Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Science, Technology, and Society

Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Science, Technology, and Society

by Thomas A. Easton

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780072917130
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies, The
Publication date: 04/19/2004
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 372
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

PART 1. The Place of Science and Technology in Society

ISSUE 1. Should Society Restrict the Publication of Unclassified but ‘Sensitive’ Research?

YES: Lewis M. Branscomb, from “The Changing Relationship Between Science and Government Post-September 11,” Science and Technology in a Vulnerable World (Washington, DC: Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2002)

NO: Charles M. Vest, from “Response and Responsibility: Balancing Security and Openness in Research and Education,” Report of the President for the Academic Year 2001-2002 (Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2002)

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. Charles M. Vest maintains that the rapid progress of science and technology depends critically on openness of publication of and access to research results.

ISSUE 2. Is Science a Faith?

YES: Daniel Callahan, from “Calling Scientific Ideology to Account,” Society (May/June 1996)

NO: Richard Dawkins, from “Is Science a Religion?” The Humanist (January/February 1997)

Bioethicist Daniel Callahan argues that science’s domination of the cultural landscape unreasonably excludes other ways of understanding nature and the world and sets it above any need to accept moral, social, and intellectual judgment from political,religious, and even traditional values. Biologist Richard Dawkins maintains that science “is free of the main vice of religion, which is faith” because it relies on evidence and logic instead of tradition, authority, and revelation.

ISSUE 3. Should Creationism and Evolution Get Equal Time in Schools?

YES: Richard J. Clifford, from “Creationism’s Value?” America (March 11, 2000)

NO: Marjorie George, from “And Then God Created Kansas? The Evolution/Creationism Debate in America’s Public Schools,” University of Pennsylvania Law Review (January 2001)

Richard J. Clifford, a professor of biblical studies, argues that although modern creationism is flawed, excluding the Bible and religion from American public education is indefensible. He maintains that schools should be places where religious beliefs are treated with respect. Professor of political science Marjorie George argues that the U.S. Constitution and the Supreme Court have created a solid wall between the educational system and religion. Despite the efforts of creationists to find ways around or through that wall, she holds, religion “can play no role in the classroom.”

PART 2. The Environment

ISSUE 4. Do We Face a "Population Problem"?

YES: Lester R. Brown, Gary Gardner, and Brian Halweil, from “Sixteen Impacts of Population Growth,” The Futurist (February 1999)

NO: Stephen Moore, from “Body Count: Population and Its Enemies,” National Review (October 25, 1999)

Lester R. Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute, and Worldwatch researchers Gary Gardner and Brian Halweil argue that population growth is straining the Earth’s ability to support humanity and that population must therefore be stabilized. Stephen Moore, director of the Cato Institute, argues that the population-control ethic is a threat both to freedom and to the principle that every human life has intrinsic value.

ISSUE 5. Should Society Act Now to Halt Global Warming?

YES: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, from “Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis,” A Report of Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2001)

NO: Kevin A. Shapiro, from “Too Darn Hot,” Commentary (June 2001)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that global warming appears to be real, with strong effects on sea level, ice cover, and rainfall patterns to come, and that human activities—particularly emissions of carbon dioxide—are to blame. Neuroscience researcher Kevin A. Shapiro argues that past global warming predictions have been wrong and that the data do not support calls for immediate action to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.

ISSUE 6. Do Environmentalists Overstate Their Case?

YES: Ronald Bailey, from “Debunking Green Myths,” Reason (February 2002)

NO: David Pimentel, from “Skeptical of the Skeptical Environmentalist,” Skeptic (Volume 9, No. 2, 2002)

Environmental journalist Ronald Bailey argues that the natural environment is not in trouble, despite the arguments of many environmentalists that it is. He holds that the greatest danger facing the environment is not human activity but “ideological environmentalism, with its hostility to economic growth and technological progress.” David Pimentel, a professor of insect ecology and agricultural sciences, argues that those who contend that the environment is not threatened are using data selectively and that the supply of basic resources to support human life is declining rapidly.

ISSUE 7. Will Hydrogen Replace Fossil Fuels for Cars?

YES: Jeremy Rifkin, from “The Soul of Green Machines,” Sierra (July/August 2002)

NO: Henry Payne and Diane Katz, from “Gas and Gasbags...or, The Open Road and Its Enemies,” National Review (March 25, 2002)

Social activist Jeremy Rifkin asserts that fossil fuels are approaching the end of their usefulness and that hydrogen fuel holds the potential not only to replace them but also to reshape society. Henry Payne and Diane Katz maintain that hydrogen can only be made widely available if society invests heavily in nuclear power. Market mechanisms will keep fossil fuels in play for years to come.

PART 3. Health

ISSUE 8. Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer?

YES: George Carlo and Martin Schram, from Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards in the Wireless Age: An Insider’s Alarming Discoveries About Cancer and Genetic Damage (Carroll & Graf, 2001)

NO: Tamar Nordenberg, from “Cell Phones and Brain Cancer: No Clear Connection,” FDA Consumer (November–December 2000)

Public health scientist George Carlo and journalist Martin Schram argue that there is a definite risk that the electromagnetic radiation generated by cell phone antennae can cause cancer and other health problems. Freelance journalist Tamar Nordenberg argues that although research is continuing, so far the evidence does not indicate that there is any clear connection between cell phones and cancer.

ISSUE 9. Do Vaccines Cause Autism?

YES: Marnie Ko, from “Safe from What?” Report/Newsmagazine (September 23, 2002)

NO: Roger Bernier, from “Vaccine Safety and Autism,” Testimony before the House Committee on Government Reform (June 19, 2002)

Investigative reporter Marnie Ko reports that vaccines, many of which use a mercury compound as a preservative, are associated with numerous cases of childhood autism and other conditions. Vaccines are not adequately tested for safety Roger Bernier, Associate Director for Science, National Immunization Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, asserts that numerous studies fail to show that vaccines cause autism, and the mercury-containing preservative is no longer used for childhood vaccines in any event. Further research into vaccine safety is under way.

