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Social Consequences of Scientific Discovery

    Naturevolume 130page392 (1932) | Download Citation



    THE concern for the social consequences of the application of scientific discoveries which has been voiced by Dr. L. P. Jacks in a series of recent articles was reflected in several of the addresses and discussions at the recent British Association meetings. Dr. Jacks suggests that, instead of lending itself to the creation of endless desires, science might regard its task of giving man control over the forces of Nature as sufficiently advanced for the time being and turn its attention to the equally important task of assisting man to control himself. Recognition of this necessity was as explicit in Sir Alfred Ewing's presidential address before the British Association as in the forceful address delivered by Prof. Miles Walker to Section G (Engineering), which referred frankly to the hampering of developments by vested interests and the middleman, as well as to the value of the contribution to the improvement of the lot of mankind made by those who possess the power of devoting their whole energy to the execution of sound, practical, and beneficent projects for the sake of those projects themselves and not primarily from selfish motives or in pursuance of some irrational prejudice. Long after science has shown the way to make things better for the people, unintelligent control and stupid prejudice preserve the old evils and prevent the spread of better ways. If effective action is to be taken, now that in so many fields physical science has instructed man how to control and eliminate waste, the human sciences must show him how to control the waste forces of his own nature.

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