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This Eighth Edition of TAKING SIDES: CLASHING VIEWS IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND SOCIETY presents current controversial issues in a debate-style format designed to stimulate student interest and develop critical thinking skills. Each issue is thoughtfully framed with an issue summary, an issue introduction, and a postscript. An instructor’s manual with testing material is available for each TAKING SIDES volume. USING TAKING SIDES IN THE CLASSROOM is also an excellent instructor resource with practical suggestions on incorporating this effective approach in the classroom. Each TAKING SIDES reader features an annotated listing of selected World Wide Web sites and is supported by our student website, www.mhcls.com/online.
UNIT 1 THE PLACE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN SOCIETY Issue 1. Does Politics Come Before Science in Current Government Decision Making?
YES: Union of Concerned Scientists, from Scientific Integrity in Policymaking: An Investigation into the Bush Administration's Misuse of Science (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2004)
NO: John H. Marburger, III, from "Statement on Scientific Integrity in the Bush Administration" (April 2, 2004)
The Union of Concerned Scientists argues that the Bush administration displays a clear pattern of suppression and distortion of scientific findings across numerous federal agencies. These actions have consequences for human health, public safety, and community well-being. Speaking for the Bush administration, John H. Marburger III argues that the Bush administration strongly supports science and applies the highest scientific standards in decision making, but science is only one input to the policy-making process.Issue 2. Should Government Restrict the Publication of Unclassified but "Sensitive” Research?
YES: Lewis M. Branscomb, from "The Changing Relationship Between Science and Government Post-September 11," in Albert H. Teich, Stephen D. Nelson, and Stephen J. Lita, eds., Science and Technology in a Vulnerable World (Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2002)
NO: Ronald M. Atlas, from "Securing Life Sciences Research in an Age of Terrorism," Issues in Science and Technology (Fall 2006)
Lewis M. Branscomb asserts that because the results of much scientific research have the potential to aid terrorists, there is a need to control the publication and distribution of "sensitive but unclassified" information. Ronald M. Atlas argues that voluntary measures now under development around the world will prevent misuse of life science research and help "avert government-imposed restrictions on information exchange that could be draconian in their impact."Issue 3. Should the Internet Be Neutral?
YES: Lawrence Lessig, from Testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Hearing on “Network Neutrality” (February 7, 2006)
NO: Kyle D. Dixon, from Testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Hearing on “Network Neutrality” (February 7, 2006)
Law professor Lawrence Lessig argues that imposing network-access fees on content providers would unduly interfere with innovation in an important area of the economy. Building network neutrality into law would thus keep major network companies from imposing fees and slowing the economy. Kyle D. Dixon, director of the Federal Institute for Regulatory Law & Economics at the Progress & Freedom Foundation, argues that lacking demonstrated abuses, a network neutrality law would unfairly limit corporate investment and innovation and thereby reduce consumer welfare.UNIT 2 THE ENVIRONMENT Issue 4. Should Society Act Now to Halt Global Warming?
YES: Nicholas Stern, from Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change (October 30, 2006)
NO: Bush Administration, from "Global Climate Change Policy Book" (February 2002)
Nicholas Stern, head of the British Government Economics Service, reports that although taking steps now to limit future impacts of global warming would be very expensive, the economic and social impacts of not doing so will be much more expensive. The Bush administration’s plan for dealing with global warming insists that short-term economic health must come before reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. It is more useful to reduce "greenhouse gas intensity" or emissions per dollar of economic activity than to reduce total emissions.Issue 5. Is It Time to Revive Nuclear Power?
YES: Michael J. Wallace, from Testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, Hearing on the Department of Energy's Nuclear Power 2010 Program (April 26, 2005)
NO: Karen Charman, from "Brave Nuclear World," World Watch (July/August 2006)
Michael J. Wallace argues that because the benefits of nuclear power include energy supply and price stability, air pollution control, and greenhouse gas reduction, new nuclear power plant construction—with federal support—is essential. Karen Charman argues that nuclear power's drawbacks and the promise of clean, lower-cost, less dangerous alternatives greatly weaken the case for nuclear power.Issue 6. Will Hydrogen Replace Fossil Fuels for Cars?
YES: David L. Bodde, from "Fueling the Future: The Road to the Hydrogen Economy," Statement Presented to the Committee on Research and Subcommittee on Energy, U.S. House of Representatives (July 20, 2005)
NO: Michael Behar, from "Warning: The Hydrogen Economy May Be More Distant Than It Appears," Popular Science (January 2005)
Professor David L. Bodde argues that there is no question whether hydrogen can satisfy the nation's energy needs. The real issue is how to handle the transition from the current energy system to the hydrogen system. Michael Behar argues that the public has been misled about the prospects of the "hydrogen economy." We must overcome major technological, financial, and political obstacles before hydrogen can be a viable alternative to fossil fuels.UNIT 3 HUMAN HEALTH AND WELFARE Issue 7. Do Falling Birth Rates Pose a Threat to Human Welfare?
