By Richard C. Lewontin
Following within the style of Stephen Jay Gould and Peter Medawar, one of many world's best scientists examines how "pure technological know-how" is actually formed and guided via social and political wishes and assumptions.
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Extra info for Biology As Ideology (Cbc Massey Lectures Series)
The billions of dollars that are to be spent on it will go in no insignificant fraction into the annual dividends of productive enterprises. We see in the genome sequencing project an aspect of biological science that is not often spoken of and is perhaps the most mystified of all. What are said to be fundamental discoveries about the nature of life often mask simple commercial relations that provide a powerful impetus for the direction and subject of research. The best documented example that we have of purely commercial interest driving what is said to be a fundamental discovery about nature is in agriculture.
We are assured that if we could only find those genes that underlie alcoholism or the genes that have gone awry when we get cancer, then our problems will be over. The current manifestation of that belief in the importance of our inheritance in determining health and disease is the human genome sequencing project, a multibillion-dollar program of American and European biologists that is meant to take the place of space programs as the current great consumer of public money in the interest of conquering nature.
Once again, the impoverished notion of causation that characterizes modern biological ideology, a notion that confuses agents with causes, drives us in particular directions to find solutions for our problems. Why, then, do so many powerful, famous, successful, and extremely intelligent scientists want to sequence the human genome? The answer is, in part, that they are so completely devoted to the ideology of simple unitary causes that they believe in the efficacy of the research and do not ask themselves more complicated questions.