What Are A Scientist’s Responsibilities To Society And Science?

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Victor Frankenstein began his experiment with an overly simplistic understanding of his responsibilities as a scientist. Only after creating his monster did he pause to reflect upon his full responsibility. His true failure was not in his creation, for his creation was truly a miraculous scientific accomplishment. Frankenstein's failure was in abandoning his creation when he should have nurtured the monster, thus seeing the responsibility through to a more acceptable conclusion. His experiment was not beyond his educated skills; it was, however, beyond his maturity of experience. He met his primary responsibility to further science; however, he failed to do this responsibly.

President Bush was recently faced with a similar ethical and moral dilemma.

Should he allow federal dollars to fund our best scientists' pursuits of stretching the bounds through stem cell research? After extensive input and lobbying from every side of the issue, he chose to push the science envelope in search of cures for diseases, but he also added controls to insure science is conducted in a responsible manner.

A new scientific drama, not unlike Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, is unfolding before our very eyes. Only time will tell whether the scientists involved are capable of handling this enormous opportunity in a responsible way.