YES: Michael Meyer , from "Birth Dearth," Newsweek (September 27, 2004)
NO: Daivd Nicholson-Lord, from "The Fewer the Better," New Statesman (November 8, 2004)
Michael Meyer argues that when world population begins to decline after about 2050, economies will no longer continue to grow, government benefits will decline, young people will have to support an elderly population, and despite some environmental benefits, quality of life will suffer. David Nicholson-Lord argues that the economic problems of population decline all have straightforward solutions. A less-crowded world will not suffer from the environmental ills attendant on overcrowding and will, overall, be a roomier, gentler, less materialistic place to live, with cleaner air and water.Issue 8. Is There Sufficient Scientific Evidence to Conclude That Cell Phones Cause Cancer?
YES: George Carlo and Martin Schram, from Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards in the Wireless Age (Carroll & Graf, 2001)
NO: United Kingdom’s National Radiation Protection Board, from Mobile Phones and Health 2004: Report by the Board of NRPB" (DOC NRPB 15(5), 2004)
Public health scientist George Carlo and journalist Martin Schram argue that there is a definite risk that the electromagnetic radiationgenerated by cell phone antennae can cause cancer and other health problems. The National Radiation Protection Board (now the Radiation Protection Division, http://www.hpa.org.uk/radiation/, of the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency) argues that there is no clear indication of adverse health effects, including cancer, from the use of mobile phones, but precautions are nevertheless in order.Issue 9. Should DDT Be Banned Worldwide?
YES: Anne Platt McGinn, from "Malaria, Mosquitoes, and DDT," World Watch (May/June 2002)
NO: Donald R. Roberts, from Statement before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, Hearing on the Role of Science in Environmental Policy-Making (September 28, 2005)
Anne Platt McGinn, a senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute, argues that although DDT is still used to fight malaria, there areother, more effective and less environmentally harmful methods. She maintains that DDT should be banned or reserved for emergency use. Donald R. Roberts argues that the scientific evidence regarding the environmental hazards of DDT has been seriously misrepresented by anti-pesticide activists. The hazards of malaria are much greater and, properly used, DDT can prevent them and save lives.Issue 10. Should Potential Risks Slow the Development of Nanotechnology?
YES: John Balbus, Richard Denison, Karen Florini, and Scott Walsh, from "Getting Nanotechnology Right the First Time," Issues in Science and Technology (Summer 2005)
NO: Mike Treder, from "Molecular Nanotech: Benefits and Risks," The Futurist (January/February 2004)
John Balbus, Richard Denison, Karen Florini, and Scott Walsh of Environmental Defense in Washington, D.C., argue that much more needs to be done to assess risks to health and the environment before nanotechnology-based products are put on the market. Mike Treder, executive director of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, argues that the task at hand is to realize the benefits of nanotechnology while averting the dangers but that attempts to control all risks may lead to abusive restrictions and wind up exacerbating the hazards.Issue 11. Are Genetically Modified Foods Safe to Eat?
YES: Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko, from "Scary Food," Policy Review (June/July 2006)
NO: Jeffrey M. Smith, from "Frankenstein Peas," The Ecologist (April 2006)
Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko of the Hoover Institution argue that genetically modified (GM) crops are safer for the consumer and better for the environment than non-GM crops. Jeffrey M. Smith argues that there are so many ways in which genetic modification may lead to health risks that it is impossible to claim "that GM crops are adequately tested, well-regulated, and safe."UNIT 4 SPACE Issue 12. Should We Expand Efforts to Find Near-Earth Objects?
YES: Joseph Burns, from Statement (for the National Research Council) before House Committee on Science (October 3, 2002)
NO: Edward Weiler, from Statement before House Committee on Science (October 3, 2002)
Professor of engineering and astronomy Joseph Burns contests that the hazards posed to life on Earth by near-Earth objects (NEOs) are great enough to justify increased efforts to detect and catalog NEOs. Scientific benefits may also be expected. Edward Weiler asserts that NASA’s present efforts to detect the larger and more hazardous NEOs are adequate. It is premature to expand the program.Issue 13. Will the Search for Extraterrestrial Life Ever Succeed?
