American Best Science Writing Essay

            Science certainly has the potential to combat negative aspects of society such as lying, depression and global warming. However, the way science presents hypotheses, ideas, theories and discoveries often results in an increase in the negative aspects of society. Scientific discoveries have the power to scare human beings into thinking that the world is a hopeless place. Global warming is a good example; the more scientists discover about the climate change crisis facing the planet, the more negatively humans view the problem. So, while science can certainly come up with ways to improve the global warming crisis, it is more likely that these discoveries will cause more and more people to view the outcome in a negative light. Further, it often takes decades for a solution to be discovered if one is ever discovered at all. For example, Einstein proposed that there may exist a theory of everything back in the 1920s. “Yet Einstein failed” and despite the work of many scientists, the theory of everything still has not been proven (Kolata, 2007, 2). While scientists continue to scurry around trying to solve the problems facing the world, human beings are becoming more and more frightened about the world in which they live. “And in the interim, armies of physicists, equipped with similarly well-intentioned yet ultimately faulty or unprovable ideas, have followed him to the same well-trod dead end” (Kolata, 2007, 2).  

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            Science has been extraordinarily useful in solving some of the negative aspects of society. Penicillin is an excellent example. Without this discovery, many lives would have been lost due to infection. However, science has been largely unsuccessful at solving the negative aspects of society. Lying, depression and global warming are still important issues in society and scientists are no closer to discovering how to eliminate these problems than they were when the problems first became known. There has been a great deal of research regarding the treatment and cure for depression but so far depression rates continue to rise at staggering rates. Similarly, lying has not been eliminated from society. Researchers are working on pinpointing the theory of deception in order “to show what lying looks like” (Kolata, 2007, 46). The goal is to figure out what lying looks like “on a liar’s face, in a liar’s demeanor and, most important, in a liar’s brain” (Kolata, 2007, 46). However, one must question whether or not such a devise would actually remove this negative aspect of society or not. It seems more likely that such a device would cause all of humanity to become distrustful of one another as they spent so much time watching for any indication that they were being lied to. Therefore, this may eradicate lying from society, but it would cause a great deal of other negative issues that would set society back further than it was before.

            Perhaps one day society will reach a point when science has the potential to solve all the problems facing the world. However, “diagnosis is just the beginning” (Kolata, 2007, 107). The diagnosis stage is as far as the scientific realm has been able to reach thus far in trying to eliminate all of the negative aspects of society. Just as doctors must learn more about Alzheimer’s, scientists must also “figure out how and why the damage occurred – and learn to prevent it” (Kolata, 2007, 107). The negative aspects of society cannot be solved simply by becoming aware that they exist and science has not been able to move past this point in order to learn to prevent problems. Therefore, the current state of science makes it impossible to believe that it has the capacity to eradicate everything negative from society. The potential to solve these problems exists but scientists must make the transition from finding the problem to learning how to solve the problem. Coupled with the fact that the negative aspects of society such as lying, depression and global warming effect every human being in a different way, this is a very daunting task and “presents an almost impossibly complicated puzzle” (Kolata, 2007, 123). Ultimately, science is able to discover the problems but are not always able to solve them.

Kolata, Gina. (2007). The Best American Science Writing. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

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