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August 8, 2011 | by  | in News |
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Smart Brit Disses Science

Famed science professor and presenter of Child of Our Time and The Human Body, Lord Robert Winston, delivered a free public lecture at the Wellington Opera House on Tuesday afternoon.

The lecture focused on the fallibility of science and, especially, the scientists who perform it.

“Scientists are not heroes,” Lord Winston pointed out. He emphasised that science is not the noble, selfless profession we like to imagine it as—on the contrary, it is just as competitive and testosterone-fuelled as any other profession.

In their desperation to be the “first” to discover some- thing, scientists often transgress ethical norms. The most prominent example given by Lord Winston was Dr Joseph Mengele, the Nazi “Angel of Death”.

Lord Winston also emphasised that the inventions which come out of scientific endeavour are often unpredictable and can have negative consequences if not utilised responsibly.

Examples included the use of evermore efficient trawling technology leading to the overfishing of European fish stocks, to the point where once-common species are now threatened with extinction.

However, the lecture was not all doom-and-gloom. Lord Winston also drew attention to some of science’s most astonishing achievements—such as a genetically-engineered mouse which could run at sprint speed, much faster than a normal mouse, for three hours straight.

Such technology, he said, has great potential to increase the quality of human life, but the key was to ensure that it is used ethically and responsibly.

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