Created By: azraelfinalstar on August 21, 2011 Last Edited By: Ekuran on February 16, 2012

Science Is Imperfect

Science isn\'t good or bad, its just a tool.

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Some works try to tell us that Science Is Evil. Some try to sing its praises. But this is for the middle ground. Science can be good or bad, but on its own, its neither. Probably more truth in television that either other view point.

Community Feedback Replies: 33
  • August 21, 2011
    KingZeal
    Seems kinda People Sit On Chairs to me. This is basically saying, "science is stuff".
  • August 21, 2011
    Ekuran
    "Science is portrayed as neither good nor bad, merely a tool to be used by people for either good or bad purposes."

    Seems like a trope to me. The writer is basically telling us that science isn't to blame if it causes a "good" or "bad" effect, as only people can take responsibility for their actions.
  • August 21, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    So, is this supposed to be an Aesop?
  • August 21, 2011
    TwinBird
    Less Wrong: When science can't help., Yudkowsky justifying his... let's call it "ratiocination" over the study of testable hypotheses.
  • August 21, 2011
    TBeholder
    I see two different things here. One, a reference to the philosophy of instrumentalism. Two, let's call it "sliding scale of scientist's responsibility" - such as in "Wernher Von Braun" by Tom Lehrer.
  • August 21, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    ^ Probably because the initial description is so intentionally unobtrusive that we have to interpret the intention ourselves.

    The next question is, is either a trope?
  • August 21, 2011
    azraelfinalstar
    This was supposed to refer to works that show that both good and bad can come out of science. Especially in a world where science created horror, that some technology still helps them out.
  • August 21, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    ^ Would Watchmen be an example? Ozymandias attempts to frame Dr. Manhattan for the death of millions to end the cold war by uniting the nations against him. While his intentions were good, the science behind the bomb could not be held responsible for the actions of Veidt, especially considering the duality already present in his intent
  • August 21, 2011
    azraelfinalstar
    i guess that would work
  • August 21, 2011
    randomsurfer
    ^^For the record the first part of that spoiler applies only to the film. In the comic book he fakes an alien invasion to unite the world, but it otherwise plays the same.
  • August 21, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    If memory serves, this theme was also the backdrop for the Anime Steamboy. I think. maybe.

    So, examples such as Star Wars where both sides have equal access to technology, would that apply, or would it not, since very little discussion goes into it?
  • August 21, 2011
    KingZeal
    Alright, well, if we're deciding this is tropeable, I suppose I can contribute an example or two.

    • Marvel Science Heroes tend to invoke this trope frequently.
      • The Aesop of the Iron Man franchise is basically this. Tony Stark is a former military-industrial Arms Dealer and manufacturer who was blissfully ignorant of just how many lives his weapons were ruining on a daily basis. The combination of finding this out, combined with the Irony of being fatally wounded by one of his own designs prompted him to change and use his genius more responsibly. Being Tony Stark, he doesn't always succeed, but he's trying.
      • The Incredible Hulk is mostly this, especially in the post-Cold War era. While he undoubtedly started out as a Science Is Bad Aesop against nuclear testing and the dangers of unchecked hubris, in recent years the Hulk has been seen as more of a neutral force than anything. Bruce Banner himself has tried to use his genius, his abilities, and even his mutated physiology to good use (donating his gamma-irradiated blood to save his cousin's life transformed her into She Hulk, one of the most unabashedly heroic characters in comics) and The Hulk himself is an imperfect force for good.
  • August 21, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    Considering we have about five or six pages on X and/or Y and/or X morality, Science Is Grey Morality as a title?
  • August 22, 2011
    azraelfinalstar
    Possibly. I'll update the entry tomorrow (or rather today, but its 4 in the morning here)
  • August 22, 2011
    Xzenu
    I'd reccommend "Science Is Neutral" for title.
  • August 22, 2011
    azraelfinalstar
    ^ i think that title would be best
  • August 22, 2011
    somerandomdude
    Possible page quote:

    "Science does not have a moral dimension. It is like a knife. If you give it to a surgeon or a murderer, each will use it differently."
    -- Wernher von Braun
  • August 22, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    ^ Perfect.

    Maybe Braun Morality as a redirect?
  • August 23, 2011
    Xzenu
    Sounds good! :-D
  • August 31, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    With one rolled update, this would be hat-worthy.
  • August 31, 2011
    Abodos
    In Avatar, technology is used for good purposes (creating the Avatars, discovering the inner workings of Eywa) and bad purposes (bulldozing the forests, massacring the Na'vi).
  • August 31, 2011
    Degraine
    Trying to think of a better title, would something like Science Doesn't Kill People (playing on Guns Don't Kill People) or Science Is Amoral work better?
  • September 1, 2011
    cityofmist
    Science Is Amoral works with the literal meaning of 'amoral', but in normal use the word carries connotations of being a selfish jerk, so it might not really work with the point of the trope being neutrality.
  • September 1, 2011
    Euodiachloris
    Is this For Science wearing its excuse I see before me...?
  • September 1, 2011
    Abodos
    How about Science Is Neutral?
  • September 1, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    Braun Morality and Science Is Neutral have my vote. Or something-something In The Hands That Use It.
  • September 2, 2011
    MorganWick
    Don't we already have a trope like this that focuses on scientists or their inventions as MacGuffins that can be used by either the good or bad guys?
  • September 2, 2011
    Bisected8
    @Euodiachloris: No, For Science is when someone uses the idea of advancing science as an excuse or sincere motivation. It could go with this trope or Science Is Bad quite easily.

    • In CSI, Grissom gives a statement to this effect to a Reality Show crew who have been following the team for an episode;
      Cameraman: Do you think forensic shows are just teaching the criminals how to get away with crimes?
      Grissom: Everyone learns from science. It all depends on how you use the knowledge.
  • September 3, 2011
    Euodiachloris
    Urm - my point was that For Science can wear this as a disguise. Sarcasm and type don't like each other... Also this trope is what many Mad Scientist fondly like to think they follow. When the science itself is neutral, but you crossed the Moral Event Horizon using its product/ trying to get to start the experiment - that's when it's Bad.
  • September 3, 2011
    BooleanEarth
    If the idea here is that science is a tool and becomes what we make of it then Dollhouse needs to be on here as an example. While the series follows the course of the world's devastation by imprinting technology, one of its main themes was that technology will always be used and abused in whatever way possible and that it is humanity's responsibility to use it properly. Technology causes the "thoughtpocalypse," but also ultimately undoes its own destruction and proves the salvation of several major characters.
  • September 15, 2011
    TBeholder
    • White Plague by Frank Herbert. Starts with a biologist going nuts from of grief and making a new virus for revenge, toward the end another scientist discovers his musing about how the new world is going to look aren't abstract, but related to his own personal life.
  • September 15, 2011
    Topazan
    You could probably clip a great deal of the description from Reluctant Mad Scientist. I'm not sure how the tropes are related though.
  • February 16, 2012
    Ekuran
    Bumping.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=zymsge2wg96qodm8nc7rm0ji