It is possible to disagree with Neil deGrasse Tyson or how I learned to love unethical island
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an undoubted legend of scientific popularism and I agree with almost everything he says. His field of astronomy is tremendously awe-inspiring as well as awe-inspiring ability to inspire. He’s right when he says that scientific enterprise is the best thing for economy, environment and human purpose and I admire him for his calm and staunch no comment attitude towards religious and illogical ideologies that make him an easier pill to swallow than say, Richard Dawkins (whose argument style is nevertheless necessary).
However there is one thing I disagree with. His assertion that science needs to play within a conventional present-day ethical sphere is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.Conventional ethics should only be valued in the sense of not allowing harm or distress that is not necessary. To open the floodgates to other ethical views, especially belief systems not only pushes science backwards for no reason, I dare say it can shape it into rather ugly manifestations. Imagine something like cultural relativism sinking its claws into scientific endeavour; justifiable infanticide et al. given free reign while the principles of science put on the same field. It probably doesn’t affect astronomy in the same way as say, psychology, so perhaps it’s a point Tyson is not as concerned about.
I have a joke hypothetical with a couple of friends. The hypothetical is unethical island (catchphrase: eugenics in the sun). The theory behind it is that somewhere, in the middle of the ocean away from prying eyes could be a place where scientists can conduct experiments and not be subject to outdated or painfully difficulty-to-coordinate ethical guidelines. It would be awesome! Conduct the Stanford Prison Experiment with snakes (not snakes as participants, just have snakes in the building), pretend there’s a fire and analyze reactions after an IQ test and pop round to the hotel bar for a pina colada. The thing is, while these examples are flippant there is probably a great deal of good science that ethics stops- so what should be done about it?