More thoughts on science: Edward Taylor, M.D.

Wilmington’s March for Science was short on only one thing: time.

With 750 sign-carrying marchers, a packed auditorium, and an overly-ambitious roster of speakers, organizers opted to cut the pre-March program short. That left half a dozen speakers on the rally equivalent of the cutting room floor.

Marchers want to march.

Fortunately for us, Dr. Edward Taylor, a member of the Humanists and Freethinkers of Cape Fear, and Internist at New Hanover Country Medical Center, shares his intended remarks for the March rally here:

I have been asked to say a few words about the importance of science in medicine. Science is the backbone of medicine.

Modern Doctors practice what we call evidence based medicine. In other words, we don’t want to run tests or provide treatments for our patients unless there is solid evidence that those tests and treatments are safe and effective. And where do we get that evidence? Science!

Medicine and science go hand in hand. New scientific discoveries find their way into medicine quickly. Basically, doctors take scientific achievements and discoveries and translate them into medical tools and treatments to improve the lives of patients everywhere. In short, without scientific experimentation and scientific breakthroughs, there would be no modern medicine.

For example, when radiation was discovered, we used it to create x-rays. Then in combination with breakthroughs in computer science, we developed CAT Scans which changed diagnostics forever.

We developed the first antibiotics that save millions of lives thorough serendipitous scientific discovery.

How did we develop vaccines that have saved hundreds of millions of people from devastating illness and wiped out some illnesses like small pox?  Through science! And how did we prove that vaccines were effective and safe? Science!

Who knows what great medical breakthroughs are around the corner just waiting for the next scientific breakthrough? Without support for science, we may never know.

Why do we lean so heavily on science? Because science works! Because scientific results are repeatable and reliable. And when you have someone’s life in your hands there is no room for guess work. You need to be working with facts, and that is what science yields.

Science and scientific experimentation yield facts and truth better than anything else that humans have ever come up with.

But for science itself to survive, we need a public that values science and a government that supports scientific endeavors and a government that trusts and respects the facts that science yields.

Advancements in medicine will be slow to happen in a society that does not support science and scientists. We need to be spending more on science education and scientific research so that future generations can have the kind of scientific successes we have had and so that we will continue to be at the forefront of medical advancement.

Ed Taylor MD

Dr. Taylor is on the faculty at UNC School of Medicine – Chapel Hill and at New Hanover Regional Medical Center where he teaches young physicians and medical students. Dr. Taylor, a hospitalist and internist, received his MD from Hahnemann University, PA and completed his Internal Medicine residency at Bryn Mawr Hospital in Pennsylvania.