YES: Seth Shostak, from “When Will We Detect the Extraterrestrials?” Acta Astronautica (August 2004)
NO: Peter Schenkel, from "SETI Requires a Skeptical Reappraisal," Skeptical Inquirer (May/June 2006)
Radio astronomer and SETI researcher Seth Shostak argues that if the assumptions behind the SETI search are well grounded, signals of extraterrestrial origin will be detected soon, perhaps within the next generation. Peter Schenkel argues that SETI's lack of success to date, coupled with the apparent uniqueness of Earth, suggest that intelligent life is probably rare in our galaxy and that the enthusiastic optimism of SETI proponents should be reined in.Issue 14. Is "Manned Space Travel" a Delusion?
YES: Neil deGrasse Tyson, from "Delusions of Space Enthusiasts," Natural History (November 2006)
NO: George W. Bush, from "President Bush Announces New Vision for Space Exploration Program," Office of the Press Secretary (January 14, 2004)
Astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson argues that large, expensive projects such as space exploration are driven only by war, greed, and the celebration of power. The dream of colonizing space became a delusion as soon as we beat the Russians to the Moon, and it remains so. President George W. Bush argues for his vision of renewed and expanded manned space travel because it improves our lives and lifts the national spirit.UNIT 5 THE COMPUTER REVOLUTION Issue 15. Does the Internet Strengthen Social Connections?
YES: Denise M. Carter, from "Living in Virtual Communities: Making Friends Online," Journal of Urban Technology (December 2004)
NO: Jonathon N. Cummings, Brian Butler, and Robert Kraut, from "The Quality of Online Social Relationships," Communications of the ACM (July 2002)
Denise M. Carter argues that the Internet enhances or adds to social relationships. In fact, the trust essential to successful relationships may be easier to develop online than offline. Jonathon N. Cummings, Brian Butler, and Robert Kraut maintain that online communication is less valuable for building strong social relationships than more traditional face-to-face and telephone communication.Issue 16. Does the Spread of Surveillance Technology Threaten Privacy?
YES: Julian Sanchez, from "The Pinpoint Search," Reason (January 2007)
NO: Stuart Taylor Jr., from "How Civil-Libertarian Hysteria May Endanger Us All," National Journal (February 22, 2003)
Julian Sanchez argues that new technologies make it astonishingly easy to detect transgressions of laws regarding traffic, drugs, weapons, and illegal computer files. Ordinary expectations of privacy are seriously threatened, and we face the need for difficult tradeoffs. Stuart Taylor, Jr., contends that those who object to surveillance—particularly government surveillance—have their priorities wrong. Curbing "government powers in the name of civil liberties [exacts] too high a price in terms of endangered lives."Issue 17. Should the World’s Libraries Be Digitized?
YES: Brendan Rapple, from "Google and Access to the World's Intellectual Heritage," Contemporary Review (June 2005)
NO: Keith Kupferschmid, from "Are Authors and Publishers Getting Scroogled?" Information Today (December 2005)
Brendan Rapple argues that as Google scans, indexes, and makes available for online searching the books of the world's major libraries, it will increase access, facilitate scholarship, and in general benefit human civilization. Keith Kupferschmid argues that there is no justification in law for Google's massive copying of books. If the Google Print Library Project is allowed to continue, the interests of publishers, authors, and creators of all kinds will be seriously damaged.UNIT 6 ETHICS Issue 18. Is the Use of Animals in Research Justified?
YES: Josie Appleton, from "Speciesism: A Beastly Concept: Why It Is Morally Right to Use Animals to Our Ends," Spiked-Online (February 23, 2006)
NO: Tom Regan, from "The Rights of Humans and Other Animals," Ethics and Behavior (vol. 7, no. 2, 1997)
Journalist Josie Appleton contends that a proper relationship to animals means using them for human ends, for humans are the measure of all things. Philosopher Tom Regan argues that any attempt to define what it is about being human that gives all humans moral rights must also give animals moral rights, and that therefore we have no more right to use animals as research subjects than we have to use other humans.Issue 19. Is It Ethically Permissible to Clone Human Cells?
YES: Julian Savulescu, from "Should We Clone Human Beings? Cloning as a Source of Tissue for Transplantation," Journal of Medical Ethics (April 1, 1999)
NO: David van Gend, from "Prometheus, Pandora, and the Myths of Cloning," Human Life Review (Summer/Fall 2006)
Julian Savulescu, director of the Ethics Program of the Murdoch Institute at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, arguesthat it is not only permissible but morally required to use human cloning to create embryos as a source of tissue for transplantation. Physician David van Gend argues that not only is the cloning of embryonic stem cells morally indefensible, but recent progress with adult stem cells makes it unnecessary as well.