Mar 17, 2008
Given recent pronouncements from a certain organisation based in Rome, I thought it was time to list the Seven Deadly Sins for Scientists. Science is often referred to as being without morals and behaving unethically. Well, science itself cannot be either immoral nor unethical, it is only humans who can have those characteristics in how they choose to use science.
But first a quick mention for some fellow sinners. Over on Depth First, the morals of scientific publishing come under the spotlight, while Eye on DNA gives us the Seven Deadly Sins of Genetics. Carol Goble, about whose myGrid work I have written several times, shares her Seven Deadly Sins of Bioinformatics. A rather bizarre Seven Deadly Sins of Obesity appeared in Aussie publication ScienceAlert on March 7 – Consumption obsession, Time pressure, Parenting pressures, Technology, Car reliance, Marketing of unhealthy food, and Confusing advice – only a couple of which look like personal behaviours while the others are simply properties of one’s environment.
The traditional sins are: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Pride. (In the original Latin: Superbia, Avaritia, Luxuria, Invidia, Gula, Ira, Acedia, as listed by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century AD. Of course, they’re pretty much standard behavioural characteristics most of us do not want to see in others, but are loathe to recognise in ourselves. Incidentally, it is no coincidence that the words, dissolution, solvation and salvation are connected.
A visual update of this centuries-old moral code was posted on Sciencebase in February 2007 (Seven Deadly Sins) but has been receiving renewed interest because of the Pope’s own update to the capital vices. His new list is as follows: 1. genetic engineering, 2. polluting, 3. drug dealing, 4. abortion, 5. causing social injustice, 6. pedophilia, 7. obscene wealth. They’re not quite as catchy as the original list of cardinal vices, are they? I wonder how quickly the phrase genetic engineering will become redundant as science advances over the next few centuries.
Anyway, after all that waffle, here is a first draft of the six deadly sins of science, I’m leaving a slot empty for Sciencebase readers to fill…what’s the seventh sin of science?