterpretation of what causes cancer to be less likely. While the idea of multiple causes is interesting, I plan to eliminate that aspect of the essay to focus more heavily on the political and social side of the issue. Instead of delving into the scientific data, I will address what motivates scientists to do specific research on some things but not others.
My argument will begin by analyzing the general hierarchy of medical institutions that employ scientists. I will discuss how the desire for mobility and economic gain tends to promote certain kinds of research and sweep others under the carpet. After establishing the narrow frame through which scientists must operate, I will connect it to the limitations that exist in scientific research, including funding and available technology. This will address the problems that lesser known scientists have with doing research. This would be a place to address a possible counterargument. People may say that the system serves to flesh out those scientists who are not serious about research or who are incapable of doing quality research. I will confront this by arguing that the cure to a disease or the answer to global warming could be hidden inside the head of a doctor that does not have the access to the money or social connections needed to produce credible studies. After this, I will shift my focus onto more specific cases, such as the Latina cancer gene, that show how scientists are thought to be making progress, but are actually just gathering arbitrary information that they don’t know how to use to produce any real positive outcome. By stating how science is limited, I am defending my position that the system should be changed so that positive outcomes can be achieved.
When it comes to the importance of my argument, there are several reasons why it is worth talking about. We live in a world plagued by cancer and disease. With those things comes heartbreak and pain, and as humans, we are always looking to reduce those things that hurt us. The slow advancement of treatments and cures should worry everyone. Their families, friends, or even they can be impacted by sickness at any moment, so people should be concerned with what is happening in the scientific research that could potentially save themselves or their loved ones in the future. Also, pure human curiosity is within most people. That rush that you get seeing a space rocket launch should be enough to make you want to go further and see what other possibilities are out there. My project will address the needs and wants of the public and describe why the current system of scientific research is not conducive to those needs and wants.
Giambrone, D., Rao, B., Esfahani, A. and Rao, S. (2014). Obstacles hindering the mainstream practice of teledermatopathology. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 71(4), pp.772-780.
This journal article will be used to show how potential advancements are being hindered by the hierarchy surrounding scientific research.
Lewontin, R. (1992). Biology as ideology. New York, NY: HarperPerennial.
Natural Hormones, (2014). High Estrogen Levels | Natural-Hormones.net. [online] Available at: http://www.natural-hormones.net/estrogen-high-levels.htm [Accessed 21 Oct. 2014].
O'Connor, A. (2014). Genetic Variant May Shield Latinas From Breast Cancer. The New York Times. [online] Available at: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/10/20/genetic-variant-may-shield-latinas-from-breast-cancer/?_php=true&_type=blogs&module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C%7B%222%22%3A%22RI%3A12%22%7D&_r=0 [Accessed 21 Oct. 2014].
This article will be used to show how science is earning knowledge but not results.
Undsci.berkeley.edu, (2014). Who pays for science?. [online] Available at: http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/0_0_0/who_pays [Accessed 19 Nov. 2014].
The information about bias in scientific research will help me make the point about brilliant but not well connected scientists being kept out of researching.
· scientific world becoming more like an industry
· focus on money and connections rather than skill and actual advancement
· we can increase longevity and quality of life by getting rid of this industrial hierarchical system
o room for more studies and a wider variety of studies that focus on issues that aren’t in the mainstream realm of thinking
· Thesis: The current structure of science as an “industry” is hindering advancements in technology and knowledge that could improve the quality of life and longevity of individuals and as society as a whole. Humans as individuals and as a race need to redefine the qualifications and motives behind scientific research in order to survive and thrive.
· Layout of structure of scientific hierarchy
· Process scientists must go through to get funding
· What equipment is needed
· Connections needed to pursue research
· Explain how the structure defined in body 1 doesn’t allow for some research to get done
· Evidence of theories going untested due to inadequate resources and support from donors
o What these theories could lead to
§ Discoveries that could help cure cancer rather than just learn new things about it
§ New/more efficient means of treatment
§ Technology that could help further other research if it was allowed to be tested
· Article on teledermatopathology and how it can be used to make testing in hospitals quicker but isn’t taking off because there is inadequate funding to test it up to standards
· Outline potential counterargument
o People might say that the hierarchical system actual defends the validity of research because it keeps those who are unqualified from messing up studies and wasting resources
· Rebuttal of counterargument
· Go into history to find examples of lesser known scientists who made large contributions to science
· Answers to major questions or inquiries into completely new lines of thought could be within this lower level of the hierarchy, but will never make their way out unless the system is altered
· Discuss why the system doesn’t allow for lesser known scientists to build themselves up in the hierarchy –if you don’t know someone important, you won’t be able to get funding or lab time, which means you can’t conduct studies that will make you more respected in the scientific community, so you cannot move up the hierarchy
· If there was no hierarchical system in medicine, it would be easier for new discoveries to made and for new cures or treatments to be found
· Even those who have the ability (through connections or wealth) to move up the hierarchy and conduct studies are unable to work to their full potential because they have to worry about maintaining their position or moving up
· Must please those who fund them, so their work is limited to what a specific company or individual would like
o This is not necessarily beneficial for society as a whole, but for the individual or company who is funding them
o Many research areas gone undiscovered because researchers have to stay within the confines of what their donors want
· Scientists also concerned with making money for themselves
o They will look for the solutions that give them the best chance of making money or gaining a higher position
· All of this limits the advances that can be made and keep us from discovering things that could help improve the quality of life for society as a whole