One of the great things about blogs is how a post about one topic can quickly morph into a good discussion about another. I bet early meetings of Ben Franklin's Junto (or later the American Philosophical Society) were similar to what happens when a good discussion gets hijacked by a barely related intriguing idea.
Anyway, Drugmonkey posted an informative update about the current presidential candidates' positions on science. If there is one topic that has been wrongly overlooked by candidates this election season, it is a proper airing of their perceptions about science and health research funding, the role that science should play in public policy decisions and how science education can be improved. Head over to this DM post for a digest of Science magazine's handling of the candidates' positions on science. Within the comments thread, is a sub-discussion about the lack of scientific evidence for the choices obstetricians make during delivery. The specific question that I argue has no scientific answer to is: Do fetal cardiac decelerations necessitate Caesarian section? I admit: the left turn was kind-of my fault,but my appeal to you, dear reader, is to find your way to this thread and chime in about the role of evidence in Western obstetrical care. (Read about the candidates' views, too!)
I have a love-hate relationship with the current emphasis on 'evidence based medicine.' It is certainly indicated, even needed in many cases. Enough of the studies are poorly designed or in conflict of interest, that it is hard to change a policy because some perspective made it through peer review. I suppose I would advocate a slow transition to evidence-based practice. Meta-analysis means more to me as a mode for medical decision making.
But bringing this full circle, what does it say about the role of science in society that one of the areas of life that is perceived of as being influenced the most by science (medicine), is actually not very scientific? If science cannot be practically applied to medicine, or more specifically birth, can it really be applied to policy decisions? It's not like there's any shortage of research material.