Ideology in science

"In science, ideology tends to corrupt; absolute ideology [corrupts] absolutely"
-Robert Nisbet

That's from Mukherjee's Emperor of All Maladies, a remarkably in depth and fascinating book on the history of cancer and our attempts to treat it. That quote starts out the section detailing the push towards more empirically grounded treatments and away from surgeon preference and beliefs. Like much of the rest of the book, it manages to be frustrating, compelling, inspirational, and heart breaking all at once.

I'm finishing it up now and recommend it highly, even if your interest in oncology (or the life sciences, for that matter) is only passing. Mukherjee's subtitle is "A Biography of Cancer," but it is as much a biography of oncology itself, and all the foibles, hyped enthusiasm, and ideologically-driven resistance to change come across as uncomfortably familiar to someone working across fields.

On a side note: is it just me or does scientific writing by medical doctors sound and feel fundamentally different from all other scientific writing? It might be the reliance on narrative and case study, or it might simply be the tone; regardless, it always feels very "doctor-y" to me...

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