Avoiding “Perverted Science”: The Dangers of Willful Ignorance

Pollack, Robert

The American Council of Learned Societies recently asked me to address the topic, "What is the scholar's obligation to the larger public?" This is an easy question. A scholar's obligation is always the same: to speak truth to power. The alternatives -- to lie to power, or to tell the truth but only to one's colleagues -- always end up contributing to a mess at best, or a disaster at worst. The idea that scientists, in particular, can avoid dealing with the political consequences of their work has never sat well with me. As I study the roots of my own field -- human genetics -- I am struck by the magnitude of the problems that have stemmed from my profession's capacity for willful innocence.


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Academic Units
Biological Sciences
Union Theological Seminary
Published Here
March 4, 2024