Friday, February 27, 2004

Difficult to be dispassionate

A great many people have reacted to my Small Times column from last November, and subsequent NanoBot posts, that used the alleged MMR/autism link to illustrate a larger point about the disconnect between scientists and "consumers" of science. It's an emotional issue, since it involves my child and the children of the parents who have written to me, making it difficult to remain dispassionate. I certainly understand and respect the views of parents who have reached different conclusions than I have. A wide-ranging discussion on the autism/MMR issue can be found here, as well as many other sites.

I've been quoting nanoscientist Carlo Montemagno a great deal these days, but let me go back to my interview with him one more time for some words that I find appropriate. He's talking about the nanoparticles/environment issue -- and I realize the analogy does not work on all levels -- but I found the sentiment appropriate, nontheless.

    Me: How affected are you, if at all, by public perception of nanotechnology – maybe some of the things that you read in the popular press that may be wrong or used to further somebody's agenda?

    Montemagno It does have an effect on me. It always has an effect on me. I work really hard at trying to educate people and also being honest. People are worried about nanoparticles, in Europe mostly now. Immediately what ends up happening is that people who don't know anything, they speculate that it's deadly. Scientists step back and say, 'Oh, that's not a problem at all.'

    You know what the answer is? We don't know. It hasn't been studied and we don't know.

    I think what has to happen is an honest dialogue. Say, 'Look, I don't know the answer. There may be a problem, may not be a problem, we have to study it. We don't know the answers. You going out off the deep end and saying it's a problem without any data is just as wrong as me telling you there is no problem with no data.


You Click, You Buy

Asperger Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism?

Elijah's Cup: A Family's Journey into the Community and Culture of High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome

Asperger Syndrome, the Universe and Everything

Asperger's Syndrome: A Guide for Parents & Professionals

Asperger Syndrome: A Practical Guide for Teachers

Eating an Artichoke: A Mother's Perspective on Asperger Syndrome

No comments: