Science and Technology in Reflections and Enemies of Promise

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Science and Technology in Reflections and Enemies of Promise

The controversy over science is the central argument in both Max Born's "Reflections" and J. Michael Bishop's "Enemies of Promise." Science and technology have greatly influenced and improved the way people live in a society. However, while Born argues that science is the essence of the "breakdown of human civilization" (208), Bishop strongly disagrees with Born's views: that scientists must take responsibility for their inventions and discoveries.

Born's essay partly portrays a negative view towards scientists and science. It shows examples of inventions along with their negative effects towards nature and the world. For example, "medicine has overcome most plagues and epidemic diseases and it has doubled the human lifespan within a single generation: the result . . . catastrophic overpopulation" (Born 209). On the other hand, Bishop believes that science has a more positive impact on the world. To him, "We live in an age of scientific triumph. Science has solved many of nature's puzzles and greatly enlarged human knowledge" (237). Bishop's view is right.

But a point of similarity between the two works is that to be a true scientist one needs a complete education, which includes humanistic subjects like literature, art,

philosophy, history, religion, and music. For instance in Born's words, "Scientists should not be cut off from humanistic thinking" (212), for it has "insights to offer into the human condition" (Bishop 238). Here both agree.

Another strong argument is that society's judgment of science is clouded by ignorance. "It blames science for what are actually the failures of individuals or society to use the knowledge that science has provided. The blame is misplaced" (Bishop 239). For example, the government spends millions of dollars on the tobacco industry even though it is a proven scientific fact that tobacco kills. This shows that some people only want to misuse scientific products,

so they should be prepared to take responsibility for their action and not blame it on science as Born implies.

Although Born's "Reflections" and Bishop's "Enemies of Promise" share some similar points the main focus of each work is quite different. In "Reflections", Born "confesses a sense of responsibility for the break down in human civilization" (208).

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