Question 5: Science and cultural selectivity

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33i7vnaK6w4

Once again, I have managed to move my mouth at a different time to the words (I know, it’s a real skill – took years to learn. Actually if anyone knows what I’m doing wrong please let me know). It concerns whether we can pick and choose in science. Whether we can reject something because it is culturally unacceptable. Enjoy!

5 thoughts on “Question 5: Science and cultural selectivity

  1. I (Jayne) think the study o f culture and culturally-related variables is a big part of science. Cultural specific traits should be recognized and respected, but manipulated, especially by media to create stereotypes. There is a fine line between being culturally sensitive and neglecting the importance scientific finding on culturally sensitive issues. For instance, certain ethnicities in the world are more biologically prone to cardiovascular disease, diabetes or pulmonary diseases. This issue could be culturally sensitive in the way that it may imply a negative association between the health issue and a culture. Stereotypes may arise from manipulations of the scientific data for non-scientific political or media-related propaganda. However, the stereotypes did not come from science, it came from certain peoples manipulation of scientific data; this does not discredit the importance of studying culturally sensitive theories, or culture-specific phenomena. For instance, I (Jayne) heard from a podcast called “White Coat Black Art” that certain researches showed that Asian immigrants who lived in the northern part of Asia were more likely to suffer from gestational diabetes after immigrating to North America, especially if they moved to a lower latitude. One could manipulate this scientific finding and use it for political agendas such as restricting immigration volume from Asia, or increase expectations in all aspects from immigrant candidates. However, this does not mean the research study should be discarded or regarded with less respect. This research study may very well indicate a physiological change that could help health promotion and education in immigrants from Asia.
    To me, science is neutral, and it can never detach from culture, but cultural values should not stand in the way of scientific research. In fact, being overly culturally sensitive may prevent marginalize groups of people from equitable allocation of resources.
    I (Rebecca) strongly agree with Jayne’s points, science must be neutral and must always remain so. It cannot be biased, scientists got to great lengths, as previously discussed within the past questions, to formatively assess their data and prove their findings wrong. If the findings from reports show that the northern part of Asia are more likely to develop gestational diabetes if they migrate then this information has been formatively assessed before publishing. When these facts are used to propagate political propaganda then the data is being used inappropriately and it can also be argued perhaps that the viewer of the data is either misreading the information or manipulating it to their own advantage. Why does the media want to turn this information into a shocking story? Why do politicians have to manipulate data to their advantage? Why do humans feel the need to please everyone when the facts are simple? If you live in northern Asia and move to America you have a higher chance of developing gestational diabetes. They, if presented with the information should have the choice whether they still would like to move. Not politicians in some office should make that decision for them and label it as ‘restrictions to migration’. I argue facts are facts and we must live with the knowledge of them, make a decision and move on.

  2. So, should science be “culturally sensitive”? What a silly question! Of course not! Well, at least that was my first thought. Then I began thinking…are we talking about “is” or “should be”. Well of course it is. Science is a human endeavour and we humans are raised and live in various cultures, cultures involved in scientific research. I would argue that our culture determines the kinds of research we partake in, the kinds of research that gets funded and the kinds of research that receive media attention. For example, here in Canada (North America really), the types of research that seem to get the most money and media attention involve scientific questions, specifically medical issues and environmental issues lately.

    Is this the way it “should ” be? Hmmm, well who sets the rules? Society? And by extension then each culture? Or each culture within a society? Or just the majority culture? Well practically that is the way it is. I think scientific research does reflect the interests and values of the dominant culture in a particular society. Should it be this way?

  3. Science should not have to be culturally sensitive, but I think it is
    important that people are aware of their “positioning” i.e., social,
    economic, cultural, geographical, etc etc etc, and realize that these
    determinants influence the opinions/beliefs that they form! What I
    mean is, wouldn’t it be cool if a person could say “Yes, I choose not
    to believe in evolution, only because my religion tells me that it
    went down another way, and in order to be pious, faithful, moral,
    whatever, I need to believe it!” I think it’s fine that the person
    acknowledges this, and perhaps even admits that it may not be
    rational, but the prevailing factor is that every person has the free
    will to choose how they make decisions. This includes what they will
    depend on t0 guide their decision-making, and if that means deciding
    against science, then so be it. But it remains that people can choose
    to believe in science (in this case, believe in human’s evolution from
    primates). Science, itself, doesn’t need to be culturally sensitive,
    because what I propose is an environment for acceptance of a
    scientific ideal regardless of whether the culture accepts it or not.
    In other words, culture and science don’t really need to think about
    each other, they just exist, potential influences to us all.

    So obviously in our society, culture and science mix, and we have
    muddled it all up to make them dependent on one another. So my
    thought is still, NO! Science does not have to be culturally
    sensitive, but it shouldn’t annoyingly culturally independent. Like
    in the old movie “The God Must Be Crazy,” I don’t think the airplane
    pilot should have thrown out the coke bottle, because maybe those
    people didn’t want to know what science had to offer. Ignorance is
    bliss, the more I come to realize the more I progress in my nursing
    program. In conclusion, I think that science has a right to be
    present, and be revealed to all people, as long as they are ready to
    accept what science is offering them, regardless of their cultural
    positioning.

  4. Here is a comment from Kayleigh – who has been having trouble accessing the blog.

    Science vs Society and culture is a huge battle that is rarely approached today due to tradition and people not wanting to question the BIG R within society that is religion!

    Religion offers rules, morals and beliefs which stand very much pre-historically written in time. They give people opinion and personality and value within life however have these true beliefs and rules died off with the dinosaurs? Many ‘rules’ are broken or forgotten by people today and are used only at times of convenience- say when facing the evolutionary theory!!

    Science offers answers supported by evidence, technical advances, the potential to save a planet we are killing as a world and, yes of course, the evolutionary theory. People will accept that Mohammed was a messenger to God or that Noah built an ark filled with two of every animal or even that there is a 4 armed elephant God, none of which has evidence to support their ideas. The evolutionary theory has nonnegotiable evidence and yet people will deny its potential. Is this because it challenges the unknown? Maybe it is because it poses the unknown ? So would it take belief to convince people that it is real?

    People opposing scientific theory all want cures for cancer, renewable energy and a stop to global warming and yet the scientists behind these all want belief that they can create cures, find renewable energy sources and to find a way of stopping global warming. Even the hardest hearted scientist needs to have morals and values and belief to push them to explore and invent as the want to get better as science has to come from somewhere.

    This leads me to conclude that science should not be culturally sensitive and should challenge some of the more protected areas in society but should not cancel people’s right to believe or have an opinion as these help form personal things like character and emotion; science makes being human possible but society makes humans into people. The existence of the two together is needed so that each can push one another on into progression, be it hand in hand or at loggerheads!

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