Although this entry is not really science denialism, I did think it serendipitous when I heard Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air interviewing Emily Anthes about her book, Frankenstein’s Cat. The connection is that both journalists spoke about the intersection of science and society. Mr. Specter spoke more about how important it is for our politicians to heed the advice of scientists (among other things), while Ms. Anthes appeared to be more skeptical of accepting science without seriously questioning the morals and ethics of each advance.
As I write this, I know that I am much more in line with the views of Mr. Specter and believe that science offers society hope for the future, but I can’t help but notice that it appears that I am counseling against ethical consideration. This is not the case, however I sometimes wonder if people give fair consideration to values of society as a whole in these issues, or if they just get caught up in a knee-jerk reaction.
Let me see if I can provide one quick example of what I mean when I say this: I also heard a recent report of human –> mouse glial cell transplant resulting in the animals showing substantial gains in the rapidity in which they could solve mazes. At the end of this report, the journalist questioned whether this raised ethical challenges because these mice were now ‘superior’ to other mice. This implied that these animals were more intelligent and this made them more human-like . Although I understand the basis for this question, there are much more human-like animals that are subject to scientific investigation than mice. The question of whether a pretty smart mouse exceeded the consideration given to the health and welfare of dogs or non-human primates is probably a long way off.