The dark side of science -- how do you feel about it?
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25-09-2011, 02:51 PM
 
RE: The dark side of science -- how do you feel about it?
(25-09-2011 02:39 PM)darksky Wrote:  Zatamon, sorry, but... the heading of this thread is much too provocative. You know that science isn't the problem, society is. So why do you have to give this thread that name?
I really am sorry, I like your threads, but this one... Tongue

darksky, the title of the thread was just a word-play on the "dark side" as in Star Wars -- it is not important, I chose it only to generate interest.

The interesting part is the questions I asked and hope to get answers for. Peterkin above had a good start on it, see if you want to add your own?

Smile
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25-09-2011, 03:04 PM
RE: The dark side of science -- how do you feel about it?
@ all, I'll tell you my opinion... but tomorrow Tongue I have to wake up again in 7 hours. Alarm Clocks... that's a real dark side of science Big Grin
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25-09-2011, 03:05 PM
 
RE: The dark side of science -- how do you feel about it?
(25-09-2011 02:34 PM)Peterkin Wrote:  And who is there to warn him of the danger, except scientists themselves?

Peterkin, most respectable, world-class scientists do it all the time.

Quote:World Scientists' Warning To Humanity

Some 1,700 of the world's leading scientists, including the majority of Nobel laureates in the sciences, issued this appeal in November 1992. The Warning was written and spearheaded by UCS Chair Henry Kendall.

"Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about.
...............
No more than one or a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished.

WARNING - We the undersigned, senior members of the world's scientific community, hereby warn all humanity of what lies ahead. A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it, is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated."

(my emphasis)

See details at World Scientists' Warning To Humanity
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25-09-2011, 04:49 PM (This post was last modified: 25-09-2011 04:57 PM by Peterkin.)
RE: The dark side of science -- how do you feel about it?
(25-09-2011 01:12 PM)mysticjbyrd Wrote:  Science is never bad, the research on the atomic bomb was extraordinarily important milestone in history.

Why?
I've heard this assertion before, usually without a shred of supporting data. Once in a while, some apologist will offer the "potentially" "unlimited" energy, without going very far into what that energy is to be used for. At the time, it ended a war that was already over - at a huge cost in every measure possible. Later on, the tests, proliferation, cold war, spying and assorted paranoia caused further incalculable damage to everything.
We know the down-side. Millions of people have already experienced it, and millions more are waiting for the symptoms to appear.
So, what's good about it?

Quote:The information science creates can be misused, but what cant?

An unanswerable argument for doing something dangerous, possibly something that will terminate all life on the planet: other stuff might be bad too.


(25-09-2011 02:39 PM)darksky Wrote:  Zatamon, sorry, but... the heading of this thread is much too provocative. You know that science isn't the problem, society is. So why do you have to give this thread that name?
I really am sorry, I like your threads, but this one... Tongue

Not presuming to speak for Zatamon, but here's my take on it:
There are questions we need to face, even when they make us unhappy; even when they force us to examine sacred cows close up, lice and all.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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25-09-2011, 05:53 PM
RE: The dark side of science -- how do you feel about it?
Science is, itself, unbiased and amoral. The issue of course that you are alluding to is not science but the abuse of power and privilege by those who wield the authority to do so. These individuals who would use science to manipulate and destroy would do so with any other source of power as well. This is the reason for peer-reviewed science. It eliminates erroneous information but also allows the scientific community to keep an eye on those within its ranks.

“Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.”
—Thomas Henry Huxley
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25-09-2011, 06:02 PM
 
RE: The dark side of science -- how do you feel about it?
(25-09-2011 05:53 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  The issue of course that you are alluding to ....

Actually, I wasn't as much "alluding to" as asking specific questions and making specific observations. I was doing it in the hope that we could have an inspiring discussion about these issues.

