Science, Society, and Saving Lives

Like many other areas of knowledge, science is a tool for society. Without it, society lacks the logical reasons regulating human behavior and justifying decisions. People explore the intersection of science and society as they present the information in an attempt to teach, change minds, and exact change in their environments. From visualizing the beginning of human life to studying  appearance in the next century, scientists have contributed clues to the mysteries society has yet to unravel. Science brings forth an undying curiosity and sparks the interest in society so that its members continue asking questions about how their world works. In doing so, the answers drive humanity towards understanding and progress. Often times, their discoveries emphasizes new perspectives, inventions, and approaches to world issues.

In Ed Yong’s Suicidal Wasps, Zombie Roaches, and Other Parasite Tales, organisms lose control of their bodies to other parasites. Grasshoppers enter bodies of water, despite seeing the drowned bodies of their kind, because a worm within it must reproduce in an aqueous environment. Knowing the commonality of these, while fascinating and disturbing, also focuses the world’s attention on potential consequences of letting parasite populations infect large geographic areas. This could spark further studies in parasite effects on humans that could aid in preventing illnesses in the future.  Likewise, learning about CRISPR informs audiences of the advantages and disadvantages of genomic engineering projects to create policies about how this science can alter society. Just as science provides the literature for society to read, society supplies the judgment calls that finalizes how information changes people’s actions.

Society and science also works to dispense information. The connections between people, as defined by social interactions, uses opinions and relationships to spur action. Science helps develop communication technology that leads to a rapid dispersion of data for long distances. As more people in society become aware of discoveries in science, more ideas can stem from preexisting ones. PBS’s Rx series, Delivering the Goods, accurately portrays one such instance of society and science working towards solving a problem in a village of Africa. On one of their visits to the region, the Colemans noticed the lack of working ambulance vehicles at the Ministry of Health to send the ailing to hospitals for treatment. Thus the Colemans, one a former professional motorcycle race and another a journalist, founded Riders, a nonprofit that created motorcycle extensions that would mobilize health workers and patients. This brought optimism to the villagers, who were not only given better chances of accessing medical care, but also allowed to control that access on their own by learning to ride, repair, and inventory their own transport. Similar success stories in the episode include Thailand’s battle against HIV when it’s government spread the information they obtained about the infection through public health campaigns and Bangladesh’s program to train lower class women in basic medical care. Although science can explain how to prevent illnesses or calamities and save lives, it is society that ultimately implements those actions to do so. Without the care of the people, science would remain just stories.

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