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Mertonian Norms

The ideas that Robert Merton introduced allowed for more collaboration within the field of science. CUDOS  was a set of “norms” that promoted a higher level of thinking within the science community.  As we saw in our example in class, there were examples in history that would’ve benefitted from certain CUDOS norms.  As beneficial as the Mertonian norms seem, I would like to talk about the potential detriments that these ideas may cause.

First, although communalism may promote collaboration and ideas of teamwork, it also reduces incentive. Why would one scientist want to go above and beyond to find a scientific breakthrough when he can merely rely on other to further his work? There is no personal drive to be the best as all findings will be rewarded to the group of people and not individuals. Universalism is a concept that would allow for a more inclusive space. Letting anyone contribute to science would provide more literature, but the quality of work would be in question. How could you take a young scientist’s word if he is not established in his field yet. It allows for more contributions but there must be some sort of qualifications before someone can publish their work. Again, disinterestedness is an idea that reduces incentive. In order to be successful, I believe that you need to have a genuine interest in whatever you study. Finally, organized skepticism is one of the norms that I believe is hardest to poke holes in. I agree with the idea of peer review, it helps at all levels, The only negative that I foresee is people who are established in science might become upset with others criticizing their work and findings that they worked so hard to produce.

Gender Barriers in Science

From its inception, science has been an inherently masculine field. God created the earth, “Mother Earth”, and since then,  we have challenged  Mother Earth and defaced it.  In the science community, men have consistently tried to “solve” earth’s theories. Through Amy Bix’s slide we see that women have been pushed away from science, we see that women were allowed on the grounds of technical schools just to fulfill the needs of the men who were studying engineering. Marketing schemes were predicated off of the belief that women did not have the same ability as men to grasp engineering topics. The field has become increasingly accepting as time has passed, now there are not as many barriers to enter for women. It is still not an even playing field, even if men don’t admit it, I believe that powerful men in science will ask more clarifying questions to women than they would to a man.

Ending sexism in science–in any field is not something that can be done with the snap of a finger. It has to end on an individual to individual basis. Every person is brought up differently and has their own feelings towards gender equality. I think the best way to end institutional sexism is to have a powerful voice leading the fight. A man in the science field, someone who is well established and respected has to usurp a role of leadership and convey to his fellow colleagues that this inequality must end.

The idea of sexism baffles me, I don’t understand how anyone can immediately discredit someone’s work based off of their gender. Bill Belichick of the Patriots is notorious for signing players who have had off the field issues and is often criticized for taking these players (Josh Gordon). But he does this because they can play, and people want to play for him because he’s the best coach in the league. The same can be said about the field of science. It doesn’t matter if a woman, a Hispanic, even a child writes a study–if their findings are significant they should be respected. Take politics and gender barriers out of the equation and respect their hard work.

Striving for Scientific Dominance

Following WWI, it was evident that countries with less resources, men, and factories had to be more efficient if they were to have a chance in later wars. WWI was fought in the trenches, leading to far too many unwarranted casualties. It is devastating to think about, but men and women quite literally ran into open battlefields knowing they were going to die. Although there are still men filled with valor who are considered “infantry”, they are not being put into the same position that those brave soldiers 100 years ago were. Following WWI, countries wanted to prepare themselves for another World War. However, this time there was more of emphasis placed on weaponry research and chemical warfare than there was on physical training.  The “Space Race” during the Cold War occurred on a more catastrophic scale following WWI. Instead of trying to pluck your nation’s flag on the moon, scientists were trying to formulate the be-all, end-all weapon for their side. Whoever succeeded first would ultimately win the next war.

Albert Einstein’s biggest regret is having a hand in creating the atom bomb. He realized what he had done after he saw the destruction it had caused in Hiroshima and said, “I do not know what weapons will be used in WW3, but WW4 will be fought using sticks and stones.” That’s a powerful statement and it shows that he truly regrets creating the atom bomb. This is an example of scientific innovation that has not benefitted society. Up until now we have really only discussed positive impacts in the scientific community. The atom bomb and this “race” to have the best weaponry breaks ethical codes. I don’t think a bomb more destructive than the atom bomb could be created in our day and age. Someone would have to jump in and stop that cultivation. If it were to enter the wrong hands, someone like Hitler, we may actually be fighting WW4 with stones. Some scientists working under Hitler had no choice, while other were evil and enjoyed what they were doing. Nowadays, it would be impossible for something like the Holocaust to happen again, there are too many things to stop it. The UN, the US, anyone would be able to stop this from happening. Ethics in science are something that should not be taken lightly as science has the power to take away humanity as we know it.

Bridging the Gap

As technological growth continues to be the catalyst of innovation in the 21st Century, it seems that less and less people are majoring and focusing on the humanities. You would be hard-pressed to find a college student who doesn’t have “Proficient in Excel” or something of that nature on their resume.  What you wouldn’t find on a typical resume is “Proficient in Ancient Greek” or “Short Story Specialist”–although either of those would both be very attractive as they are unique skills, it’s just not as practical in the real world. This shift towards technology is representative of our society as a whole. The “iPhone Era” has completely revolutionized the way people communicate with each other. It has become far too easy to meet people which lessens the value of a relationship. We need to re-establish literature into our communicative sphere and have meaningful discussions with one another outside of the classroom.

