Written by Prof. Antonio Diéguez
Universidad de Malaga
The public image of science is usually subjected to distortions tending to blur the nuances and to generate monolithic assessments. The mass media contribute to a large extent to the creation of disproportionate expectations in the next and spectacular benefits provided by scientific research, or on the contrary, to the creation of exaggerate concerns lacking in many occasions of a rational basis. This is the reason why any professional scientist with the required talent and vocation should currently assume the task of offering to the public clear and accessible information about the research underway in any field. In the present circumstances, the scientific divulgation cannot be a personal hobby of some scientists or an exclusive task of scientifically educated writers, but it must be a central aspect of scientific practice. Science needs a good public image for its survival –at least in the form it has had so far. If the scientists do not provide determinedly and abundantly the socially demanded information, then the citizens will look for it in less reliable sources (Internet has plenty of them), with the consequent proliferation of bad information. Information is like money, the counterfeit one finally circulates better than the good one.
Synthetic Biology is a disciplinal field with a huge scientific and economical potential. Some central aspects of the aims and methods in the biological research have been already modified due to its influence. But probably it is its technological potential that could be more attractive for the public opinion.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.