Simon Griffee

The Poison Arrows Out of Harm’s Way

29 April 2018 · 1 minute read

Carl Sagan in the The Demon-Haunted World - Science as a Candle in the Dark, page 291:

Among the !Kung San hunter-gatherers of the Kalahari Desert, when two men, perhaps testosterone-inflamed, would begin to argue, the women would reach for their poison arrows and put the weapons out of harm’s way. Today our poison arrows can destroy the global civilization and just possibly annihilate our species. The price of moral ambiguity is now too high. For this reason — and not because of its approach to knowledge — the ethical responsibility of scientists must also be high, extraordinarily high, unprecedentedly high. I wish graduate science programs explicitly and systematically raised these questions with fledgling scientists and engineers. And sometimes I wonder whether in our society, too, the women — and the children — will eventually put the poison arrows out of harm’s way.