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Q3) Discuss the view that too much faith is placed in scientific progress.

In the computerized world that we live in today, much trust and optimism have been
placed in scientific progress for the benefits that it promises. Scientific progress has
been embraced as a panacea to many of our problems, as well as a harbinger of
positive change to our society. However, some are of the view that the high level of faith
we have placed in scientific progress is unjustified. Indeed, with dangers such as the
looming possibility of breakdowns in the technological systems we have so espoused;
and the lack of guarantee that our advancements in science can ever resolve our
environmental problems, it is reasonable to question if we are placing too much faith in
scientific progress.
Firstly, too much faith is placed in scientific progress for its promises of solving our
current problems. For instance, our dire environmental problems comprise aspects such
as climate change, loss in biodiversity and destruction of natural habitats, and they
largely stem from our pollutive methods of energy sourcing. Coal mining, our primary
source of energy, accounts for the greatest pollution to our air systems, and the
ramifications of its negative impacts can be found in the destruction of wildlife and
natural habitats that are contaminated by it. As a result, many countries have embraced
scientific progress in the harnessing of cleaner energy sources to tackle environmental
pollution. However, scientific progress in these new technology has yet to prove itself in
addressing climate change effectively. According to Trevor Davies, head of the carbon
reduction programme at the University of East Anglia, some of the projects using new
technology are highly speculative, with potential applications many decades away. For
example, new energy derived from hydrogen fuel must be produced from cheap and
renewable sources if it is to help cut greenhouse gas emissions and that condition sets
it several decades away from any practical application. Furthermore, the vulnerability of
nuclear plants, as seen from the Fukushima nuclear leakages, pose a risk in relying too
much on new nuclear energy. Instead of alleviating our environmental problems,
scientific developments of nuclear energy could contaminate the environment even
more. Yet, many countries in the world still rely on nuclear energy and new energy is still
an emphasis in climate change conventions, such as the Copenhagen Summit. Hence,
the faith placed in scientific progress to help alleviate our environmental problems
seems overrated.
Secondly, too much faith is placed in scientific progress because the dangers and
negative repercussions of newly developed technologies outweigh its benefits. Scientific
progress, manifested in modern technology, has been experimented to improve natural
functions, as seen in the applications of bio-technology and genetic engineering. For
example, genetically-modified (GM) food contain genetic material that does not occur
naturally; it exploits the competent genes of an organism and infuses them into crops,
with the intention of increasing yield and resistance of the crop to plant diseases. GM

foods have been touted as helping reduce our agricultural impact on the planet, yet feed
the growing human population. Much faith has been placed in GM food for the benefits
it promises. However, these benefits are simply an extra advantage, but not a necessity
for our agricultural production, which has been largely sustainable in the past, even
without the implementation of GM crops. Furthermore, the advantage of GM food itself
is questionable. Scientists have cautioned that the GM organisms will integrate
themselves with organic organisms, producing new forms, and hence permanently
disrupting the ecology of our planet. Furthermore, the effects of genetic engineering
have been not verified in the long run and its future implications are too uncertain for us
to apply them into our food sources. Hence, the danger and negative repercussions of
our scientific progress in GM food greatly outweigh the benefits it promises. In the field
of bio-technology, scientific progress has enabled us to develop precision surgery that
aims to cure our problems. For instance, the Lasik surgery is used to cure eye
conditions such as myopia, and an increasing number of people have undergone the
surgery. However, the chances of an error in surgery, while very low, still exist and can
even lead to a loss in vision. Hence, as seen from the instances of GM food and Lasik
surgery, our current scientific progress in genetic engineering and biotechnology is
unable to guarantee safety in its applications, and it might even bring about lasting
negative impacts. Despite these concerns, much faith is still placed in our scientific
progress, as seen from the large-scale productions of GM food and prevalent use of
Lasik surgery. Hence, too much faith might be placed in scientific progress.
Thirdly, too much faith is placed in scientific progress as it has put us at risk of having
our private information breached. Scientific progress has enabled us to develop
automated operation systems capable of processing vast volumes of information across
the world with efficiency and convenience. However, loopholes exist in these systems
and can be exploited by those with malicious intent. For instance, cyber thefts of credit
cards and hackings into bank systems are possible under our current cyber defenses. In
a JP Morgan Chase data breach that occurred in 2014, 76 million households and 8
million small businesses were exposed due to a cyber-attack. Besides, the PRISM
surveillance programme conducted by the US National Security Agency (NSA) captures
the private data of local and foreign people, without their consent. This breach in privacy
is widespread, as it exploits the vast amounts of private information available through
social media, as well as in private telephone calls and emails. In a recent furor, the NSA
has even been suspected of spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel by hacking
into her telephone calls. Hence, as evident in the JP Morgan Chase breach and the
PRISM surveillance programme, our current scientific progress in information
technology is unable to protect us from cyber-attacks that can affect millions of people
worldwide. Yet, our crucial financial and telecommunication systems are still almost
entirely based on information technology for the convenience that it brings. Hence, too

much faith is placed in scientific progress as it has put us at risk of having our private
information breached.
However, the benefits of scientific progress in improving our standard of living cannot be
dismissed. Over the past 50 years of medical science, human life expectancy at birth
has increased exponentially. Also, diseases are able to control with scientific progress.
In the past, influenzas such as the Spanish Flu resulted in the deaths of millions of
people worldwide. However, in recent times, outbreaks of Flus such as H1N1 have been
much less deadly, due to the availability of efficient diagnosis and treatment with our
scientific progress in medicine. In addition, scientific progress in water treatment has
greatly improved the sanitation in less developed countries. Not only has this improved
the standard of living in the slums, it has also contained the spread of water-borne
diseases such as cholera, essential to the protecting the health of a large community of
people. Hence, in this regard, the faith placed in scientific progress is justifiable.

Also, the help of scientific progress in connecting us together over vast geographical
boundaries is largely commendable. The advancement in transport systems due to
scientific progress has enabled us to transcend geographical distances with relative
ease and efficiency. Furthermore, the establishment of the Internet and social media
has enabled us to connect with one another at different parts of the world
simultaneously, thereby reducing the decline in human interaction due to geographical
barriers. Not only does this facilitate the globalized trades that economies are
dependent on, but on a personal level, it has provided comfort and joy to numerous
families that could reunite over geographical distances. Hence, these benefits lend a
pillar of optimism to our current scientific progress, as one that enhances our daily lives.
In this regard, the faith placed in scientific progress is reasonable.
In conclusion, much faith has been placed in scientific progress due to the benefits that
it promises. While it cannot be denied that in many aspects, scientific progress has
already brought about great benefits to our lives, the current state of our scientific
progress poses much risk and negative repercussions for the future. Hence, too much
faith is placed in scientific progress.