The myth of value-free science

Melanie Challenger at IAI News:

We demand a lot from scientists. They are required to be objective, rigorous, and accurate, and to conduct their work free from the constraints of religion or politics. Few other areas of human endeavour are expected to be or valued as being so free from human error. At the same time, scientists are tasked with assessing and considering the potential consequences and applications of their work, and to act responsibly to maintain public trust in their whole system of knowledge. That is a burden that scientists must feel acutely today, as they come under attack from the instruments of misinformation.

So valued is science as an objective arbiter of reality that the freedoms of scientists are seen as a measure of an enlightened society. And yet scientific knowledge has given the world Zyklon B as well as Penicillin. As such, publics often fear science as much as they demand its boons. So, how can we better steer science towards social good? And should scientists be held responsible for the implications of their work?

More here.