Good science, bad science, and junk science

Good science must be the best alternative for all professionals who are committed to maintaining and improving people’s health. This kind of thinking, however, is not shared by all orthodontists. Some of them consider that orthodontics is fundamentally an art, leaving behind the importance of science and its development.

Albert Einstein once said, “The important thing is to never stop questioning.” So, we can ask ourselves, what are the real goals of orthodontic education?

  • Skilled clinicians in various orthodontic techniques as the result of intensive training vs professionals capable of making clinical decisions reasoned as a consequence of learning science.

  • Proficient clinicians in the manufacture and use of orthodontic appliances vs specialists aware of the physical and biologic bases that make the working of these devices possible.

  • Experts in the use of the latest generation in orthodontic technology vs clinicians who prudently use diagnostic and therapeutic methods that have not proven to be truly effective and efficient.

These different outcomes of orthodontic education are not mutually exclusive but are complementary and necessary.

As Dr Behrents rightly pointed out, the trial-and-error time must stay in the past. Although with this approach, many advances in orthodontics were achieved, we cannot continue to use it today. Imagine what it would be like allowing medicine today to develop new drugs by testing random chemicals in patients until someone finds the desired effect.

When a clinician is not a producer of knowledge but only a user of it, sometimes he or she has no interest in questions such as the following.

  • What are the physical and biologic bases of a particular orthodontic system?

  • How can knowledge in molecular biology produce faster, safer, and more stable orthodontic tooth movement?

  • How is the knowledge of human evolution important in determining the origin of dentofacial deformities?

  • How can the knowledge of the human genome help us prevent malocclusions?

  • How can the history of orthodontics help us unmask junk science?

  • Why not knowing the principles of statistical science is equivalent to being functionally illiterate?

Not all orthodontists need to be “scientists” in the sense of dedicating themselves to research, but all must be professionals capable of using applied science: ie, with a scientific basis and a critical thinking that allows them to differentiate good science from bad or junk science. Further development of orthodontic science for professionals in training is difficult and arduous work, but it is necessary if we want to produce a good professional and not just an expert in a trade.

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Apr 2, 2017 | Posted by in Orthodontics | Comments Off on Good science, bad science, and junk science
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