Imagine a world in which we can prevent down syndrome or alzheimer’s disease, or understand that a fetus may be at high risk for heart issues or autism. Is this utopian-like world one that you would want to live in? After all, parents want to give their child the best of everything – the best clothes, the best home, the best education. Is it crazy to think that children should be gifted with the “best” genetic code as well? There is a lot of debate about whether genetic modification to an unborn child is morally wrong. In recent years, the process of mixing sperm and an egg in a test tube or dish, and then transferring this egg to a uterus has been gaining a lot of momentum in society. This process is known in vitro fertilization, or IVF, and is quite popular with adults who are looking to have kids but do not have the means. Children that are genetically modified before birth are known colloquially as “designer babies.” While genetic modification on unborn child could be useful in preventing disease and defects, it is important to note that in develloping this technology, we are awarding parents the power of choice. One concern regarding designer babies that is held by many people is that the genetic modification of these children will begin as a practical way to prevent disease, but will end up a consumer product marketed to wealthy. If this were the case, it is conceivable that we could live in a society in which prospective parents are going to extreme financial lengths to ensure that their child has a certain color hair, or particularly bright eyes.
Critical Question: How do we know what we are eating? Sure, we may see a tiny nutrition box with small print on the side of a wrapper, but rarely can a person truly know all the ingredients of most meals or snacks. How does the food we eat, genetically modified to our liking and mass produced for convenience, affect our health?
Thesis: In order to decrease the staggering amount of obesity-related chronic diseases, the way that technology shapes the food industry should be guided by public health, as opposed to the short term economic benefits of companies involved.
Rough Outline/ Description : First, I would like to start off by discussing the history of how technology has changed the way we consume food, starting with stone tools allowing us to kill big animals and obtain more proteins. What were the health benefits of this, and how did it change when humans settled down during the neolithic revolution? How did these grain-based diets affect our health, and how did that change again when flour and sugar were able to be mass produced after the industrial revolution? Going on from there, I think it would segment nicely into talking about the problems that are evident in today’s world, and how they came to have such a strong hold in society. Mainly touching on one of the leading causes of death in America, obesity, highly influenced by the mass distribution and popularity of fine grains, sugary drinks, and some processed foods. Common sense points to an easy way to lose weight, given that the amount of calories one takes in has a direct effect on weight gain. The easy solution, seems like it would be to eat less and eat healthier foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. But what happens to low income families who can’t afford an organic diet, and rely on the Wendy’s 4 for 4 deal to help them get the most bang for their buck? There are portions of society that have been dramatically misled about what they should be putting to your body, thanks to heavy marketing from fast food chains.
The food industry has become entirely dependent on technology, and there are many factors that contribute. Genetically modified foods and the ethics behind it will have a large portion in this research paper, and similarly with massive factory farming. However, this paper will not purely focus on the negative aspects that technology has inadvertently put in our bodies. With a growing population of nearly 8 billion, there are a seemingly impossible amount of mouths to feed. Without things like refrigerated trucks, proper environmentally friendly care of crops, and other technological advances which have helped us to feed our ever growing population, the food industry would fall apart.
It is for this reason that this topic is extremely relevant to Science, Technology, and Society. It is one of the classic examples of technology mixing with necessities of the human race, where it is vital for us to survive but has negative effects as well. Even though I only have a couple sources for this rough outline, there are many other sites that I viewed which I did not feel comfortable with siting, so their information was not included. I am looking for reliable research coming from sources such as the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and American Diabetes Association. I want to find plenty of evidence that shows that obesity is one of the leading causes of death in America, as well as other journals or articles describing the unknown ingredients such as additive preservatives, coloring, and artificial sweetening or flavors.
British scientist and novelist C.P. Snow writes about his view on how most of society could be placed into two cultures, the literary intellectuals and the scientists. In The Two Cultures, Snow goes into detail about the common attributes of the two polar groups, and how their differences lead to poor cooperation between them. In the mid 20th century when this book was written, Snow was surrounding himself with intellectuals of the two fields, and there are many valid reasons for why he singled out these two specific cultures. However, I believe that there are a plethora of cultures in the world, and the differences inside of these cultures can sometimes be more dramatic than the differences between them.
For centuries women were not entitled to the same rights and privileges as men. Although there has been real effort to achieve equality in the past two hundred years, there are still gender disparities in many industries. In these modern times, you could go to the movies, turn on the television, listen to music, or surf the web. Despite the type of media you use, you’d have a good chance of encountering stereotypes that encourage gender discrimination. Women tend to be sexualized and skinny, and have been shown as nurturing, helpless, and domestic. This display of women can be traced all the way back to the days of Ancient Greece. Continue reading
200 years after Mary Shelley released Frankenstein, it is still commonly discussed, and has many applications to modern times. Shelley wrote her book in 1817, when scientific advances were happening rapidly. For example, the discovery of electricity was groundbreaking, and had the ability to shake the way that humans saw and interacted with the natural world. Although our new and exciting inventions have gotten far more complex than electricity, the questions surrounding them remain the same. Our society currently has issues in developing fields such as artificial intelligence, genetic modification, and new areas of medical research. Emerging technologies such as these go hand in hand with controversies about the roles, uses, and limitations of science. As we see in Frankenstein, the drive to create can lead to disastrous consequences when science runs amuck. It’s not probable that a cutting-edge robot, capable of near human intelligence will take on a personal vendetta and hunt down you and your family. But what if it does?
In Steven Shapin’s bibliography, The Scientific Revolution, he discusses the achievements of Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo in establishing the heliocentric universe. As we all learned in middle school, this went on to start one of the biggest controversies between science and religion since Darwin’s Evolution of Species. However, this is actually a common myth. The science behind Copernicus’ work helped solve problems that the geocentric model could not, but it still was just as problematic as the model before it. It was only centuries later that this “scientific revolution” was seen as philosophers trying to correct the church’s teachings.
Could you imagine walking into a dark room and lighting an oil lamp in order to see? Or that each chair you sat in came from an artisan woodworker with natural materials, as opposed to the average plastic swivel chair seen in every office in America? Lewis Mumford, an early 1900’s philosopher broke down the evolution of technology throughout human history into 4 time periods. Until around 10,000 B.C, humans were making tools out of stone and bone as a means for survival. As civilization progressed through the agricultural revolution, we learned to harness nature’s energy to help meet specific needs. Steps like domesticating animals, getting energy from water mills, and capturing wind to push us across the globe were not only significant because of the advancement they spurred; they helped people of this time lived in a harmonious balance between labor, science, and nature.