What is ethical? Is experimenting on animals ethical? Is experimenting with human egg cells ethical? When dealing with human morals, there’s rarely an easy answer. These questions can be highly personal, and often, the answer can vary by case to case basis. My personal criteria is fairly simple. First of all, science should always contribute to the benefit of society or understanding of the world around us. Secondly, no experiments should cause unnecessary pain and suffering if it does not solve a larger problem in which many would benefit. Unfortunately, the second step can be a bit objective, depending on which way one looks at an experiment. Still, it’s a decent place to start when considering ethics.
The focus of science is- and always should be- to understand the world around us, and to use that understanding to advance and/or benefit modern-day society. I feel the only way this can truly happen is if the information is made widespread. However, one must be careful when sharing data with the public. In many cases, facts are twisted (we’ve all seen those “is coffee the new miracle drug?” articles), omitted (as in the case of skewed test groups), or are plainly not true (vaccines and autism, for example). To best do this, the information needs to be shared clearly and dryly, with a heavier focus on the limits of the research.
To be a good scientist, one must always keep an open mind. No matter how certain one is about any given phenomenon, in light of new evidence, they must be willing to change their hypothesis if they truly wish to learn. Too strict of beliefs can impede understand, as in the case with bees and other insects, and how they often don’t follow human gender roles. By nature of being human, however, very few scientists are able to look at data through a completely unbiased lens. Somehow, society has formed their beliefs in a way that may color their opinions and theories to match up better with what they know and experience.