The slippery slope of modern science
When scrolling the social media feed one often can land on a heated discussion over whether we should all trust science or not. Somehow that echoes the ancient philosophers that were trying to be objective and impartial while pursuing the ultimate truth. Eventually they came up with a model that laid the foundations of modern scientific disciplines. Almost two thousand years passed but can we be conclusive in our judgment or in other words is the debate settled or still ongoing?
The modern catchphrase that we should all have critical thinking never applies to the powerful lobby in the scientific community. Although many people think that this institution is serving the human progress and is self-correcting we will check a few examples which contradict that notion. If we move aside from the veil of media PR we will discover that, after all, the people involved in science are not immune to human follies. Moreover, they have vested interest in perpetuating the myth of all-knowing, impartial expert that is always taking the right and optimal decisions. Last but not least, Newton was an aristocrat who followed his passions, in a sense. Imagine if he was waiting for a grant renewal or a corporation to sponsor his experiments …
Let’s check some embarrassing moments in our modern history that reveal the need to keep an eye on the modern scientific clergy:
One of the darker episodes in human history took place in Germany before the Second World War. Curiously enough, an earlier period neglected by the mass media, reveals how the established science can turn into a monster if left unrestrained. 1920’s in America eugenics was de facto the officially accepted paradigm by the scientific community and was implemented in psychiatric hospitals and prisons.
The foundation principle was that there are traits in human population that are “unfit” or “genetically inferior” and should be eradicated. According to the official statistics 60 000 Americans were forced to be sterilized, including ethnic minorities, poor or people with disabilities.
What were the driving force for this odd episode in our past? Ideas that some people are genetically inferior can be traced down the social Darwinism without any doubt. Even Marxism with its focus on the dialectical materialism influenced to a certain extent the movement. If one considers another human being not worthy of caring and inferior that eventually will lead to dangerous consequences. If there is no value in human life, no moral can be applied, everything is accepted as Dostoyevsky showed long time ago.
1940 was the year in which innocent citizens and kids were exposed to the dangerous pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). According to the official authorities of the day, this product was used to prevent malaria and was promoted freely by the industry. Later on it turned out that it had adverse effect on health and the soil. The videos of spraying the population with this toxic chemical in the midst of the ongoing propaganda assured that it is safe. The rush to put this product on the market made some scientists skeptical but that did not prevent the launch. Eventually, it was dropped due to concerns of environmental issues and the potential harmful effect on the population.