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“We have to touch people.”

This video struck me teary and absolutely speechless.

Video: Jacob Bronowski talks about the human side of science.

It always boggles my mind whenever anyone says that science will “dehumanize” in the same way it does when they say it will “take the mystery” out of life.  We get to be all the more human because of science.  Just as science adds wonder and mystery to our world, so too does it allow us to further pursue other quitessentially human pursuits.

The human mind is a funny, questing thing.  It is never satisfied with what it knows but, when healthy, it constantly seeks to learn more about the context in which it finds itself.  I have always felt that curiosity is one of the most fundamentally human emotions and, as such, science is one of the most fundamentally human acts.  To say that scientific pursuits might make us less human, to me, sounds equally as strange as saying that excessive dam building will de-beaver a beaver.

Admittedly, the results of science and of dam-building are very different.  (Though it took a great deal of the former for humans to be able to engage in the latter.)  Dam building did not produce the gas that Dr. Bronowski mentioned in the video.  Then again, nor did it create penicillin.  And yet both have aided in pursuits that human beings have been engaged in since pre-history.

Both allowed human beings to do exactly what they were already doing, only better.  For eons human beings had fought each other and had, in many cases, engaged in complete genocide.  The harnessing of poison gases made this genocide easier and more efficient.  For similar stretches of time, people have cared for the sick.  The creation of anti-bacterial drugs and the wide-spread use thereof made such medical care easier and more effective.

Science and technology allow is to be more human.  They help us to do those things to which we are inclined much more easily, efficiently, and effectively and they open up new avenues of thought and action for us to pursue.  And we traipse down those proverbial avenues with glee and abandon, because it is human for us to do so.  Such explorations are one of the most human of all pursuits.

To say that science dehumanizes us is, to my mind, not only wrong.  It is entirely antithetical to truth of human nature.

(Hat tip to PZ Myers over at Pharyngula for posting that video.)

Posted in Science/Tech.


One Response

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  1. Chris Sullins says

    That is an amazing clip. I may very well have to re-post it.