The hazards or disadvanages of scienceit most be hazards

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mrsdelossantos | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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How words can be used to confuse rather than clarify, so that the word "truth" can act like a carpet for inconvenient facts to be swept under. To understand how post #9 manages to do this we need to examine the difference between truth and knowledge. Science seeks knowledge, not truth. Opposite of truth is falsehood or lies, and that of knowledge is ignorance. Falsehood is always bad, but ignorance, as they say, can sometimes be bliss.

Science seeks knowledge of the truth. And by truth, I mean realities of the physical world such as gravity or the law of conservation of energy. What we currently accept as the "truth" about the universe is only as good as our tools of measurement, calculation, and imagination.

Does the truth change? Yes. If a new theory better explains observations, then the truth changes. We used to think the Earth was the center of the solar system. But, it didn't fit the data. So when Copernicus and others proposed a heliocentric model of the solar system that fit the data perfectly, it eventually replaced the geocentric model. At this time, of course, religion and science were strongly intertwined.

In fact, there is a very fine line between religion and science, for they both rely on belief. Scientists have to believe in the scientific method. If the data does not match the theory, no matter how beloved the theory is, it must be discarded. In the case of the geocentric model, people wanted to believe in perfect circles because the heavens were supposed to be perfect. But, in reality, the planets orbit the Sun in elliptical paths.

So, I don't think we'll ever arrive at absolute truths because we can never measure things 100% accurately or precisely. However, we seek to know the truth, the reality of the world around us, as best as we can, and I think that is a noble and honorable pursuit and that is what I meant when I used the word truth.

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mrsdelossantos | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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Science seeks truth. I don't think there are any disadvantages to the truth.

There are, however, many hazards. Besides the ones mentioned previously, the most dangerous hazards are the unknown ones.

For example, when CFCs were introduced as refrigerants and propellants in the early 1900's, they were touted as being safe and non-flammable. Little did we know that the chlorine in the compounds was interfering with ozone production in Earth's stratosphere (the second layer of the atmosphere above Earth's surface), leading to the creation of the "ozone hole". Once scientists realized what was happening, the U.S. banned the use of CFCs. Although the situation is improving, the thinning of the ozone layer is still a problem.

CFCs were developed to solve one problem; yet, they unknowingly created a different and more serious global problem.

This case illustrates that it is difficult for us to predict all the potential hazards of a new technology. The best we can do is to monitor the situation and change course when necessary. Adaptability has helped us as a species survive thus far, and it will be no less of an asset in the future.

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appletrees | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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I think when we talk about "science" we are also often referring to what we think of as established and proven modern methodologies for dealing with problems. For example, to take healing modalities as an example, many people accept that modern allopathic medicine is the "scientific" approach to healing, whereas so-called 'alternative medicine' modalities are seen as 'unscientific' even though in some cases they have  proven effectiveness from many years of use. But since allopathic healing has been tested using scientific methods and quantitative forms of analysis, and alternative healing successes are usually anecdotal, it is much more difficult to measure and quantify their effectiveness.

 

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enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Science is the supreme human endeavor.  It is the ultimate expression of mankind's intellect.  The scientific process, over the last few centuries, has raised the standard of living for millions, and allowed millions to exist that would not.  We are, in many ways, victims of our own scientific success -- nuclear energy, as an example in our own time, can be used for great productive or destructive ends. The same can be said of fire back in caveman days. Nothing has changed except the rate of discovery and implementation.  It is not science that's at fault; it merely allows the productive or destructive options to exist.  What's at fault is the application or implementation of the fruits of science by the unaccountable that leads to disaster.  Science isn't hazardous; it's misapplication is.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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There is always a cross of science and faith.  I admire those who are scientists and have a very strong Christian faith...like C.S. Lewis who spent years as an atheist researching to disprove the existence of God only to prove that God is true (he is now a top Christian author).  While science is valuable and necessary, I agree with prior posts that it should never be used solely for monetary gains (lack of ethics/Christian morals) but for the betterment of humankind and improving the quality of life on earth for all while respecting our Earth and resources.

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drmonica | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Many scientific processes can be dangerous if not conducted properly. For example, chemical reactions can produce toxic gases that can be lethal to humans and animals. However, the fact there is danger inherent in some scientific processes does not in and of itself mean that science is hazardous or disadvantageous to human beings. It is the human tendency to harness science and nature for profit that is hazardous. Greedy corporate executives are known to make risky decisions with regard to scientific processes that can have devastating effects on people and the environment.

