Religion, Science and Technology in Public Life
Provocations: Re-thinking Ethics
Interviewed for NPR
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.
Was 'science' on the ballot?
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.
Article for The Wire
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.
Report prepared for Futures Forum on Preparedness
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.
Interviewed for Radio Open Source
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?
Op-ed for Religion and Politics
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?
Re-thinking U.S. Religious Freedom, SincerelyOp-ed for Berkley Forum
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?
The Value of Finding 'Patient Zero' in a Pandemic
Interviewed for KJZZ The Show
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?
Experts Say One of Largest Federal Genetics Studies in History Could Leave People of Color Behind
Interviewed for KPBS News
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.
Article for Religion & Society
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?
Guest Series on Footnotes
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.
The Trump Era’s Tribalism Discourse: Reflections on a "Weird Euphemism"
Op-ed in The Revealer
"Tribalism" has been a handy framework for contemporary political discourse invoking racialized colonialist logics and reflecting the anxieties of a tenuously secular age.
Caring for Creation: Ancient Wisdom
Op-ed for Scientific American
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.
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.
What Past Innovations Can Teach Us About the Future
Op-ed for Techonomy
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.
Is ALL Technology “Humane”?
Op-ed for Techonomy
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?”
Presentation given for MIT Technology Review
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?
Op-ed for Techonomy
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.
Researchers issue a statement of principles on gene editing
Interviewed for Chemical and Engineering News
Experts consider complexities of germline gene editing modifications as complex ethical issues not only complex science.
Interviewed for Newsmax
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.
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?
Is it ethical to edit human sperm with CRISPR?
Interviewed for The Advisory Board Company
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.
Human Genome Editing: Ask Whether, Not How
Op-ed for Nature
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.