Scientists play a major role in society today, in that they are trying to find solutions that will eventually help out the society and improve the worth of living. It has been this way since the idea of science was started, and science will most likely continue having a major affect on the society as new ideas and discoveries are made. Society is directly affected by science because as new ideas are being thought up and tested it can bring negative or positive outcomes to the people they were discovered for. As science evolves and gets more and more complicated, so does the society and it can bring major drawbacks along with it.
Galileo was a scientist who had a lot of trouble dealing with his society. His society was very uneducated and did not want to hear anything about change or advancements. The society back then was stubborn and would not even care to listen to Galileo. Galileo was looked at as a tyrant and a bad man, for putting ideas in people’s heads that were originally thought of as crazy. His findings, we know now, cannot be any truer, but because of the way of the society his comrades did not accept his ideas and discoveries. In Galileo’s case, the society merely just delayed the advancement of science and made Galileo’s life much harder than it should have been. In one of the letters from his daughter it is shown how awfully he was punished for his ideas.
“Just as suddenly and unexpectedly as word of your new torment reached me, Sire, so intensely did it pierce my soul with pain to hear the judgment that has finally been passed, denouncing your person as harshly as your book (Sobel 278-279).”
As you can see he was not only denounced for his discoveries, but also for himself as a person. He did not do anything that would give reason for the society to ridicule him as a person, but because they did not agree with his work they found him to be a radical person altogether.
As science has advanced, so has the relationship between it and the society. The society is no longer able to ignore the fact that we are evolving and can no longer disagree with a discovery that has been proven. A major issue that science directly affects nowadays is the issue of genetic engineering to help aid world hunger. World hunger is a major issue in the society, but many people feel science is taking advantage of the problem and using it towards their benefit. The potential benefits of genetically engineered foods, like expanding food supply and helping to alleviate world hunger, are exciting, but at the same time of some concern. There are real concerns on biodiversity, the ecosystem, and people’s safety if such food has not been tested properly and guaranteed to be safe (Karutz 1998). The reason that we still question if genetically engineered food could be dangerous is because there has been no adequate testing to ensure that extracting genes that perform an apparently useful function as part of a plant or animal is going to have the same effects if inserted in totally unrelated species. It may be that in the long term, genetically engineered food could provide us with benefits and be a safe alternative, but the society feels we cannot know at this time due to lack of testing.
Genetically engineered food could be a great resource in the future, but as of right now the society looks at it as a danger. They feel it is just providing people who can already afford food more food. The poor people who cannot afford food would still not be able to afford the food even though there is more. They also feel that the health risks are unknown due to a lack of testing, and do not feel safe with the product (Rosset 1999).
As you can see, society is nervous about the advancement of science because they feel it could be very harmful to them as well as others. Scientists do not really take the time anymore to explain everything to the society. This angers the society and just creates more questioning and problems when testing is started. The main affect society has on science is slowing it down. If the society just went along with their everyday lives and ignored the science part of life, science would be able to move at a more rapid pace.
Nabakov is another scientist who was affected by the society. Many people disagreed with his form of research and still do not agree with what he did. They did not like how he took live specimens of animals and used them as guinea pigs. The society had a major problem with this because of the chance of extinction. Nabakov was capturing very rare types of species and using them for his benefit. Society looked badly towards him and slowed his work down mightily.
The difference between Nabakov and genetic engineering is that Nabakov was not affecting the society directly. His form of work did not hurt the lives of any individual human person, it mainly just affected animals and human morals. The reason society had a problem with it was because of the way it feels towards all matters of life. Also, the entire society was not against Nabakov. Some people had no problem with his research and this made for controversy. With genetic engineering the affect is directly on the society, and there is much more concern towards it. People feel that if there is a risk issue, the testing should not go on. The thing the people don’t realize is that there is always a risk factor involved.
The society not only affects what scientists are able to do, but it also encourages people to enter the profession of being a scientist. Barbara McClintock, Oliver Sacks, and Don Asher are three scientists who entered the profession of science because of the people around them. The three were raised in environments that were full of science. They had family members who were part of the profession and therefore they decided to do something in their lives that related to science. The society in this case was the families of the three scientists. Without their society being science based as they grew up they would most likely not be in the science profession.
Science and society work hand in hand together. Whether the society has a positive or a negative enforcement on science is totally up to what is being tested or created. Society today is much more apt to accepting what scientists do because it has seen what wonders it can do towards improving conditions in life. A few hundred years ago society was more obtuse and did not want anything new to come along. They did not want change in the society, but as has been proven it cannot happen. As science zooms off into the unknown, society holds on to the tail of it and tries to help steer it in the right direction. Society should be looked on as a good affect to the advancement of science because it helps make sure the danger is taken into account. It sometimes gets too involved with the logistics of the science, but most people feel it is for the better of the world. Science needs society to keep them on track with what they are doing, and in the same respect, society needs science to help them have a better condition of life to live with. Science is a wonderful thing that helps our society in so many ways. Without the two of them working together the world would be a less entertaining place to live in. It gives people something to do with their lives and increases the quality of life just as well.