For example:

"the question is what safeguard should society consider, what laws should be passed, what changes should be made to minimize the danger of science being misused?"

and:

"... should universities be forbidden to accept grants from military and/or industry? Should the government allocate funding to universities that would enable them to do basic research, without strings attached? You don't have to motivate scientists to do research (or other common-good projects), they are the most motivated people on Earth."

and:

"What could be done to prevent unlimited funds offered for such idiocy and offer it instead for fusion research that would solve almost all of our energy problems (or other common-good projects)?"

and:

"If the public wants to understand the danger in science, they have to be aware of the psychology of scientists who are in love with their science. Once scientists are aware of something possible, they just have to know, they have to try."

and

"In order to protect us from the dark side, society should create a safe, well-motivated (for the common good, education and knowledge) environment for scientific research, in universities as it used to be, where money and power is not allowed to be a motivation. "
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25-09-2011, 06:02 PM
RE: The dark side of science -- how do you feel about it?
Two scientists talking about the nervous sytem over a coffe break, then they go back to work.....one using the nervous system to try to save lives and the other using it to develop methods to kill people.

Two technicians nod to each other as they enter there workshops.....one working on creating the ultimate bullet proof vest and the other working on the perfect ballistic armour piercing bullet.

The way in which we strive to become more efficent and economic in everything that we do......even if that does include killing things Rolleyes

What I will like to mention though about the "dark side" of science is when you consider animal testing. I know a lot of it is banned and I hate to see animals suffer, however though we have learnt many things from it......it has helped evolve our understanding. So its a tough one to weigh up......when the "darker side" eventually gives results for the "good"

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

-Bemore.
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25-09-2011, 06:13 PM
 
RE: The dark side of science -- how do you feel about it?
(25-09-2011 06:02 PM)bemore Wrote:  What I will like to mention though about the "dark side" of science is when you consider animal testing. I know a lot of it is banned and I hate to see animals suffer, however though we have learnt many things from it......it has helped evolve our understanding. So its a tough one to weigh up......when the "darker side" eventually gives results for the "good"

Excellent point, bemore, and almost needs a whole thread just to discuss that.

Of course, we could start by investigating how much of the animal testing is totally pointless and unnecessary.

The second point to investigate is whether other means are available, only it so much easier and cheaper to torture animals rather than use a little imagination.

But maybe I am getting too deep into this aspect -- my tolerance for the way humanity is treating animals is at an all time low at the moment.

Angry
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25-09-2011, 07:03 PM (This post was last modified: 25-09-2011 07:10 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: The dark side of science -- how do you feel about it?
(25-09-2011 07:13 AM)Zatamon Wrote:  I have written about the “Beauty of Science” before, now I want to write about the dark side. Almost like “the dark side of the force” in Star Wars, scientists are often warned about the seductive nature of science in the service of evil and insanity.

As a 26 year career-long computer scientist for a DOD research lab, I've been reflecting on this for a few days now. I'm not ready to comment on the larger socio-political considerations Zatamon is asking for (but I am in a privileged position to appreciate the relationship of government to both industry and academia), but I am ready to comment on my own personal individual considerations. Science can be every bit as seductive as religion. It can become as insidious as religion if I'm not careful. Fortunately, other fuckers much smarter than me have already been there. Hume, Russell, and Godel the destroyer showed me that science is no god and why it can never be. It's just a fucking tool and I need to remember that.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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25-09-2011, 07:32 PM
 
RE: The dark side of science -- how do you feel about it?
(25-09-2011 07:03 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(25-09-2011 07:13 AM)Zatamon Wrote:  I have written about the “Beauty of Science” before, now I want to write about the dark side. Almost like “the dark side of the force” in Star Wars, scientists are often warned about the seductive nature of science in the service of evil and insanity.

As a 26 year career-long computer scientist for a DOD research lab, I've been reflecting on this for a few days now.

I hope you will give us a hint after your mulling it over. Your insight would be very valuable to this discussion

Quote:Science can be every bit as seductive as religion. It can become as insidious as religion if I'm not careful.

I know what you mean, I have been there.

Quote:It's just a fucking tool and I need to remember that.

...and that is the trickiest part: who uses that tool, for what purposes, under what circumstances and who benefits at the end?

We can do what Oppenheimer did at the end and say: "it is too sweet not try" -- or we can demand to see the WHOLE picture, from beginning to end, and not wait for the hand-wringing after the genie is out of the bottle. We need to know if we made the world a better place, in exchange for everything the world gave us.

As Obi Wan Kenobi said: "Beware of the Dark Side!"
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