Tuesday, July 20, 2004

An Analogy to Halacha/Hashkafa?

(The following is "Dilbert's" Hock.  It's an interesting idea (though not my own), so I am posting it. 
 
Recently the FDA(food and drug administration) considered whether to approve an over the counter morning after birth control pill(basically a double dose regular birth control pill)..  The outside scientific advisory board and internal scientific advisory boards both reccomended approval of the pill.  The FDA then did not approve the pill, the first time it has ignored the unanimous advice of the scientific advisory boards.  The reason given was that the side effects of the pill were not well documented on 13-16 year old girls.  The scientific reality is that 1) there is no scientific reason to think that there would be different side effects in this age group 2) there was no indication from the limited data that there were any differences 3) girls in this age group take birth control pills for a number of different reasons(besides birth control) and there have been no reports of unusual adverse side effects.  In addition, the FDA had the option of approving the drug for a certain age group, and could have limited its use to people over 16, in the same way that alcohol and cigarettes can only be bought be people over 18.  What is clear is that the ideology of the administration influenced this decision, and the reason given, while it had some mild validity, provided a weak excuse for what was basically a political decision, ignoring the scientific facts. 
 
I am not bringing this to have a debate on whether it was a good or bad thing that the administration did.  However, I think it provides an analogy to how Halacha and Hashkafa sometimes work.  Halacha would be analagous to science, in which an objective mind can sometimes find clear indications as to where the path should lead.  Hashkafa provides an overarching influence as to how the Halacha is interpreted.  In some cases, weak Halacha is preferred when it is in consonance with the Hashkafic view.  Of course, we all have different Hashkafot.

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