Progress

This semester I have to keep a blog as part of the assessment of my Masters of Science Communication.

The theme will be human progress and scientific controversy.

Why do we hold back? What makes us follow the wrong path? Is there a right path? Why are some people inextricably and permanently attached to ideas that have shown to be invalid? Why do some seek to manipulate and obfuscate in the name of ideology, politics or profits?

There are plenty of controversies in our society about the direction we feel we should take. Climate change, GMO foods, Vaccinations, Stem Cell research, or even scientific research can cause wide and divisive debate. Andrew Wakefield has been disproven time and time again, however, advocates of the anti-vaccination movement are more fervent than ever. Free market economists and conservative ideologues manufacture dissenting opinion and clever slogans to discredit scientists, scientists who are screaming that the world is in peril and that profits are meaningless.

Since the dawn of civilisation, we have sought to change ourselves, to improve on the designs of nature, to evolve. From the 1700’s (possible earlier in China) and the invention of glasses, to the first leg brace and orthopaedic adjustment in the American Civil War, to antibiotics, antidepressants, cancer treatment, in utero DNA analysis. We as a species constantly seek to change ourselves to overcome the challenges of nature and the world.

The topic of this blog for the next little while will be Human Augmentation.

There are numerous issues to discuss, the course of our self-determined destiny is near enough to infinite. However for the purposes of this work I will be specific. This work will focus on biology, rather than technological augmentation, and the near future for the most part. I will describe the ideas in terms of the controversy surrounding them when I can.

We will start next time with a brief history and description then move into the major issues surrounding biological technologies in human augmentation.

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