George P. Mitchell, fracking, and scientific innovation. – Slate Magazine

CSID Fellow Adam Briggle argues that it’s time to frack the innovation system.

We need to frack the innovation system—create fissures to let in more people and more perspectives. Researchers must obtain the informed consent of individuals participating in trials of new pharmaceuticals. The same should hold for things like shale gas development that amount to large-scale social experiments. Those of us living atop shale plays have been enrolled as unwilling human subjects of research. There are pitfalls to including the public in science and technology policies: Those who shout the loudest, even if they are a small minority, may end up setting the course. But these problems are no more difficult than those associated with getting gas out of shale. We just have not invested comparable time or intellectual energy into processes of design-by-democracy.

George P. Mitchell, fracking, and scientific innovation. – Slate Magazine.


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One Response to George P. Mitchell, fracking, and scientific innovation. – Slate Magazine

  1. Kelli Barr says:

    I’m not very familiar with the political demographics of Slate’s readership, but I’m a little surprised by the hostility of the comments. The general sentiment seems to be that promoting thinking about ethics and societal benefits in scientific research will degrade the quality of the research. But the argument doesn’t hold water at all. Does it make you a worse consumer to think about where the products you buy come from and how/by whom they are made, and then base your consumption choices off of that knowledge? Quite the contrary; introducing an ethical consciousness into the process of choosing goods and services tends to make us better consumers.

    Really all this kind of thinking requires is that scientists behave professionally more like humans – complex beings living in a complex world – and less like knowledge-producing robots: input (existing scientific knowledge) —> beep boop boop (churning through the scientific method – yes, that’s the sound it makes) —> output (newly codified scientific knowledge).

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