People don’t read the newspaper anymore. People may read the online articles, but physical copies are being phased out of our society. Yes, the prominent companies such as the Boston Globe and The New York Times are still standing, but even then, people would rather read the online articles. What does this say about us? We love our lives to be simplified with technology. That’s why people text rather than call, it’s easier. People are less apt to go out and buy a paperback book when they can buy it on a Kindle. The problem is that higher pieces of literature are sometimes only available in the paperback form and this is where people get left out of conversations. This is where I believe technology can come in and help bridge the gap between the two groups of people. If we can find a way to offer PDF versions of literary work to the public, advertise them, and make them look attractive to people in the tech field, we can help bring these two people together. At their core these two groups of people are innately different. Technology driven people are quantitative and like to answer questions. Literary people are the polar opposite, they are very articulate and like to be the ones asking the questions. I think that technology itself offers a solution to to people who are trying to bridge this gap.


Separating Science and Religion

There have been times in the history of science where scientists where hesitant to come forward with their findings. After Albert Einstein helped create the Atom bomb that effectively decided WWII, he was quoted saying that he wish he had never had a hand in causing that much destruction. Although this was a massive breakthrough in science, it was overshadowed by the ethical dilemma that it had caused. It opened the gates for other scientists to emulate this weapon of mass destruction and potentially allow it to enter the hands of the wrong group or country. Charles Darwin went through a similar experience with his work regarding evolution. In the excerpt from a Darwin documentary that we watched in class, Darwin had a similar moment of regret when talking with his colleagues. He realized that he was going against the Christian belief that God created man in his image. In order to continue to advance scientific theories, people have to be daring. Comfort zones must be forgotten, criticism comes with the responsibility, and if you cannot handle that, pass the responsibility to someone else who could. Darwin pushing forward with his theory was yet another example of why Christianity and Science should be separated.

It is surprising that Darwin was the first man who had the intellectual curiosity to think about the patterns of humanity. It’s easy to say that other scientists must have had similar ideas regarding natural selection before Darwin because his theory makes so much sense. Different birds have different beaks to adapt to their environment, yes, this makes perfect sense. But, it’s easy to say that now because I have been exposed to this idea and accept it as fact– maybe the stern faith in God’s word deterred other scientists from even exploring this realm. The overwhelming majority of the UK at this time were devout Catholics. In addition to this, the heads of the Catholic Church had a more prominent role than they currently. Releasing a doctrine denouncing the word of God could have been something that put Charles Darwin out of a job. This is not something that a scientist who is quite literally trying to explain the human race should have to deal with. There’s enough time devoted to research and testing, never mind the added stress from worrying about public opinion.

The Impact of Advancing Technology in Business

Over the past three summers I have interned at a small home care company based out of North Andover, MA. In my time there I have held various roles which all involve some type of technological aptitude. When I started, we used a database and scheduling system that one of our Software Developer’s had made. It worked, but was not efficient and couldn’t do things such as export reports to excel, communicate with other companies website, and often glitched out. Following the conclusion of my second summer with Associated Home Care (AHC), they were bought out by a publicly owned company, a front runner in home health care throughout the United States, Amedisys. Following this merge, AHC began to transition from small to big business. With new members of management, AHC began to monopolize home health care in MA as they have bought smaller home care companies throughout the state. Continue reading

Science and Religion

Doctor Frankenstein had a vision to do something that was deemed impossible, bring his wife back from the dead. Of course what he created was not someone who he would have Sunday brunch with, rather, he created the world’s most hideous creature, Frankenstein! This is not the first time that a piece of literature has told a tale of resurrecting someone–or something from the dead. We have read about Jesus bringing back Lazarus in the Bible, and of course Jesus himself coming back to life. Although the Bible and Frankenstein are ultimately achieving the same goal–bringing someone back, the way they go about it is entirely different. One is through the use of science while the other is simply an “act of a God” or a miracle with no scientific reasoning or proof to back it up. This deviation of methods backpacks of off our last blog topic where we talked about the separation of the Church and science. The Bible may be a sacred book with stories that teach great morals, but ultimately most of these passages were just stories–not fact. Of course Frankenstein is fictional as well, but it is important that the process of resurrecting is based off of scientific discoveries and not faith. Continue reading

Revolution or Progress?

As we have learned through Shapin’s novel, “there was no scientific revolution.” In that case, it seems my middle school education has failed me. Although Shapin denies the idea of the Scientific Revolution, he does not denounce the accomplishments of 16th and 17th century scientists, philosophers, and cultural influencers. The Renaissance was a time of challenged and motivated thinkers such as Galileo or Michelangelo. Although both of these men were invaluable to the progress of science as a whole, Shapin is under the belief that if the men of the Renaissance and the “Scientific Revolution” didn’t change the way we look at science, someone else would have done the road. In other words, the “science bubble” was waiting for someone to come and pop it and allow growth for the discipline as a whole. Continue reading

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