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Times of Triumph, Times of Doubt: Science and the Battle for Public Trust


Subject Area(s):  Biology in SocietyGeneral Interest TitlesHistory of Science

By Elof Axel Carlson, Professor Emeritus, State University of New York at Stony Brook

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© 2006 • 227 pp., index
Hardcover • $39 15.60 (click here to price in UK Pounds)
ISBN  978-087969805-8
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  •     Description    
  •     Contents    
  •     Reviews    
  •     Related Titles    

Description

The intent and uses of science are a continuing preoccupation, especially in public debates on issues such as new pharmaceuticals, cloning, stem cells, genetically modified foods, and assisted reproduction. Times of Triumph, Times of Doubt, written by the eminent geneticist and historian Elof Carlson, explores the moral foundations of science and their role in these hot–button issues. Carlson chooses a variety of case histories and describes their scientific background and the part played by scientists in the application of their work, including their motivations and reactions to bad outcomes, both real and alleged. He examines why ethical lapses have occurred in these areas, why bad things happen when, for the most part, those who worked on the science had only good intentions in mind, and how such lapses can be prevented from occurring in the future. This exploration of ethics and science is important reading for those interested in issues of science and society, including journalists, theologians, legislators, lawyers, and scientists themselves.

Contents

Introduction

PART 1: THE DIVERSE MORAL AND ETHICAL FOUNDATIONS OF BASIC AND APPLIED SCIENCE
1. Why Science Is Sometimes Perceived as Evil
2. The Tools of Judgment: Ethics and Moral Traditions

PART 2: THE ROLE OF THE STATE IN SHAPING SCIENCE
3. Evil at Its Worst: Nazi Medicine and Biology
4. The Banality of Evil: The Careers of Charles Davenport and Harry Laughlin
5. Heroes with Feet of Clay: Francis Galton and Harry Clay Sharp

PART 3: WARTIME AND THE THREAT OF WAR AS JUSTIFICATION FOR SUSPENDING ETHICAL AND MORAL BEHAVIOR BY SCIENTISTS
6. Radiation in Peace and War
7. Herbicides in Peace and War

PART 4: REGULATION OF SCIENCE TO PROTECT INDIVIDUAL AND PUBLIC HEALTH
8. Thalidomide—Corporate Misconduct Masquerading as an Act of God
9. A Synthetic Estrogen with Harmful Outcomes

PART 5: THE NECESSITY OF REGULATION TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT
10. Pesticides and the Environmental Movement
11. Genetically Modified Foods—As Usual

PART 6: BASIC AND APPLIED RESEARCH IN MEDICINE
12. Medical Deception and Syphilis
13. Prenatal Diagnosis and an Alleged Eugenics through the Back Door
14. Cloning, Stem Cells, Hyperbole, and Cant
15. Assisted Reproduction and the Argument of Playing God

PART 7: ASSESSING BAD OUTCOMES
16. Quantifying Evil or Bad Outcomes
17. Science, History, and Responsibility
18. How Science Changes Our Worldview for the Better
19. How Can Good Intentions Avoid Bad Outcomes?

Index

Reviews

review:  “In his thought–provoking book Times of Triumph, Times of Doubt, [Carlson] asks why many of his young students who have turned away from careers in science feel that ‘science has let them down through its bad outcomes’. In making his analysis he includes in the scientific community not only researchers but also those responsible for the commercialization and regulation of science, such as business executives, ethicists, theologians, legislators, lawyers and journalists.”
      —Ian Wilmut, Nature

review:  “This is a well–written book, with the beginnings of a good argument in favor of patrolling science for abuse. At a time in history when genetic determinism is so seductive and widely accepted, even when we don't yet understand the relative genetic and environmental contributions to complex traits, when scientists and non–scientists alike seem to have forgotten the horrific application of eugenics in the last century—within living memory—this book is a welcome reminder that good science can have bad consequences.”
      —Anne V. Buchanan, BioEssays

review:  “The book gives a very good overview of the major issues facing scientists now and in the past. The explorations of the moral foundations of the book are so careful and simply written that it will compel the reader to reflect on her own values and beliefs. Times of Triumph, Times of Doubt will be beneficial not only for those working in medical research and ethics, but also for the general public who will find it very interesting and informative.”
      —Metapsychology Online Reviews

review:  “This book deserves to form part of all courses involving science and ethics, whether for laboratory scientists and clinicians, or for social scientists. Based on a lecture course for non–science students it is extremely clearly written, thoughtful and full of common–sense, while it adds the historical dimension that is often missing. For those in genetics it is particularly important; it will open readers’ eyes to some disturbing aspects of our science’s past and may even help in avoiding more ‘bad outcomes’ in the future.”
      —Human Genetics

review:  “Scientific insight and discovery have radically improved our lives, and science will continue to improve the human prospect: that is the core of Carlson's book. Dismayed by the public distrust of science and scientists in the early 21st century, the author argues that the vast majority of scientists have had motives that were at worst benign and often noble; they wanted to improve human life or were driven by intellectual curiosity. Science has been put to bad uses, he quickly concedes, but the transformation for the better it has made in the lives of most human beings is easily worth the price...

Carlson could not be boring if he tried, and he is at least as hard on the scientists who go wrong as he is on politicians or theologians. The story he tells should be widely read and discussed. This volume is provocative from the first to the last page. If I were grading this book, I would give it an unconventional, but richly deserved, A+.”
      —The Quarterly Review of Biology

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