Letters: Scrutinising science
Monday 05 July 1999
Sir: Lewis Wolpert's view that scientists should be left alone to get on with their work betrays him as the kind of blinkered scientist who gives science a bad name ("The sociologists of science should shut up", 2 July).
Why should science, as human activity, be immune from any kind of critical scrutiny from others? After all, scientific research is not just some neutral activity carried out by unprogrammed robots. As the science writer Colin Tudge warned not long ago, what will happen (in the context of research) is what the rich and powerful want to happen. Research will hide behind commercial confidentiality and the blinkered scientist, dazzled by the imperative - we can do it therefore we must do it - will go where the big money is to ensure that this happens.
Wolpert clings too much to the dogma that science is neutral. Does he really believe that "neutral science" produced napalm and, more recently, the infamous terminator gene?
Sir: Why? There's a question science finds difficult to answer. What is good or bad? There is another.
The idea that science can give answers to everything is absurd. We have to live our lives with relatively little understanding of how the universe works. What Lewis Wolpert offers is scientism, a belief in the ultimate invulnerability of science, rather than science.
The writer is a senior lecturer in Physiology at University College London
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Gun instructor accidentally shot dead by nine-year-old girl with Uzi gun
- 2 Miley Cyrus' homeless MTV VMAs date, Jesse Helt, is wanted by the police
- 3 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 4 Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
- 5 Homer Simpson has taken the ALS ice bucket challenge because of course he has
Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love voted Greatest Guitar Riff of all time
Doctor Who lesbian kiss sparks Ofcom complaints over 'weird lesbian-lizard perv trip'
Emmys 2014: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Steven Moffat win big awards for Sherlock
Homer Simpson has taken the ALS ice bucket challenge because of course he has
Beyonce MTV VMAs feminist performance: Twitter reacts to singer's 'double standard'
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Jeremy Clarkson is a cultural tumour and needs to be removed, says comedian Frankie Boyle
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
- < Previous
- Next >