ISSUE 10. Should DDT Be Banned Worldwide?

YES: Anne Platt McGinn, from “Malaria, Mosquitoes, and DDT,” World Watch (May/June 2002)

NO: Roger Bate, from “A Case of the DDTs,” National Review (May 14, 2001)

Anne Platt McGinn, a senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute, argues that although DDT is still used to fight malaria, there are other, more effective and less environmentally harmful methods. She maintains that DDT should be banned or reserved for emergency use. Roger Bate, director of Africa Fighting Malaria, asserts that DDT is the cheapest and most effective way to combat malaria and that it should remain available for use.

PART 4. Space

ISSUE 11. 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 12. Is the Search for Extraterrestrial Life Doomed to Fail?

YES: Stephen Webb, from “Where is Everybody? Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life” ( Copernicus Books, 2002)

NO: Seth Shostak, from “SETI’s Prospects Are Bright,” Mercury (September/October 2002)

Physicist Stephen Webb argues that "the one gleaming, hard fact in the whole debate [is] that we have not been visited by" extraterrestrial intelligences. The only way to reconcile this fact with everything else we know is to conclude that we are the only intelligent species around. Radio astronomer and SETI researcher Seth Shostak disputes Zuckerman’s points and contends that the only way to find extraterrestrial intelligence is to keep looking.

ISSUE 13. Should NASA Continue to Pursue Manned Space Exploration?

YES: John Derbyshire, from “After Columbia,” National Review (February 24, 2003)

NO: John Merchant, from “Expanded and Updated from: A New Direction In Space,” IEEE Technology and Societ (Winter 1994)

Conservative writer John Derbyshire contests that although manned space flight is expensive, it is a romantic enterprise with a place in the American spirit. John Merchant, a retired staff engineer at Loral Infrared and Imaging Systems, maintains that it will be much cheaper to develop electronic senses and remotely operated machines humans can use to explore other worlds.


ISSUE 14. Does the Internet Strengthen Community?

YES: John B. Horrigan, from “Online Communities: Networks that Nurture Long-Distance Relationships and Local Ties,” Pew Internet & American Life Project (October 2001)

NO: Jonathon N. Cummings, Brian Butler, and Robert Kraut, from “The Quality of Online Social Relationships,” Communications of the ACM (July 2002)

John B. Horrigan asserts that when people go online, they form both relationships with distant others who share their interests and strengthen their involvement with their local communities. 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 15. Does the War on Terrorism Threaten Privacy?

YES: J. Michael Waller, from “Fears Mount Over ’Total’ Spy System,” Insight on the News (December 24, 2002)

NO: Stuart Taylor, Jr., from “How Civil-Libertarian Hysteria May Endager Us All,” National Journal (February 22, 2003)

Writer J. Michael Waller describes objections to the Defense Department’s proposed effort to search through government and commercial databases in search of patterns of behavior that can identify terrorists ("Total Information Awareness") and argues that it indeed threatens a severe invasion of privacy. Stuart Taylor, Jr., contests that the objectors have their priorities wrong: curbing "government powers in the name of civil liberties [exacts] too high a price in terms of endangered lives."

ISSUE 16. Will Screens Replace Pages?

YES: Steve Ditlea, from “The Real E-Books,” Technology Review (July/August 2000)

NO: Stephen Sottong, from “E-Book Technology: Waiting for the ‘False Pretender’,” Information Technology & Libraries (June 2001)

Writer Steve Ditlea argues that computers can simplify publishing, improve access to readers, and enhance the reading experience and that e-books are becoming both practical and popular. Librarian Stephen Sottong argues that e-books are not cheap, readable, or durable enough to replace paper books and that they pose special problems for libraries.

PART 6. Ethics

ISSUE 17. Is the Use of Animals in Research Justified?

YES: Mark Matfield, from “Animal Experimentation: The Continuing Debate,” Nature Reviews, Drug Discovery (February 2002)

NO: Steven Zak, from “Ethics and Animals,” The Atlantic Monthly (March 1989)

Mark Matfield summarizes the history of protests against the use of animals in research and argues that the research community needs to play a greater part in communicating the benefits of animal use and the commitment of the researchers themselves to protecting and regulating the welfare of laboratory animals. Research attorney Steven Zak maintains that current animal protection laws do not adequately protect animals used in medical and other research and that, for society to be virtuous, it must recognize the rights of animals not to be sacrificed for human needs.

ISSUE 18. Should Genetically Modified Foods Be Banned?

YES: Martin Teitel and Kimberly A. Wilson, from Genetically Engineered Food: Changing the Nature of Nature (Park Street Press, 2001)

NO: Ronald Bailey, from “Dr. Strangelunch,” Reason (January 2001)

Activists Martin Teitel and Kimberly A. Wilson argue that genetically modified foods should be banned until their safety for human consumption has been demonstrated. Ronald Bailey, science correspondent for Reason magazine, argues that because genetically modified foods can save lives, they should be available to those who need them.

ISSUE 19. Is It Ethically Permissible to Clone Human Beings?

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: Leon R. Kass, from “The Wisdom of Repugnance,” The New Republic (June 2, 1997)

Julian Savulescu, director of the Ethics Program of the Murdoch Institute at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, argues that it is not only permissible but morally required to use human cloning to create embryos as a source of tissue for transplantation. Biochemist Leon R. Kass argues that human cloning is “so repulsive to contemplate” that it should be prohibited entirely.

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