The tradition of science

The tradition of science… After world wars or similar periods there are some countries which rise again out of their ashes. Germany is a good example for this. According to an American scientist, my dear friend the late Prof. Buck, the United States of America is a science empire. What is it that makes such countries different? In my opinion they have traditions.

The tradition of science. Science is a life style. Firstly it tries to describe the problem. In psychiatry for example first of all the disease is diagnosed… Which criteria does it match? Then data is collected. They have magnificent archives. These data are recorded by an almost homogenous system. Whilst some people constantly gather data others are in a constant effort to analyse it. You witness how wonderfully concrete conclusions are drawn from complex data. The results find an artistic voice, understandable by everyone. For example Kraepelin who put the whole science of psychiatry on its feet. Finally, society regards these data like verses out of the Holy Book and believe in it. Of course in such a system deceit, scientific theft, false data production etc. cannot be forgiven. Can such societies lend credence to rambling speeches? Never! They produce, the others follow. Whether you want to or not, it makes you dependent. If you have no tradition of science, freedom will remain as a “word” only. In some countries the scientific structure is for the private pleasure of an elite section called scientists, whereas in societies with that tradition it infiltrates the whole of the population, everyone whether seven or seventy years old. I remember the day when old Betty, in whose house I was residing, came and asked me: “my tongue hurts, what do you think could be the reason?” I answered uncaringly: “it is probably because you bit it”. She replied: “in my opinion it is glosso-pharyngeal neuralgia”. Betty was an ordinary secretary and I was one of the elite who by chance had found himself a slot in the American National Institute of Health (NIH). Am I making myself clear? I had a very close friend. During his time as a professor at an important university faculty he was persuaded by his older brother to move to a position that would bring him a lot more money and fame. At the time the brother had said to him: “What you are doing now, is that really a proper job? In the position I am offering, many people like you will bow down to you to show their respect!” Who knows, maybe he was right. But can you imagine Einstein bowing down to a director? I can only imagine this as a desperate scene from a tragic film! When I think of the relationship between the great Fatih Sultan Mehmet and his tutor I wonder how we ended up like this. What should be done? Where should one start? I don’t know… I feel really sad whilst writing these lines…

Prof. Dr. Kemal Arıkan