On Thursday, Dr Renee Hoenderkamp gave a speech at the #Together’s ‘Can There Be Science Without Free Speech?’ conference held in Merseyside, United Kingdom.
Dr. Renée Hoenderkamp is an NHS doctor, Radio and TV presenter and medical writer based in North London. Known as Dr Renee, she is the resident General Practitioner for BBC Radio London and a Television presenter for BBC TV Inside Out. She is also a journalist for Pulse magazine and the resident General Practitioner for the Daily Express and Sunday Express.
“Science can flourish only in an atmosphere of free speech.” – Albert Einstein
“Science is a method of putting forward a hypothesis which is then tested and challenged and, if necessary, replaced with a new hypothesis,” said Dr. Hoenderkamp, “and we can only do that if we have free speech.”
In the middle-ages scientists were absolutely convinced that disease came from bad smells and only when that idea was challenged by scientists who discovered microbes could we then go on to discover that disease was caused by viruses, parasites and bacteria. Had they not challenged the main idea, the orthodoxy, the ideology as it was then, we would still be living in the dark ages and most people would be dying well before what we see as mid-life. Freedom of speech in the middle-ages was essential then as it is now.
Together with free speech, “transparency is key to good science. Freedom of speech and transparency are ideal bedfellows,” Dr. Hoenderkamp said. While freedom of speech allows us to challenge, learn and criticise it has to be done with transparency. Transparency allows us to know we are getting all the information we need in order to challenge. Without transparency how can we challenge and form new ideas and new answers to complex problems?
“If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” – George Orwell
“So, where are we today? We are grooming the science to fit the narrative. Lots of research and ideas that are being put forward that the media and our scientific journals are selecting what we can and can’t see. Personal interest and financial gain are at the heart of everything … freedom of speech has been gagged,” Dr. Hoenderkamp said.
To hear Dr. Hoenderkamp’s speech, watch the video below.