Beyond Secularization:

Religion, Science and Technology in Public Life

 

Provocations: Re-thinking Ethics

Re-thinking Ethics:

 

Controversial New Guidelines Would Allow Experiments on More Mature Human Embryos

Interviewed for NPR 
MAY 2021 

The International Society for Stem Cell Research released new guidelines permitting the study of embryos beyond the previous 14-day rule, raising questions about the ideals of progress and human life that govern guidelines for ethical scientific research. 

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Was 'science' on the ballot? 

In Science
FEB 2021

Before despairing the loss of trust in science, we should be sure we are worrying about the right problem. Was "science" really on the ballot? Is it useful to imagine U.S. citizens as divided into pro-science and anti-science camps?

Does the label anti-science serve the purposes of deliberative democracy? The answer is plainly no. A correct diagnosis is essential to repairing the sorry state of science-society relations in the United States. 

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What Volunteering at a COVID Vaccination Site Taught Me Of Vaccine Nationalism 

Article for The Wire
JAN 2021 

A critical public discourse has emerged around the injustice of richer countries hoarding vaccines, leaving the rest with shortages. An important concern is how this vaccine nationalism builds on and intensifies long-term inequalities in the political economy of global health and how it interacts with a lack of public trust that contributes to vaccine hesitancy, raising significantethical questions for public health.

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Comparative Covid Response: Crisis, Knowledge, Politics

 

Report prepared for Futures Forum on Preparedness 
JAN 2021 

A central puzzle of COVID-19 is why some nations have so successfully contained the virus while others have failed. THis comparative study of 23 nations looks at multilateral cooperation, leadership, public trust, testing and economic impact to explore pragmatic and ethical considerations for future public health policy.

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The CRISPR Challenge

 

Interviewed for Radio Open Source 
MAR 2021 

Biologists had learned before CRISPR how to read the coded map of genes that make you a one-of-a-kind human being. What CRISPR shows them is how to write the code, as well, and rewrite ours, for this lifetime and all of the generations following. But what should be changed, and why? Who decides which risks are worth taking, and how do they--or should they--come to those conclusions?

 

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Black Lives Matter and the Color of the Public Square

Op-ed for Religion and Politics
DEC 2020 

What do the plaintiffs mean when they allege that Black Lives Matter (BLM) is both a cult and part of a larger religion called secular humanism? How did this line of thinking by the plaintiffs--that secular humanism is a religion and that it excludes by its racial inclusion--come to be possible in the public sphere?

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Re-thinking U.S. Religious Freedom, Sincerely

Op-ed for Berkley Forum
DEC 2020 

Is there a way to achieve a better politics of religious freedom and a more progressive role for religion in public life, after Trump and against the cultural and legal landscape he helped shape?

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The Value of Finding 'Patient Zero' in a Pandemic

Interviewed for KJZZ The Show
OCT 2020

In every epidemic or pandemic the world has faced, there is a search for the so-called “patient zero.”

From so-called “Typhoid Mary,” who was scorned for her supposed infectious state, to Gaétan Dugas, the flight attendant inaccurately blamed for starting the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, they are often unfairly vilified.

What is the value of tracking a “patient zero?” And where does the drive to find one come from?

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Experts Say One of Largest Federal Genetics Studies in History Could Leave People of Color Behind

Interviewed for KPBS News
OCT 2020

Scientific research uses bodies to derive data, raising questions about whose bodies are exploited in scientific research and whose bodies most benefit from scientific research and medical innovations.

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Reflections on Covid: Learning from Religious Diasporas in Pandemic Times

Article for Religion & Society 
SEPT 2020

Our social and professional activities during this extended pandemic may be shot through with compromise and consolation (whenever is this not the case?) As Anand Pandian (2020) offered recently, "When the driving pressure of this moment begins to ebb, as it will, where might we find ourselves? What kind of anthropology will we have made possible?” When a vaccine emerges as our own deus ex machina to lift our pandemic displacements, who will we have become?


Embodying Reciprocity: Relationality and Redistribution
in the Practice of Anthropology

Guest Series on Footnotes 
JUNE 2020

The guest series highlights the work of anthropologists who seek to unearth and transform academic practices that are entangled in hierarchical relationships, inviting scholars to reflect on how  researchers may better embody the kinds of reciprocal relations they frequently theorize.

