The intent and uses of science are a continuing preoccupation, especially in public debates on issues such as new pharmaceuticals, cloning, stem cells, genetically modified foods, and assisted reproduction. Times of Triumph, Times of Doubt,
written by the eminent geneticist and historian Elof Carlson, explores the moral foundations of science and their role in these hotbutton issues. Carlson chooses a variety of case histories and describes their scientific background and the part played by scientists in the application of their work, including their motivations and reactions to bad outcomes, both real and alleged. He examines why ethical lapses have occurred in these areas, why bad things happen when, for the most part, those who worked on the science had only good intentions in mind, and how such lapses can be prevented from occurring in the future. This exploration of ethics and science is important reading for those interested in issues of science and society, including journalists, theologians, legislators, lawyers, and scientists themselves.
In his thoughtprovoking book Times of Triumph, Times of Doubt, [Carlson] asks why many of his young students who have turned away from careers in science feel that science has let them down through its bad outcomes. In making his analysis he includes in the scientific community not only researchers but also those responsible for the commercialization and regulation of science, such as business executives, ethicists, theologians, legislators, lawyers and journalists.
Ian Wilmut, Nature
This is a wellwritten book, with the beginnings of a good argument in favor of patrolling science for abuse. At a time in history when genetic determinism is so seductive and widely accepted, even when we don't yet understand the relative genetic and environmental contributions to complex traits, when scientists and nonscientists alike seem to have forgotten the horrific application of eugenics in the last centurywithin living memorythis book is a welcome reminder that good science can have bad consequences.
Anne V. Buchanan, BioEssays
The book gives a very good overview of the major issues facing scientists now and in the past. The explorations of the moral foundations of the book are so careful and simply written that it will compel the reader to reflect on her own values and beliefs. Times of Triumph, Times of Doubt will be beneficial not only for those working in medical research and ethics, but also for the general public who will find it very interesting and informative.
Metapsychology Online Reviews
This book deserves to form part of all courses involving science and ethics, whether for laboratory scientists and clinicians, or for social scientists. Based on a lecture course for nonscience students it is extremely clearly written, thoughtful and full of commonsense, while it adds the historical dimension that is often missing. For those in genetics it is particularly important; it will open readers eyes to some disturbing aspects of our sciences past – and may even help in avoiding more bad outcomes in the future.
Scientific insight and discovery have radically improved our lives, and science will continue to improve the human prospect: that is the core of Carlson’s book. Dismayed by the public distrust of science and scientists in the early 21st century, the author argues that the vast majority of scientists have had motives that were at worst benign and often noble; they wanted to improve human life or were driven by intellectual curiosity. Science has been put to bad uses, he quickly concedes, but the transformation for the better it has made in the lives of most human beings is easily worth the price...
Carlson could not be boring if he tried, and he is at least as hard on the scientists who go wrong as he is on politicians or theologians. The story he tells should be widely read and discussed. This volume is provocative from the first to the last page. If I were grading this book, I would give it an unconventional, but richly deserved, A+.
The Quarterly Review of Biology