Science and Social Problems


    IN a lecture on “The Man of Science and the Science of Man” delivered at the University of Liverpool on December 7, a copy of which reached us recently, Prof. J. L. Myres discusses the responsibility of science for social disorder. Much of the current confusion of thought in this matter he attributes to the common failure to distinguish discovery from invention, and, more dangerous still, the engineer or inventor from employers or exploiters who require an immediate solution of a particular practical problem in applied science for their own purpose. The man of science has an individual moral responsibility for the full use of his specific powers in investigating Nature and rationalising the world around him, and the growth of personal responsibilities, with the concurrent graver risks of personal abuse, provides some of our most serious social and international problems. One of the problems to which thought has not yet been adequately applied in this way is the problem of leisure, which is one with that of unemployment or dis-employment through the growth of rationalisation or mechanisation of industry. For this our system of education, and particularly the high degree of specialisation in the training of students of science, are largely to blame and Prof. Myres enters an eloquent plea for expositors of science who are competent to impart to the general community something of the spirit and methods of science, so as to afford them an adequate general scientific background for the life they lead in this highly technical age.

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    Science and Social Problems. Nature 134, 17 (1934).

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