Biological Sciences Columbia University
Ph.D. Program Faculty
Research Highlights
Postdoctoral Research
Research Highlights
How the Unconscious Shapes Modern Science
Robert Pollack (Professor of Biological Sciences)
International Jewish Discourse Project on Religion and Ethics at the Frontier of Genetic Medicine
AAAS, Washington DC
July 27-29, 2003

I argue, based on current models of the mind and of its irrational components, the following points. First, that social structures that put boundaries on the actions of scientists but do not acknowledge the deep and abiding faith scientists have in the purposes of their own work, are doomed to failure. Second, that scientists cannot escape personal responsibility for their actions by appealing either to their faith in their own good intentions, nor to the social expressions of that faith within science, that is, to peer-review. Third, that Judaism and other religions can have their most profound effect on the course of science, by offering support and understanding to those scientists who acknowledge the difficulty of living entirely within the faith of science.

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