s c i e n c e x s o c i e t y

I think that one of the main reasons why people want to dispute the opinions of science and scientists is they don’t understand the intersection between science and society. A lot of people think that a lot of work that scientists do–especially if it doesn’t directly benefit humans–is “useless.” Why should we know more about a new beetle species, or try to understand why objects in space behave the way they do? All of science is worth pursuing, because as humans we inhabit a world where everything is connected and interdependent. Sometimes this is hard to conceptualize, and I think this is where scientists are failing. People don’t care about their impact on rising sea levels, until they understand what the implications are. For people in Singapore, an island which is not very high above sea level, this means that their island will slowly but surely disappear under water. And if the current climate change trends continue, we will all suffer the consequences. As we saw in the Rx for Survival video, science can be very instrumental in preventing catastrophes such as the infection of millions of people from HIV. However, measures have to be taken to show people that science does have a role in society and that even the smallest of actions can have a great impact.
I also think that science scares some people because a lot of it seems fantastical. For example, the What Will Humans Look Like in 100 Years TED talk fascinated a lot of the class because the ideas that the speaker posed seemed like they came out of a science fiction novel. Imagine being able to preserve your brain so that one day you can wake up on Mars! It seems as if scientists have unimaginable power. Fortunately, this is where ethics comes into play. Who gets to decide how far humans go into their quest for knowledge? What is worth knowing, even if there is a lot of risk involved? Who should be allowed to determine right from wrong? I believe that this task should fall into the hands of an international scientific review board made up of experienced scientists from different backgrounds. This ensures that people with different beliefs and values will be involved in the decision making process. This will also improve the credibility of the ethical decisions they will have to make. I think that when people learn to have a greater trust in science, then society as a whole will be more progressive and forward-thinking.

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