Have you ever heard the name Margit Hamosh? It’s probably unlikely. Dr. Hamosh was a scientist who discovered the digestive enzyme, lingual lipase, in her study of human milk and neonatal digestion. Margit Hamosh may also a name heard along with other colleagues like, Mika Popovic, Robert Gallo and Rameshwar Sharma. All were on trial by the Office of Research Integrity organized by the National Institutes of Health in the late ’80’s.
In a piece done by Malcolm Gladwell in the Washington Post, and more recently revisited in his podcast, Revisionist History, he highlights the absurdity of the attack on the scientific community in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Many scientists, like the ones listed above, were found guilty of scientific fraud because of a typo or the deviation in the definition of a word like, “use”.
Gladwell expresses remorse over being a part of the journalistic frenzy over scientific fraud. He points out that he and others were proclaiming scientist “GUITLY!” and yet never really understood the crime.
I appreciate the sentiment of regret, but I also empathize. There are many times I have joined in the “GUILTY! Party” without much understanding. Without even knowing the crime, I quickly jump into the party that has told me someone is guilty of a crime. It’s human nature after all.
When Jesus was sent to Pilate for a trial, Pilate couldn’t find the basis for criminal punishment. He address the Jewish crowd in Luke 23:22-23 “And he said to them the third time, ‘Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; therefore I will punish Him and release Him.’ But they were insistent, with loud voices asking that He be crucified. And their voices began to prevail.”
Incited by the religious leaders, the crowds collectively proclaimed Jesus’ guilt, and requested the freedom of another prisoner. My guess is that many in the crowd didn’t even understand what they were proclaiming Him guilty of. It was the collective agreement of the “GUILT Party”.
Whether in a casual conversation with friends or as an opinion from a media article, we must try our best to understand the situation before we reach our verdict. Tweets and social media outlets are so instantaneously spread throughout the globe. Like wild fire an opinion becomes fact and then the consensus of the masses. Let’s do our part to avoid being a default member of the “GUILTY Party”. -jason