I wish to start by saying that science as science is good. As an attept to appreciate the way that the physical phenomena of the world operate science is invaluable. The first thing I ever wanted to be when I was a kid was a scientist. Of the kind that goes around the world and studies animals that is. There is no question in my mind that the advances of the past two centuries in terms of scientific knowledge have been supremely good, and I would have to say that I question the sanity and reasonableness of any person who would put themself in a position of being “anti-science”  and who said that this was of only negative value. However, this does not mean that I see science as an absolute and unqualified good. I woud not be alive were it not for the advances of modern scinece and medicine, but that does not mean that there aren’t negative tendencies and pitfalls that a society whose only central focus is science and that has a nearly absolute trust in science.

It is generally not science (i.e the study of natural phenomena) itself that leads to these problems but there is a mentality that can crop up from an implicit trust in science that is not only potentially destructive but that hampers true personal growth for people. Case in point, I have no problem with psychology for people that suffer from true and severe mental disorders, going to a psychiatrist is absolutely necessary in these circumstances in order to get the person healthy. But pop psychology has so invaded the popular culture that it seems that everything is a mental disorder to the point that people assauge personal responsibility for their problems. “I’m not a mean person, I just have a mental disorder” “It’s not that I’m greedy its that I suffer from an increased desire to acquire wealth” I wonder how much of current problems could be adjusted simply by people re-examining and commiting to personal values. I wonder how many people that are just plain immoral write off their behavior as the fault of a disease. This kind of culture can prevent people from personal growth. The sciences that that relate to human behavior get especially sticky in this regard. There are books in the field of “evolutionary psychology” that try to tie character traits and personal tendencies to the development and evolution of the species through time. Some of these insights are valuable and again I’m not trying to say this is total BS but when you start examining the practice of raper from an evolutionary standpoint you run the risk of making people think their behavior is justified because of evolutionary means. Science can inform values, but it cannot create them. All too often people with strong scientific backgrounds make values judgements that are not implicitly related to their data without actually being aware of or informing their readers. When scientists fail to make this distinction clear they can lead people to believe to believe that what they are saying is just the “scientific”  point of view and thus is obviously true.

The clearest and most publicly aware problem of science is of course the “mad scientist problem” which is the stuff that horror, science fiction, and action movies are made of. Having the ability to do something doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea. There are all sorts of fine tuned ethical issues that advances in science have created that previously were not known. Science itself can’t really solve most of these issues, but many in society seem to think they can. I think this might be a good reason to include “values education” and or ethics in the educational system. Currently there is a lot of focus on math, reading, art, science without any kind of ethical information at all in classes. I understand that many people would view this as a job for parents and family (and I would agree that parents teaching values IS very important) but the reality is that many parents don’t educate their children on values, and its important for a child to have this kind of education at least on a basic level.

Science is an important part of the world but it is important that we recognize that it is only a small part of the world. One of the more enlightening passages in one of my college biology textbooks was when it described science as “the search for and study of the natural causes and effects of natural phenomena”. Thats it!  No More. No Less. I know that may not be absolutely everyone’s definition but it sounds good to me. It doesn’t assume there aren’t other aspects of the Cosmos. It doesn’t say that natural phenomena and their material causes and effects are the only thing in the Universe, only that that is the area of study of science. If people accepted that and the benefits that that study can provide. If they recognized that there might be more to life than that or that scientist cannot answer for all the issues in the world, and most importantly if people recognized that personal responsibility is at play in the world I do think there could be some improvement in society.