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Social Influences on Science

Scientists do not conduct their research in isolation*, they work with people, for other people and within their culture. Thus they are influenced by their team, their boss, their colleagues from different institutions, the media they read or watch and their government.

The interests and concerns of the society within which a scientist works influences both the direction of his or her scientific research and how they go about collecting the data itself. Are you easily influenced? See Am I a good scientist?

* but there was a French caver Michel Siffre, who stayed underground in cave for more than 8 weeks as part of an psychological experiment to find out what effect this would have on his natural body rhythm! (Editor).

At one time and place in global history it was quite acceptable to experiment barbarically on other humans and in another time and place scientists were not allowed to even dissect a corpse to further their understanding of how the body worked.

Listen to  James Watson being interviewed in 2003 about his thoughts on the impact of his and Francis Crick’s discovery of the structure of DNA.

 Social Regulation

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Open quoteIt's always tempting when you are an expert and you are asked for advice to come up with an answer. Sometimes actually what you should come up with is 'We simply don't know'. That, of course, is unpopular.Close quote

Prof. Sir John Krebs, principal of Jesus College Oxford