Why am I so afraid of science? After all, was it not because of science that advancements in technology were made? Did it not create immunizations for once lethal diseases such as measles and polio? Although science does benefit our lives, it also provides detrimental and destructive results. The automobile was a break through invention, yet, it is also one of the main producers of pollution. Was it not a result of science that the atomic bomb was created thereby, destroying the lives of numerous beings? J. Michael Bishop and Pamela Samuelson demonstrate through their readings that science can be both beneficial and detrimental.
In his article entitled "Enemies of Promise," J. Michael Bishop attempts to defend the creditability of science. As a scientist, Bishop believes that science has "solved many of nature's puzzles and greatly enlarged human knowledge" (237) as well as "vastly improved human welfare" (237). Despite these benefits, Bishop points out that some critics are skeptical and have generally mistrusted the field. Bishop believes that "the source of these dissatisfactions appears to be an exaggerated view of what science can do" (239). In the defense of science, Bishop argues that this problem is not due to science rather, it results from a lack of resources. "When scientists fail to meet unrealistic expectations, they are condemned by critics who do not recognize the limits of science" (240).
Bishop argues that science is beneficial when it is understood. He explains that many critics blame science for the problems that exist in our world today, yet it is society that has ignored the warning signs that science has provided. Bishop demonstrates this point through his statement:
Science has produced the vaccines required to control many childhood infections in the United States, but our nation has failed to deploy properly those vaccines. Science has sounded the alarm about acid rain and its principal origins in automobile emissions, but our society has not found the political will to bridle the internal combustion engine. Science has documented the medical risks of addiction to tobacco, yet our federal government still spends large amounts of money subsidizing the tobacco industry (239).
Bishop further believes that science is met with resistance and fear much in part because "Science is poorly taught in most of our elementary and secondary schools, when it is taught at all" (241). Bishop incorporates the findings of recent testing to demonstrate that "U.S. high school students finished ninth in physics among the top twelve nations, eleventh in chemistry, and dead last in biology" (241). How, then, can science be beneficial if it is not properly taught and understood?
I can empathize with this last point made by Bishop. The mention of dissecting frogs, the periodic table, the immune system, DNA, osmosis, or physics, for example, makes me cringe and tense up at the thought. My experiences with science throughout my...