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Saturday, 2 October 2010

Wicked Science

The news that American researchers, in the 1940s, infected the mentally ill and confined in Guatemala with syphilis (that was later treated though not necessarily cured) demanded a high-level apology, such as Clinton and Obama have since proffered.  So far so good - except very troubling thoughts linger: how, after the atrocities of Nazi and Japanese WW2 medical research, could Americans involve themselves in such cold-blooded work?  More to the point, does such untrammeled science still operate?  Whenever scientists like Dawkins wax lyrical about the pure rational spirit of the scientist, it is right to recall such crimes against humanity; for science, unmoored from morality, even (say it!) faith, can grow monstrous very easily; for the human mind's forensic curiosity, still in its moral infancy, will pull wings from a fly to see it struggle.  And call that knowledge.
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