Does Science Do Harm?

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“Science extends and enriches our lives, expands our imagination and liberates us from the bonds of ignorance and superstition” (American Physical Society , 2019). Without science, the modern world that exists today would not be possible because every convenience enjoyed by mankind is the outcome of scientific research and development. This scientific development has enabled man to explore every facet of life including outer space. In doing so, there is a continuous growth of understanding and knowledge of how all things work and interact with each other. However, science does not always reap positive outcomes.

There is a constant cause and effect relationship with scientific development and use, and mankind through science has done a great deal of harm to humans, animals and the planet as a whole. Considering this it can be said that man’s ability to progress in science may be more achievable than his ability to reverse the damages caused by it. Science has improved the life of mankind over the last 100 years, but the world has suffered great side effects such as Pollution from Industrialization, Negative Side Effects of Advanced Medicine, Loss of Humanity through Technology and arguably a Loss of Morals and Ethics through scientific abilities to create. According to the Oxford Dictionary, Pollution is the presence or introduction of harmful or poisonous substances into the environment (Oxford Dictionaries, 2019). Statistics show that the most prominent form of pollution is air pollution. It is caused by industries burning of fossil fuels, vehicle emissions (cars, boats and planes), fumes from daily use items such as aerosols and paints and the landfills which hold man’s garbage.

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Therefore, pollution is a result of human activity and science. All modern utilities are scientific discoveries, for example, the beauty industry has invented hairspray, deodorant and shaving cream all held in aerosol cans. Aerosol cans can be found in almost every household and it seems harmless because it is safe for human use however aerosol cans are harmful to the atmosphere. These cans contain Chlorofluorocarbons or CFC a chemical which is manmade and does not naturally occur in nature. Man, through science gave the world a convenient and portable storage container for beauty and other products but the side effect of this convenience is the contribution to smog and the depletion of the Ozone Layer which protects us from harmful, cancer-causing UV rays of the sun. Scientists Frank Rowland and Mario Molina were responsible for advocating the ban of CFC use due to its harmful effects on the air and the Ozone. They explained this using scientific methodology on how mankind and science contributed to air pollution. These scientists were among the first advocates to push policymakers to initiate a climate change policy in 1987 (Baum, 2017). This is just one example of man trying to reverse the negative effects of industrialization however, this science is slow because industrialization continues to push forward and outweigh remedial efforts.

Advanced medicine has revolutionized the way illnesses are treated. The life expectancy today compared to the earlier people of the world has increased due to the advancement in the science of health care. Today when a person feels ill, he or she can almost immediately get a diagnosis with the help of modern science and its medical equipment. However, there are many negative side effects of modern medicine and machines. In some cases, the side effects may overshadow the cure of the illness itself. The first negative side effect of modern health care is stress on the patient. Medical care is expensive, and many people do not have the means to access this care which can lead to anxiety and stress-related disorders. Secondly, some patients need to undergo Computerized Tomography (CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans to find the source of their illness. Although useful, these scans expose the patient to cancer-causing radiation which can later cause the development of a new illness. Finally, the mass production of medicine has triggered mass consumption. Mankind is heavily reliant on pills and quick-fix solutions for every bodily discomfort. This overmedication has caused a decrease in natural resistance to bacteria, viruses and disease. Also, there is the onset of new illnesses caused by the consumption of the drugs themselves.

The science of medicine has indeed helped mankind but on a scale, the negative costs outweigh the good (Frances, 2013). “Native Americans and Aborigines refused to be photographed because they believed that cameras stole part of their soul” (Cooper, 2015). Today almost everyone holds a camera, and some will say that these cameras have indeed stolen the souls of many. Technology is advancing and making life easier every day. Mankind has become almost totally reliant upon technology because this science controls the world. Technology brings the world together as man enjoys this age of information. However, this three-screen society (telephone, television and computer) has only alienated man from each other. E. Cashmore et al. describe this phenomenon as screen addiction were the use of technology is habitual, involves unusually long hours and causes irritation without it. Man wants instant gratification and technology provides this. (Ellis Cashmore, 2018). Instead of enjoying a moment for its worth, every detail of life is now seen through a camera lens and posted to social media. There are many reported cases of tragedies in action where instead of lending a helping hand people stand with their camera phones in hand only to capture an event to post it. Man’s sense of humanity and compassion has been lost through technology in all areas of life. Human emotion has been replaced with false imagery, emojis and machines. The science that was meant to enhance life has now made every user its slave due to gross misuse.

Technological development was supposed to boost communication, make work easier and more productive, and to cultivate healthy habits. However, this is not the case of all users, technology has instead resulted in physical disconnection, loss of personality, depression, and anomie because the negative uses outweigh the productive uses in daily life. “Science and technology are constantly pitting man and values against each other” (New Scientist Ltd, 2019). Science has created ways in which the life of mankind can be greatly improved. Through science, man has learned how to cure disease, solve problems, increase food production and many other things. However, science has also brought about many ethical dilemmas which for years has been the cause of great debate among many groups within society. For many decades the question has been asked, has mankind lost its sense of morality and humanity? Science in technology as created artificial life forms, genetically modified plants and animals, and even genetically modified humans to an extent. Has science gone too far? According to Paul Root Wolpe, science is the driving force that pushes boundaries in the modern world. He established that most scientists are not formally trained in ethics and rely on others to set standards and guidelines for the development of technology (Wolpe, 2006).

Considering this fact is can be said that science and ethics are two opposing forces and the deeper that man delves into science, the further he gets from morals and ethics. For example, in 2017 The New York Times published an article about the development of sex robots for rapists. However, the creations came under severe attack as several groups described the technology as an instrument to normalize immoral acts and create moral ambiguity. Science should not perpetuate crime even though the eyes of scientists it is artificial (Bates, 2017). Scientific development should not omit the fundamental values of mankind because humanity should always be on the forefront. It is not development when science erases man’s moral code. In conclusion, science is important. Mankind needs science to move forward and have a continually improved standard of living. However, over the years this improvement has become clouded because continuous development has accrued continuous costs to man and the Earth. These costs are man’s health, the destruction of nature and the contamination of man’s mind, body and external environment. Science has done more harm than good, and it can be seen in the news, through windows and in every aspect of life. It has become a destructive force that cannot be stopped because it is mankind’s necessary evil for survival. The tool of necessity has become a weapon of mass destruction because man does first consider the balance of life or the devastating after effects and how to fix them before it is too late.

As much as there is benefit, there should be control and moderation because science and technology has been a direct contributor to many of man’s problems such as pollution, health problems, loss of empathy for each other, a lack of respect for nature and its necessity for our survival, depression, lack of moral and ethical boundaries, and violence. Man has lost control of science and the onus is on him to regain this control because the thirst for knowledge and the rapidly changing mindset of mankind can one day lead to his extinction.

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Does Science Do Harm? (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 24, 2024, from
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