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Prof Jim Malone

Dark Sides to Science

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Dark Sides to Science

Contemporary versions of the science – religion exchange pit them against each other with religion as a dark force restricting man and submerging him/her for centuries in superstition.  Science, in this narrative, appears as a shining beacon leading man out of the darkness bringing freedom, enlightenment and plenty.  Yet science has its own dark side(s) and these become more evident as its importance in our lives increases.

As with other areas of life, the real challenges to science come from within.  Examples will be presented of three significant defects, including fraud, misuse of science in medicine, and the fact that its agenda can be captured by vested interests.  These problems do not represent a failure of the scientific method but, it is arguable that they have become sufficiently embedded to be a real cause for concern.  Some feel that religion undermines science, yet the real risks to it are more likely to come from these internal problems.

Science is one of the most powerful and consistent ways through which we get to know the world.  We inherited a methodology from Boyle that underwrites its reliability.  We will speculate on what Boyle might have thought of some of the dark sides of 21st century science.

Jim Malone is Robert Boyle Professor (Emeritus) of Medical Physics at Trinity College Dublin and Director of the Robert Boyle Foundation.  He is a Consultant with the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna since 2006, a regular contributor to the European School of Medical Physics in Geneva, and was Dean of the School of Medicine/Faculty of Health Sciences at Trinity College.  He has broad interests in the humanities and directed two Merriman Summer Schools.  He has been reading Boyle’s work in its original format for over 25 years.

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