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The Trump Era’s Tribalism Discourse: Reflections on a "Weird Euphemism"

Op-ed in The Revealer
MAY 2020

"Tribalism" has been a handy framework for contemporary political discourse invoking racialized colonialist logics and reflecting the anxieties of a tenuously secular age. 

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Caring for Creation: Ancient Wisdom
in Time of Crisis

Op-ed for Berkley Forum
APR 2020

The pandemic accentuates the need for virtue ethics, namely, the cultivation of a personality type that cares about protecting and preserving all aspects of the created world (biotic and abiotic), a personality type that cares for the thriving of all forms of life (humans and non-human) since their well-being is intertwined and interconnected, and a personality type that takes care of the environment
(physical, social, climatic) so as to ensure the ability of future generations to thrive in God’s created world. 

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Should We Alter the Human Genome? Let Democracy Decide

Op-ed for Scientific American
JAN 2020

Societal self-reflection demands humility on the part of science, coupled with awareness that there are questions science cannot properly pose, let alone answer on its own.

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New Articles on the Ethics of Genome Editing Published in The CRISPR Journal

Media mention
OCT 2019

Global democratic governance of germline gene editing demands a new mechanism for active, sustained reflection by scientists in partnership with scholars from other disciplines and the public. The authors present six recommendations to promote democratic governance.

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0s and 1s behind a series of images of a man in lights bent forward, taking long strides

What Past Innovations Can Teach Us About the Future

Op-ed for Techonomy
OCT 2019

Perhaps there are some techno-scientific doors we should close and, collectively, insist that humans never open. Historical cases may help teach us how to do so effectively.

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eye of a man seen looking through computerized screen

Is ALL Technology “Humane”?

Op-ed for Techonomy
OCT 2019

What makes us truly and fully human? What tools, techniques and technologies enhance and reinforce our humanity? And given the vast diversity in how humans live and what they want, could there ever be a single answer, or set of answers, to the question “what is humane about technology?”

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Misguided conceptions: CRISPR Babies and the Human Future.

Presentation given for MIT Technology Review
SEP 2019

Why does the judgment about whether or not the criteria were met to move forward with the first genetically tailored humans become a question for scientists rather than society to answer?

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If We Survive, Human Work Will Be Endless

Op-ed for Techonomy
AUG 2019

Why will the pursuit of beauty emerge as the defining ethos of innovation? Because creative expression sits at the core of the human story. In the decades and centuries ahead, beauty, art, and the search for new forms of meaning and transcendence will continue to sustain our species. 

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Researchers issue a statement of principles on gene editing

Interviewed for Chemical and Engineering News
AUG 2019

Experts consider complexities of germline gene editing modifications as complex ethical issues not only complex science.

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Report: Human Sperm Gene Editing Aims to Alter Generations

Interviewed for Newsmax
AUG 2019

The gene-editing technique CRISPR stirs hopes and fears, leading some experts to raise questions about the ethics of developing such impactful technologies that may be difficult to govern. 

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Scientists Attempt Controversial Experiment To Edit DNA In Human Sperm Using CRISPR


Interviewed for NPR
AUG 2019

Scientists are trying to use the gene-editing technology CRISPR to edit DNA within human sperm, some experts raise ethical questions: Would it ever be safe to make babies that way? Would it open the door to someone someday trying to make "designer babies"? Should scientists be trying to tinker with the human gene pool in ways that could affect generations to come?

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Is it ethical to edit human sperm with CRISPR?

Interviewed for The Advisory Board Company
AUG 2019

Scientists at Weill Cornell Medicine are trying to use the gene-editing technology CRISPR to edit DNA within human sperm, but some experts are questioning whether the technology should be developed. 

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Human Genome Editing: Ask Whether, Not How

Op-ed for Nature
JAN 2019

The question of whether it is (or can ever be) acceptable to genetically engineer children by introducing changes that they will pass on to their own offspring is a question that belongs not to science, but to all of humanity. At stake are the ways in which we as a human community guide and govern our technological futures.

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