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2011 Section 3 Question 3

Scientific objectivity expresses the idea that the methods and results of science should not be influenced by perspectives, bias or personal beliefs. Science should be based only on research, logic and evidence.

“A scientific man”, in this statement, refers to a person who uses science on a daily basis, such as doctors, engineers, pharmacists and scientists. According to Darwin, such an individual cannot allow emotions or wishes to affect their scientific work.

A “heart of stone”, according to Darwin, refers to objectivity. The case of Andrew Wakefield proves the importance of objectivity in science. Wakefield was bribed by a law firm to prove that MMR vaccines caused autism in children. He manipulated his results and put his subjects through unethical procedures to prove the link between MMR vaccines and autism. Many people believed this to be true and did not vaccinate their children. This, unfortunately, caused deaths of many children from measles, mumps and rubella. Scientists must ensure that their experiments are strictly controlled. Proclamations should be made only after peer review and strong evidence.

On the other hand, scientists make hypotheses based on personal beliefs and findings. Without any personal interest, Sir Isaac Newton would not have been intrigued by gravity and motion. Similarly, Thomas Edison’s wish to invent the light bulb caused him to fail 1000 times before he could succeed. Edward Jenner discovered the smallpox vaccine because he believed that exposure to cowpox rendered the body immune from smallpox. It was their passion and determination which led to scientific discoveries that revolutionised the world.

A person’s imagination is the basis of progress. It was imagination that allowed the Wright brother to invent the aeroplane and Ernst Ruska to construct the electron microscope. Therefore, without any wishes and affections, our desire to understand the world and universe would diminish.

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