We need science and medicine in the NHS, not astrology

[Oliver Price | News Sub Editor | UniVerse 9]

Opionions expressed here are the writer’s own and are not endorsed by Trident Media or Hertfordshire Students’ Union

David Tredinnick is the Conservative MP for Bosworth. He is also on the Health Committee and Science and Technology Committee in government. He also believes that “one day astrology will have a role to play in healthcare” and could be used to treat patients and reduce over crowding.

This is not good. Why is a man, whose scientific knowledge could be written on the back of a postage stamp, have any voice at all in matters relating to science? I’ll tell you why, it’s because science doesn’t matter to most politicians. Science isn’t opinion based, it’s not based in your feelings, it’s based on actual evidence, which can be repeated and verified. Astrology doesn’t have this.

Tredinnick compared those who disagree with him to racists: “They are also ignorant, because they never study the subject and just say that it is all to do with what appears in the newspapers, which it is not, and they are deeply prejudiced, and racially prejudiced, which is troubling.” Mr Tredinnick, in my opinion, is the troubling one; the fact that his not science (because it isn’t) can be represented on a scientific committee is a travesty, and the fact that he thinks his ideas are above scientific scrutiny is quite frankly pathetic.
Why isn’t someone like Julian Huppert, Lib Dem MP for Cambridge, on the science committee? The man has a PhD in biological chemistry, for heaven’s sake! But of course, MPs with scientific backgrounds, are actually a minority on these committees. In fact, only three out of the ten MPs on the science and technology committee actually have degrees in any kind of science, and one of those isn’t the chair (although in his defence, he did work as a technician).

Professor Brian Cox has the right idea, calling Tredinnick an “outlier on the spectrum of reason.” Tredinnick’s complete lack of scientific understanding is demonstrated in his interview with the Astrological Journal: “Astrology may not be capable of passing double-blind tests but it is based on thousands of years of observation.” A double blind trial is a common scientific test used in medicine where one group of people are given the real treatment, and the other group are given a placebo (essentially designed to trick the patient to believe they have the real treatment, so the psychological effects are nullified). Neither the doctors nor patients know if they have the real treatment, so when the results are released the actual potential treatment is tested against the fake one. Tredinnick rightly points out that astrology does not pass this test, but he just doesn’t care. Scientific rigour clearly doesn’t matter to him
Honestly, it’s quite scary that this man has the power to allocate health and science funding across the entirety of the UK. This man should be removed from his position on the science committee, and maybe be put in charge of a Committee for Rubbish And Poppycock, along with Gillian McKeith, Deepak Chopra, and John Edward. Not a parliamentary committee, just something that takes place in a Wendy House.

In fact, the entire science and technology committee should be completely reformed, with one simple requirement: You have to have a background in science or technology, preferably some kind of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) degree. Not a PhD in advanced quantum mechanics, but you should, at the very least, know how the scientific process works, which David Tredinnick clearly does not.

Oliver Price
Oliver Price

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We need science and medicine in the NHS, not astrology