What Science Can Do Essay

1202 words - 5 pages

What Science Can Do

I argue that 'we' the public of the United States of America, do not have an exaggerated view of what science can do. To support this claim I have compared and contrasted two articles: Enemies of Promise and The Hazards of Science. Both articles cover the topic of scientific research. Both authors are accredited scientists in their own right, and are excellent examples to cite for my thesis which I believe very strongly in. Although, I disagree with some of the conclusions made in the articles, I neverless hold both authors in very high regard.

Professor of microbiology and Nobel Prize winner, J. Michael Bishop continually makes the statement in his article, ...view middle of the document...

The author then answers his own questions: No, but he qualifies his answer by stating that it is an intuitive response that he is incapable of reasoning through. I too believe that we should not place limitations on science, while admitting that it is also an intuitive response. However, I still have concerns.

It all boils down to fear: "Should we stop short of learning about some things, for fear of what we, or someone, will do with the knowledge?" (237). On this point J. Michael Bishop is clear. He states that, "Resistance to science is born of fear. Fear, in turn, is bred by ignorance. And it is ignorance that is our deepest malady." (260). But, isn't fear something that should be considered when scientists are currently accomplishing things that not too long ago where considered science fiction? Lewis Thomas seems to question this.

Throughout, The Hazards of Science, Lewis Thomas returns to the issue of recombinant DNA, a technology that permits the stitching of one creature's genes into the DNA of another to make hybrids. He claims that, "It is hubris for man to manufacture a hybrid on his own." While he obviously questions whether or not 'we' should be doing this, he none-the-less comes to the conclusion that we should not limit human knowledge. Put in that context I would have to agree. However, I am still uncomfortable with this concept. And there lies the dilemma, there are things that most question the wisdom of, but how do we address those issues without putting restrictions on research?

Thomas listed many of the recent accomplishments of science including, psychosurgery, fetal research, heart transplants, and cloning. Bishop reveals that he was involved in the uncovering of the genes that are involved in the genesis of human cancer. Why than are the publics' expectations of what science can accomplish unrealistic? They may be unreasonable in the sense of the time that we believe things should be accomplished, but I do not believe that necessitates that these expectations are unrealistic.

We live in a world where life expectancy is almost twice what it was just a hundred years ago, and many ailments that were once fatal are mere annoyances to our daily living. These improvements to life have been accomplished through science. Virtually every night on the news one hears about some kind of scientific breakthrough or discovery. Why then are our expectations unrealistic? I do not believe that they are. J. Michael...

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