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A Scientific Dichotomy

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Can no one else see it? The same day as scientists come out with a cervical cancer vaccine, the Nobel Peace Prize is given to the President of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

So, let me see if I have this right. On the one hand we have scientists working as hard as they can to enrich the lives of every woman on this planet for years to come because, believe it or not, that is what the vaccine will do. It will prevent women from having to go through the hell of cervical cancer at the prime of their lives and will stop the trauma and expense of major surgery. A wonderful, worthwhile goal that I, as a mother of three gorgeous girls, cannot help but applaud. Indeed, if I was the mother of three gorgeous boys, I would applaud it. It is laudable.

And then we have the peace prize given to the IAEA. No less laudable an aim I give you. Reducing the threat over the world from tyrants with nuclear weapons is a task like that of Sisyphus and his ever-rolling stone, but the contrast between scientists is what startles me. On the one hand, we have scientists toiling away to bring us something that will enhance all of womankind, and on the other? We have scientists working to bring about the end of the world, to enhance the militaristic regime of some junta, some small minority of people with a selfish aim.

Why doesn’t the study of science have a Hippocratic oath rather like doctors? Wouldn’t that solve the problem or at least contain it? Sure we would still have the Dr Crippens of this world but that really would be minor compared with the potential of nuclear weapons. Half the world is starving, 20, 000 have died in Pakistan – that is 20 times the toll in New Orleans, and we need scientists to help mankind, not exterminate it; to prolong our lives, not shorten them, to glorify science for a greater good, not contribute to the evil that men do.


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  • Dave Nalle

    This is the IAEA which sealed Iran’s nuclear materials and failed to remove them from the country so all the had to do was weild a bolt cutter in order to resume their nuclear development – certainly an effort worthy of a prize – more like a booby prize, though.


  • Oran Kelley

    The Hippocratic Oath having made the practice of medicine morally unambiguous in its entirety?

    Germ warfare? Dr. Mengele? Lethal injection? Pharm companies? I could go on, but I doubt very much that an oath would change much.

    Governments create pressure for weapons, they get them. And the government putting the most money and power behind weapons is the US government, which represents me and, I suspect, you.

    Collectively, we get the government, medical system and the science we deserve.

    The question isn’t why science doesn’t have a hippocratic oath, it’s what gratification your typical voter (perhaps even a typical female voter) gets out of having a government armed with the latest and greatest and most dangerous weapons?