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letters | that peculiar hyphenate ‘doctor-politician’

True scientists are ones who dig for answers

In wondering why many members of Congress who are physicians behave so stupidly regarding science (“How can smart doctors be stupid politicians?” Op-ed, Aug. 26), Nathaniel P. Morris overlooks an important point: Physicians aren’t scientists.

They take lots of science courses, but by both training and inclination, physicians tend to be interested only in what the answer is to any given question. Physicians must absorb vast quantities of knowledge during their training, but that training rarely involves digging into how the answer was determined in the first place.

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More important, the training generally does not involve the deep reading, experimental design, data collection, and data analysis that go into investigating questions that do not yet have answers.

Scientific research is a different discipline, and physicians are not necessarily good at it. They must choose to look deeply at scientific research if they expect to understand it, just like everybody else. If they don’t, then they too can make stupid mistakes.

Abby Hafer


The writer teaches human anatomy and physiology at Curry College.

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