The scientific method defined and described


Scientific spinoffs are trivial



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Scientific spinoffs are trivial


Breakthroughs are rare

Ruth Macklin (prof. of bioethics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine), Mortal Choices, 1987, p. 104

“The actual contribution to medical knowledge gained by most clinical trails is only a pale rendering of the image of miraculous breakthroughs in scientific understanding and control of disease.”
Science works best by directed research, not serendipity

David Baltimore (prof. of biology, Rockefeller Univ.; Nobel Prize in Medicine, 1975), “On Doing Science in the Modern World,” from The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, Delivered at Cambridge University, March 9 and 10, 1992, p. 276; Online: www.tannerlectures.utah.edu/lectures/documents/Baltimore93.pdf, accessed April 30, 2008

“Quoting back to me things I might have said once, they will go on, ‘Head-on research is often the least effective way to get an answer. When we deal with the unknown, answers often come from unexpected quarters.’ True, true — because I’ve made such arguments myself they come easily to my mind and I deeply believe them. But they are not always the right arguments and are not always applicable. Let’s remember the Manhattan Project, the American crash program to design an atomic bomb. It was a great success because a group of physicists gave up the self-indulgence of unfettered research and dedicated themselves to making a bomb. The basic underpinnings were there, years of unfettered research had provided the basic understanding — what was needed and provided was research that never lost sight of its goals.”
History shows that technological advances may be, on balance, negative

Brian Halweil (research associate, WorldWatch Institiute) and Dick Bell (senior policy adviser, WorldWatch Institiute), “Beyond cloning: the larger agenda of human engineering,” World Watch, July-August 2002, p. 9

“But our study of the history of science and technology has led us to be deeply skeptical about faith in the unexamined, unregulated power of science and technology to solve all our problems. This faith has been sorely tested time and again, as the large-scale rollout of one new technology after another has confronted us with unpredicted consequences. In contemplating the internal combustion engine, no one foresaw traffic jams, urban sprawl, smog, and global warming. DDT was hailed as a miracle pesticide, until whole populations of birds began to crash. Dams and levees built to control floods have resulted in even more destructive floods.”

Science fulfills its cultural and social roles


SCIENCE IS UNIFIED

Even divergent disciplines in science are unified behind a common philosophy

C.P. Snow (English physicist, novelist, philosopher of science, 1905-1980; awarded peerage as Baron Snow in 1964), “The Literati and the Scientists,” in The Fate of Man, ed. by Crane Brinton, 1961, p. 299

“At one pole, the scientific culture really is a culture, not only in the intellectual but also in an anthropological sense. That is, its members need not, and often do not, always completely understand each other — biologists more often than not will have a pretty hazy idea of contemporary physics — but there are common attitudes, common standards and patterns of behavior, common approaches and assumption. This goes surprisingly wide and deep. It cuts across other mental patterns, such as those of religion or politics or class.”

THE SCIENTIST CAN RELATE TO THE NON-SCIENTIST

Communication is possible between the scientist and non-scientist

Charles R. DeCarlo (education director, IBM), “Perspectives on Technology” in Technology and Social Change, ed. by Eli Ginzberg, 1964, p. 41

“There is not a scientific problem that cannot be explained in a clear-cut manner to a person of intelligence if the technologist wants to explain himself.”
Education is key to communication across the science/nonscience boundary

Henry Margenau (prof. of physics and natural philosophy, Yale) et al., The Scientist, 1964, p. 109

“If scientists are to be more selective and lucid in their writings, and if the public is to appreciate more fully the powers and problems of science, its exhilarations and limitations, the solution must lie finally in a better basic education for both humanist and scientist. Many educators feel that by the time a student graduates from college he should, whatever his special field of interest, understand enough of every major branch of thought to be able to follow its principal advances in later years.”
Education is working

Charles R. DeCarlo (education director, IBM), “Perspectives on Technology” in Technology and Social Change, ed. by Eli Ginzberg, 1964, p. 40

“Because of their increasing role, there has been a growing emphasis on a broader training for engineers and scientists, on instructing them in the humanities and social sciences. The engineering profession is deeply concerned with the moral and ethical responsibilities of the engineer.”

SCIENCE HAS A POSITIVE INFLUENCE ON SOCIETY

Science is hostile to authoritarianism

“Don’t Be Evil” (unsigned editorial), The New Republic, May 13, 2010, p. 1

“Science is empirical, collaborative across borders, rooted in the desire to ask questions — and therefore, at least in theory, inimical to dictatorship.”
Scientists have a special duty to defend human rights

“Don’t Be Evil” (unsigned editorial), The New Republic, May 13, 2010, p. 1

“In 1981, Andrei Sakharov wrote an essay titled ‘The Responsibility of Scientists.’ His argument was that scientists, who ‘form the one real worldwide community which exists today,’ had a special obligation to speak out in defense of human rights. In part, his essay was directed to fellow Soviet scientists, whom he implored to take risks on behalf of principle — to ‘muster sufficient courage and integrity to resist the temptation and the habit of conformity.’ Yet Sakharov did not let his colleagues in the free world off the hook. ‘Western scientists,’ he wrote, ‘face no threat of prison or labor camp for public stands; they cannot be bribed by an offer of foreign travel to forsake such activity. But this in no way diminishes their responsibility.’”

THE SCIENCE ELITE WON’T TAKE OVER

Democratic institutions prevent social domination by a scientific elite

Charles R. DeCarlo (education director, IBM), “Perspectives on Technology” in Technology and Social Change, ed. by Eli Ginzberg, 1964, p. 40

“A more complete shift of power toward the technologist is probably not inevitable, however, because of the latent strength of the American democratic condition.”



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