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Thread: Should science do research on everything? Are some things best unstudied?

  1. #1 Should science do research on everything? Are some things best unstudied? 
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    I was just having a conversation with colleagues, who are non-scientists, and had an interesting discussion.

    The general consensus is that when science goes wrong, they feel blaming scientists who came up with the knowledge, rather than the people who abuse the knowledge, is the right thing to do. The idea is that there is knowledge that the human race is just not supposed to possess at any point of time.

    Which made me think, is this the way science works now? What drives the direction and extent of our research? What factors determine whether research grants are awarded? Are there any kinds of research that are definitely off-limits, and why?


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    Forum Bachelors Degree x(x-y)'s Avatar
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    Personally, I think that all areas of science which have even the slightest potential to benefit mankind should definitely be researched. If, in science, we had the attitude of "it could be dangerous, so we won't do it" then hardly anything would get done in science- and, of course, we wouldn't live in this era of brilliant modern science today. Arguably, even the development of the nuclear weapon has advanced modern society by a huge amount- you could say that most of our current nuclear technology wouldn't be around today if nuclear weapons had not been developed.


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    Quagma SpeedFreek's Avatar
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    It is all a question of ethics, really. Consider stem cell research, for instance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
    It is all a question of ethics, really. Consider stem cell research, for instance.
    It's amazing how millions (maybe an exaggeration, but probably not considering Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and their followers; as well as Middle Eastern countries etc) of people are still against stem cell research- yet most stem cells used for this field of science come from the umbilical cords of babies, so there isn't much to have against it really.
    "Nature doesn't care what we call it, she just does it anyway" - R. Feynman
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    I'm not a physics person, so I was wondering what kind of nuclear technology we have apart from weapons?


    I agree that many dangerous things have benefitted us in other ways in the modern world, like the jet engine from WW2 allowing modern transport to be so easy. So at this point, are there any kinds of science knowledge that the scientific community wishes was never attained at all?
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    Quote Originally Posted by miwashi View Post
    I'm not a physics person, so I was wondering what kind of nuclear technology we have apart from weapons?
    Nuclear power plants, radioactive isotope production for medical diagnosis in PET scans, irradiation for sterilization, and radiotherapy for cancer treatment.

    Quote Originally Posted by miwashi View Post
    I agree that many dangerous things have benefitted us in other ways in the modern world, like the jet engine from WW2 allowing modern transport to be so easy. So at this point, are there any kinds of science knowledge that the scientific community wishes was never attained at all?
    No, I don't think there is anything that I regret knowing, there are certainly uses of things one can regret.

    However, even the nuclear bomb may in the long run save lives. It has made war between super powers too costly to be worthwhile. Eventually, someone will think of a way to effectively neutralize the risk of nuclear missiles, then we may be in trouble again. The rogue use of nuclear weapons is of course a remote possibility, but one would hope that even in the event that such a tragedy would occur, that the world leaders would have the sense not to destroy everything.
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    Quote Originally Posted by x(x-y) View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
    It is all a question of ethics, really. Consider stem cell research, for instance.
    It's amazing how millions (maybe an exaggeration, but probably not considering Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and their followers; as well as Middle Eastern countries etc) of people are still against stem cell research- yet most stem cells used for this field of science come from the umbilical cords of babies, so there isn't much to have against it really.
    Perhaps I should have been a little more explicit. Consider embryonic stem cell research, for instance, and you might see why it is all a question of ethics.
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    "Nuclear energy" was once over-hyped such that people eat it, smother it to skin, and irradiated their eyes for good health!
    This is the bad stuff regarding new science; you only knew a little bit about it but then started to get overly excited about it (with hype and promise).
    For example: if science suggest telomerese is key to aging, then someone would start selling telomerese enzyme and eaten it without consideration.

    In contrary, nation with late exposure to nuclear technology never displayed such horror.
    This is because people never hear such crazy promise anymore...
    The science is still there (looping on itself like usual), but nobody will meddle with it... ever...
    Last edited by msafwan; August 3rd, 2011 at 06:52 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by x(x-y) View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedFreek View Post
    It is all a question of ethics, really. Consider stem cell research, for instance.
    It's amazing how millions (maybe an exaggeration, but probably not considering Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and their followers; as well as Middle Eastern countries etc) of people are still against stem cell research- yet most stem cells used for this field of science come from the umbilical cords of babies, so there isn't much to have against it really.
    There isn't any opposition to stem cell research that does not involve fetuses.
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  11. #10  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    Embryonic stem cell research doesn't involve fetuses either, they are donated from unimplanted embryos produced during the artificial insemination process.
    "I almost went to bed
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    the four white violets
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    of your green sweater

    and how i kissed you then
    and you kissed me
    shy as though I'd
    never been your lover "
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  12. #11  
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    As a general rule I think the only research we shouldn't do is that which directly harms people and animals.

    Of course research money being limited we for the most part put our money into areas which we think have benefits (e.g. medical research), to avoid great harm (e.g., climate research) or conduct war.
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