Episode 86 – 27th May 2011


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Science Careers (2:03) by James O’Malley & Liz Lutgendorff (ft Science Minister David Willets MP!)
Web Wars (16:38) by James Firth
Religion In The Surgery (25:30) by Luke Edwards
Religion In The Surgery II (32:16) by Salim Fadhley (ft Naomi Phillips)
Dead Bodies (40:17) by Simon Howard
The Daily Mail (47:12) by Will Parbury
Lady Gaga (54:52) by Martyn Norris
L’espirit de l’escalier (62:11) by Alex Gilbert

Follow-Up Links:

10 thoughts on “Episode 86 – 27th May 2011

  1. I worry that Luke may have interpreted Jame’s typically tongue-in-cheek anchoring as editorial undermining of his report. I for one am glad to have a new talented contributor, and I would be surpised if both James and Salim aren’t equally glad.

    My opinion is that it is an issue of power imbalance rather than religious freedom. A medical consultation is not a social event, and faith should not be introduced except at the request of the patient. An example scenario:

    Patient is under some psychological stress due to issues connected with faith. Together, the patient and the doctor explore options, and conclude that finding out more about a religion or religions would be a helpful thing to do. Doctor asks if the patient would like to be referred to a course about Christianity, patient agrees, Doctor mentions 2 or 3 possibilities including Alpha.

    This has nothing to do with the doctor’s freedom of religion, it is about appropriate counselling and referral technique.

    Of course you don’t throw the book at GPs with a genuine concern for their patients making honest mistakes. It isn’t the GMC trying to send a message in this case, though. The doctor is making media appearances defending what he himself claims to be a pattern of this sort of behaviour.

  2. Oh no – my comments were not intended as an attack on Luke’s report. I was just saying stupid things like I always do. I’m looking forward to Luke’s next contribution.

    As ever the podcast is essentially predicated on “we all agree on a baseline set of values, now lets have a debate in that context” – which is why I like it when we host conflicting reports.

  3. You need not worry, Drew and James. I apologise if I may have given the impression that I was offended. Far from it – I’ve actually got quite a thick skin when it comes to stuff like this, so the fact that my report conflicted slightly with Salim’s really is absolutely fine by me. I’m not one to shy away from sticking my neck out and voicing opinions others might not share.

    On my blog, I just wanted to re-contextualise what the crux of my message was, as I felt it may have been a rather woolly or meandering point I was trying to make and I didn’t want Pod Delusion listeners thinking that I am anti-secularism, or pro-evangelism, or anything which I am most certainly not. I was just trying to cover all sides of the particular debate and worried that some comments outside of my report may have given the impression that I was totally antithetical to Salim. In my view, there is a lot of what he and Naomi argued which I do agree with. It’s all a matter of semantics, I guess.

    All that’s different is our conclusion to whether it’s morally rebukable or whether it’s not, I suppose. Maybe I was just reading too much into it. This is a fantastic episode, and I’m very thankful for being allowed to do a piece for you guys. I’m a big fan of The Pod Delusion, so I am familiar with the tongue-in-cheek nature of the reportage. I did anticipate James would make a few jokes and would be disappointed if he didn’t continue to do so, so please don’t think I thought you were attacking me. If anything, I was just worried that you might think my piece was ill-conceived simply because I was at odds with Salim on a handful of points. That’s all I really wanted to clear up.

  4. On the religious doctor debate, my concern is that the patient is in a vulnerable position and may feel uncomfortable in expressing their own religious belief. Many will view the doctor as an authority figure and may be inclined to go along with suggestions for religious advice, etc. After all, most people will view the doctor as having their (the patient’s) own best interest at heart.

  5. The essential fact for me is that Dr Scott (and his partners at Bethseda) seem to have as a matter of habit introduced religious topics into the consulting room. It was not a single casual remark, or an accidental slip of the tongue. This was policy.

    He could see absolutely nothing wrong with “just talking about god” as part of his NHS duties and even after he was warned by the GMC that his actions were wrong he continued to do so, appearing in the Telegraph utterly defiant of the ruling.

    It would be so obviously out of order if he were “just talking about allah” or “just talking about L. Ron. Hubbard” or even “just talking about David Icke”. For me it’s no more acceptable to be introducing Jesus than any of these less popular religious beliefs.

    Dr. Scott seems like a pleasant enough chap to me – he does seem to be getting some very bad advice from the Christian Legal Center who seem to be keen to sacrifice this doctor’s career in order to make a point.

  6. OK, the science careers thing:

    There seemed to be an assumption that it’s a bad thing if there is a pyramid in academic science careers, with a great many jobs for junior post-docs and very few jobs for professors.

    I would question that assumption. Having such a pyramidal structure would be a bad thing if all scientists stayed in academia. However, if all scientists stayed in academia, career progression would be the least of our worries: the private sector needs good quality scientists, and without the private sector, there are no taxes to pay for academia. I would see post-doc positions as providing training for scientists, who then may decide to stay in academia, or may move into the private sector, where the training they have received as a post-doc allows them to make a valuable contribution.

    Now, I’m not saying that there is definitely no problem with academic careers. It’s almost 2 decades since I left academia (left a post-doc position to work in the private sector, to be specific), so I’m not really qualified to judge. All I’m saying is that the existence of a pyramid per se does not strike me as sufficient evidence that there is a problem.

  7. I am curious if Alex has a written copy of L’espirit de l’escalier we heard in this episode that he would be willing to post or link to?

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