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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One of the hazards of science is that we often trust it without question. I am reminded of numerous drugs that have been marketed, only to be withdrawn after thousands of people suffered or died as a result of taking them. Perhaps the most shocking case was that of thalidomide, a drug given years ago to pregnant women to control morning sickness. Far too late, it was learned that the drug caused severe and terrible limb deformities in babies. Drugs intended to cure or control certain physical ailments sometimes do more harm than good.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This will be difficult to answer because the very nature of science is to improve the conditions of life and explain that which might be unexplainable.  Having said that, if there are any hazards or disadvantages of science, it would be in its misaaplication or its subversion from those with ulterior motives.  A good example of this would be genetic engineering.  As a notion of pure science, genetic engineering is an advancement of science, a way of improving what is already present in making it better.  Yet, it can be manipulated into ways that represent hazardous action or pure danger.  Biotechnology can be used to alter elements that can be used to garner greater control from the part of individuals that have a hidden agenda.  Another example of this manipuation would be the case of nuclear energy.  Scientists studied and analyzed ways in which greater means of atomic energy can be harnessed.  Yet, other individuals found ways to apply this study of pure science in the atomic bomb and the destruction it wrought.  One need only look at fascist and dicatator regimes that committed horrible crimes against humanity in the name of "science" and "rational progress." (Josef Mengele was a "doctor" who followed an application of scientific applications and methodology.  Again, this is a perverse application of science, but a dangerous exhibition of science, nonetheless.) In theses situations, science itself is not bad nor evil, yet in that hands of individuals who wish to advance ulterior agendas or hidden desires, science can be deemed as dangerous or hazardous.  In its unversality and applicability to and by anyone and everyone, science can be led to do terrible things.

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jillyfish | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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A major danger with science is that we may not like the truth it discovers. Science can throw some major punches at the human race's self image.

In the next couple of centuries it is perfectly possible science will prove that the human brain is not capable of free will. Or it may prove that one race is more intelligent than another. Or that women are more intelligent than men. Or that you can tell if an unborn child will be good or bad from its DNA etc etc.

Throughout history, science has forced people to confront difficult truths, and they sometimes find it very very hard. The 'poster child' of this confrontation is of course Evolution. It is 150 years old (from before the American Civil War!) and still only 35% of Americans can accept it. 

Science is dangerous because we don't know what the answers will be until we find them, and then we have to come to adjust our image of ourselves.

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Post # 11 illustrates the point I tried to put forward in my post #10. Same word may be used to mean different things, and by careful choice of words it is possible to arouse emotions for one meaning of the word on the basis of its association with another meaning, which may also be more widely understood meaning.

Writer of post #9 goes on to explain in post #11:

And by truth, I mean ...

and then also says:

I don't think we'll ever arrive at absolute truths.

I wonder what what non-absolute truth is. If it means partial truth, then it is also partial lie or falsehood. I think we can avoid all this confusion by using the word knowledge for what mrsdelossantos means by truth, and the word truth for what mrsdelossantos calls absolute truth.

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

How words can be used to confuse rather than clarify, so that the word "truth" can act like a carpet for inconvenient facts to be swept under. To understand how post #9 manages to do this we need to examine the difference between truth and knowledge. Science seeks knowledge, not truth. Opposite of truth is falsehood or lies, and that of knowledge is ignorance. Falsehood is always bad, but ignorance, as they say, can sometimes be bliss.

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Anything that is powerful has the potential of being very useful as well very harmful. In addition is the problem of supposedly good and useful things having unanticipated side effects that are very harmful. The previous posts have covered a fairly good ground in terms of hazards of science by way of potential misuse such as weapons of mass destruction, and through accidents. So I will talk about the, unintended and unanticipated harmful side effects of scientific progress.

The biggest hazard of this kind faced by the whole humankind is the phenomenon of global warming, which is the direct result of mass industrialization encouraged and made possible by scientific progress. Then there are so many minor ones - like the threat posed by junk food. While science has provides us with so many comforts of life and means of better health, it has also changed our lifestyles in ways which are not always good for our physiological or psychological well beings.

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