The theme of this talk is the importance of communication and freedom of research, in the pursuit of dignity and hope for Europe’s lost community of sufferers of dementia.
Applying the lessons of a career witnessing tragedy, to a family’s devastation with Huntington’s disease, lessons are learnt about the morality – or rather lack of it – of interfering with mankind’s instinctive desire to help the sick.
In the year that the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin is being celebrated, it is worth remembering that he was derided by the Church for being a heretic for publishing his theory of evolution.
Now the Church of England is apologising for that ‘misunderstanding’.
There could be something to be said for suggesting that religious zealots should stay quiet on a subject it will take them a century and a half to understand.
Dogma of any kind must not be allowed to impede what may be a pivotal moment in medical history.
Indeed, even more should be done pro-actively, to provide wider access to scientific research, from open access to research findings, to legislation protecting the rights of the sick.
The lesson from the world’s conflicts can be just as simply applied to these goals; that communication leads to understanding, understanding dilutes fear, and the vacuum left by fear can be filled with hope.

by Charles Sabine, NBC News Correspondent

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