What role does science have in society? Science serves our interests, and is an essential part of how our society changes. Public health and advances in microbiology, such as the invention of the vaccine, help defend us from the onset of disease and infection. Advances in chemistry and physics have innovated how we live our lives, from energy to waste management. Science helps to inform society’s perspectives, as new strides in biology help us to better understand the world around us and our impact on it (such as climate change). Science has also served our curiosity and ambition in our quests to reach the stars, and hopefully, one day soon, the work of scientists will bring us to the Red Planet, Mars.
The global community has both benefited and suffered from scientific knowledge. For example, while the Haber process can be utilized to produce ammonia for use in chemical fertilizers (which helps us all because we eat a lot of food), it has also been applied for the production of explosives during World War I. I think after the atom bomb was used at the end of World War II, the global community began to have a new attitude towards regulating science, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Knowledge has great consequences; good and bad. I believe that it’s important for the world to continue to have conversations about the implications of scientific research because of its potential to provide for us, and harm us. We should act and decide together, in an informed and rational manner, about the nature of science and the fruit of its progress.
It then becomes crucially imperative for the populations of the world to be well informed about the nature of scientific work and research. If we are to have these conversations, they cannot be swayed by inaccuracies or misconceptions. The truth is far more important than perceptions of it. Aside from the expected/intended applications, if there are dangerous implications of scientific knowledge, they must be known. If there are economic determinants, they must be known. All relevant details must be brought forth and presented to the global community in order to have fair conversations about what paths we allow science to take us down. It then becomes not only the duty of scientists and researchers to provide that information, but the obligation of the governments of the world as well.