Chuck Harris MD
“…Medical science is content with the normal human body, and only seeks to restore it. But social science is by no means always content with the normal human soul; it has all sorts of fancy souls for sale….What is wrong is that we do not ask what is right.” G.K. Chesterton
“What’s Wrong With The World”
Chesterton published his query in 1910, but his questions and observations are timeless and can benefit us today if we pay attention. We, in the nascent twenty-first century may have different and new modes of communication, and transportation but mankind has not otherwise changed that much over the years. In the final analysis, it seems that we have a limited repertoire of responses to the challenges of life and which accounts for our historic tendency to repeat the mistakes of the past.
In Medicine, we know what a normal coronary angiogram looks like, and risking any intervention in the absence of disease would be malpractice. Social scientists on the other hand are not content with normal and see “disease” where there is none, proffering “cures” for non-existent ills. This can (and has) resulted in a treatment which has made the patient (who was not sick) now truly ill. The historically illiterate and malicious attempt to rewrite American History with “The1619 Project”, is an analogous example of social science malpractice. As columnist George Will has recently commented, “ it is maliciousness in the service of progressivisms’s agenda, which is to construct a thoroughly different nation on the deconstructed rubble of what progressives hope will be the nation’s thoroughly discredited past.”
The only thing worse in Medicine would be to mistake subtle symptoms of a life-threatening illness for a mundane minor ailment, such as treating a complaint of back pain as a musculoskeletal strain while missing the fatal diagnosis of a dissecting aortic aneurysm.
Yet in education, we have some very clear analogies. The high-tech world in which we now live requires that our students and schools be strong in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) if they are to become competent in the advances driving the fastest-growing sectors of modern economies. Yet while China has climbed to the top of the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) rankings in 2015 in STEM subjects, the US ranked a lowly 39th. The number one university in the world for engineering is no longer USA’s MIT, but Tsinghua University in China. Our education system is “fiddling while Rome is burning.” It seems we are too preoccupied with “pronoun policing”, gender-fluidity and indoctrination of a progressive agenda that has eclipsed our children’s’ need for critical education. We are majoring in minors, and missing the small therapeutic window we have to correct some major deficiencies in preparing the next generation to face a world for which they will be otherwise ill-suited.
The long-standing maxim in Medicine has been “primum non nocere” ; “First, do no harm.” Social scientists, educators and politicians would do well to adopt this credo, for the sake of us all.