[Why do animals] undergo in the course of their growth a series of complicated changes, during which they acquire organs which have no function, and which, after remaining visible for a short time, disappear without leaving a trace... The explanation of such facts is obvious. The stage when the tadpole breathes by gills is a repetition of the stage when the ancestors of the frog had not advanced in the scale of development beyond a fish.
The theory of evolution by natural selection is an ecological theory—founded on ecological observation by perhaps the greatest of all ecologists. It has been adopted by and brought up by the science of genetics, and ecologists, being modest people, are apt to forget their distinguished parenthood.
As biomedical research continues to provide us with greater understanding and with powerful new tools, the scientific community has, I think, a dual responsibility. One is to push forward the frontiers to make medical advances possible, to understand what cancer is, to develop new ways of treating cancer, to prevent heart disease, and to develop ways of preventing, ultimately, disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and depression. But science also has a second responsibility to society, which is to point out what we need to be concerned about as a society and to bring to bear humane, balanced, and thoughtful ways of dealing with the advances that come from biomedical research. Scientists need to speak to these issues.
Like many great ideas in biology, the idea implicating infectious causation in chronic diseases, though simple, has far-reaching implications. It is so simple and so significant, that one would think it would have been recognized by many and would be the starting point for any discussion on the causes of disease. Not yet.
Science is imagination in the service of the verifiable truth and that service is indeed communal. It cannot be rigidly planned. Rather, it requires freedom and courage and the plural contributions of many different kinds of people who must maintain their individuality while giving to the group.
The distance between folk society and literate society is ever decreasing, and Teresa Brewer will yet shake hands with Mrs. Texas Gladden. But until that happens—until my own culture, and Teresa Brewer's, develops a folk tradition of its own—If I want to learn something about real folk music, I'll stick with Mrs. Gladden.