23 Dec '11, 4pm

Is Confidence in Science as a Source of Progress Based on Faith or Fact?

The prospect that scientists have created a lethal strain of avian flu and are on the verge of publishing their technique in the world’s leading scientific journal has reopened the debate over science’s aspiration to ‘universal knowledge’ in two distinct senses: Should science investigate everything, and should its findings be made available to everyone? Doubts on both fronts pertain to the potential evil that might be unleashed, either by will or by accident. That the doubts should center so clearly on evil consequences betrays the theological origins of the concern. From the serpent in the Garden of Eden to the Cartesian demon of modern skepticism, evil is always portrayed as something that simulates good in nearly all respects. Yet knee-jerk moves to censor and otherwise restrict scientific inquiry threaten to compound rather than the remove the evil in question. Here w...

Full article: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/23/is-confidenc...

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The prospect that scientists have created a lethal strain of avian flu and are on the verge of publishing their technique ...

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