I was involved in online discussions on two unrelated topics, and I realised that one of the problems was common to both. The average person is not aware of the incredible advances in medicine and technology in the past 50 years unless they have been employed in a specific field or have had a personal need. The latter covers health and medicine, but you may not have had everything explained to you.
In the medical field, genetics is something people rarely learn about unless they have a specific interest, or a family member or friend is diagnosed with an inherited disease. Even then, what they are concerned about is how this needs to be treated. What they don’t know is how far we have come in just 70 years. It was In 1951 that Watson and Crick decided to search for how a “gene” was constructed and in 1953 published a paper on the structure of DNA.
It took another 24 years before the first organism, a virus, was examined to learn its genetic code. In 1980 the Nobel Prize was awarded to the team of Sanger, Filbert and Borg for pioneering DNA sequencing methods. It then took another 10 years for the idea of sequencing the entire genetic code – the genome – of the human race. The Human Genome Project published the map of the human genome in 1995
Since then, there have been exponential increases in technological ability and human knowledge in the scientific community, but which has not been adequately communicated to the person in the street. Thanks to this it has been easy for wildly inaccurate information to spread across borders. It is human nature to ask “Why?” and to try to understand, but the answers people seek are not always easy to find. We have seen this over and over during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
People have been distrustful of a vaccine that had been created in what they thought was too short a period of time, but they did not realise that there had been such amazing advances in recent years that had not even been dreamed of in the days of polio or AIDS. Researchers did not have to study sick people and try to identify a virus in a laboratory – they were able to start with the DNA profile of the virus! This took years off of the necessary timeline. There are now several vaccines available and in use around the world. They are effective, they do work, they save lives – but a segment of society still chooses to believe the first thing they were told, and many of them die because of it.
Yes, words, and understanding what they mean, do matter.
© Stephanie Hunt-Crowley September 2021
First published on www.itsthatwomanagain.wordpress.com
All rights reserved. Stephanie Hunt Crowley E.I.