Seminar in Composition
18 November 2014
Final Project Proposal
Grady, Denise. Nytimes.com. The New York Times. Accessed 10-15-14.
· Lewontin criticizes modern science, particularly the Human Genome Project, arguing that such research gives society false hope
· Science is full of trial and error and has before produced positive results at the cost of frustration—does this mean we should just abandon scientific research altogether? How is science expected to find an answer to anything then?
· Modern science is relevant in everyone’s lives
· Cancer affects many
· Lewontin’s theory that biology is tied to society’s ideologies
· In my final project, I plan to make some changes to my to my revised draft. I plan to add more to my counterargument and possibly add another one. I want to put less emphasis on my use of an article from the NY Times and focus more on academic sources backing up Lewontin’s claim that while cancer research may be beneficial in the long run, it is detrimental to society and its ideologies.
3. Introduction and outline
Throughout the Lewontin’s Biology as Ideology, he criticizes modern science, arguing that specifically the Human Genome Project offers false hope for those affected by cancer. Denise Grady’s New York Times article Study Gives Hope of Altering Genes to Repel HIV gives Lewontin’s argument context, furthering his challenge of blind faith and purely positive support of medical research. While deemed by some as cynical and anti-science, Lewontin may be doing society a service by pointing out the not-so-glorious aspects of modern science and its implications.
Grady describes a process in which cells are drained from patients, engineered to repel AIDS, and then inserted back into the body. This is a revolutionary form of treatment and a possible cure for an illness that has plagued modern society for quite some time. Similarly, as Lewontin explains, the Human Genome Project aims to record the entire pattern of human DNA in an attempt to find and then fix mutations that lead to cancer. Both are groundbreaking methods offering the solution to diseases that take the lives of many. Such a solution would give peace to many victims of cancer and HIV/AIDS and their families.
Unfortunately, not only uncertainty but also ill intentions haze the path towards a glorified “cure.” A cynical Lewontin does not hesitate to point out that after the hype of such trials have died down, “The public will discover that despite the inflated claims of molecular biologists, people are still dying of cancer, of heart disease, of stroke, that institutions are still filled with schizophrenics and manic-depressives, that the war against drugs has not been won.” (Lewontin 52). Such a threat of disappointment can be seen in the word choice of Grady’s article. Although very hopeful and optimistic, ambiguous terms such as “may seem like a pipe dream,” “in theory,” “might in effect” and “seemed to help” imply a lack of confidence, a preparation for a setback. Indeed, exploratory science is unpredictable and merely experimental. Both Lewontin and Grady explore the topic of “gene editing” and its tantalizing yet simultaneously risky aspects.
· Introduce counterargument: if this attitude sustains, humanity will just give up on science altogether and then certainly will not be able to find a cure
On the other hand, throughout history, science has always been riddled with mistakes and repeats, a necessary inconvenience on the track to success. If such experimentation never has the chance to develop, how can society expect to reach a solution? While this may be true, and some science is not worth giving up on, it may be time for us to succumb to certain forces that are much bigger than ourselves. While Lewontin’s argument may be inconvenient and even socially unacceptable, he is valid in questioning the efforts of modern science specific to cancer research—a field in which we have much to gain but perhaps even more to lose.
· Expand with other examples of Lewontin’s argument from the text
· Make specific: defense of modern science
· Lewontian problems with HIV
· Doesn’t matter that motivations are wrong—it’s still a functioning system
· Use Lewontin to show it is still promising
· Greed in scientific system: scientists based on success
· A part but also a critic
· Philosophical approach or scientific?
· Critics of Lewontin
o E. O. Wilson
· What is wrong and why does it matter?
· Greed wrecks modern science is invalid because greed is at heart of system and we are still successful