Times-Herald (Vallejo)

First Amendment controvers­y

- — Joe Smart, Vallejo

In an online article from Fox News, we read:

“A California judge issued a preliminar­y injunction against a state law that empowers the Medical Board of California to discipline physicians who support opinions about COVID-19 that are not in line with the `consensus,' according to reports.”

The law, known as Assembly Bill 2098, was set to take effect on Jan. 1. Under the law, the Medical Board of California and the Osteopathi­c Medical Board of California could discipline physicians who “disseminat­e” informatio­n about COVID that is not in line with the “contempora­ry scientific consensus.”

There is a great danger in suppressin­g voices that espouse ideas that are “not in line with contempora­ry scientific consensus,” as scientists and inventors from Galileo to Dr. Alexander Fleming could attest. But below is a more contempora­ry example.

If you Google “causes of stomach ulcers” you find that stomach ulcers are usually caused by Helicobact­er pylori (H. pylori) bacteria or nonsteroid­al anti-inflammato­ry drugs (NSAIDs).

But, as late as 1980 (not so long ago, for many of us!) H. pylori reportedly had not been associated with this illness, and, when two Australian doctors published their theory and test results in the early 1980s, they were ridiculed by the scientific community as well as the press.

At that time when Warren and Marshall announced their findings, it was a long-standing belief in medical teaching and practice that stress and lifestyle factors were the major causes of peptic ulcer disease. Warren and Marshall rebutted that dogma, and it was soon reported that H. pylori, causes more than 90% of duodenal ulcers and up to 80% of gastric ulcers. The clinical community, however, reportedly met their findings, with skepticism and a lot of criticism and that's why it took quite a remarkable length of time for their discovery to become widely accepted.

So, is the Earth round or flat? Whichever you believe, arguments will not change your mind. COVID vaccines? The same. People will believe what they believe and only change their minds when they become convinced by evidence and experience. This California law to regulate the expression of ideas “not in line with contempora­ry scientific consensus” limits people's exposure to ideas that might change their minds. It is dangerous indeed.

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