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Hyperpuffball's picture


Our class discussion on responsibility made me rethink why I am a chemistry major and why I wish to find a job researching science.

Before reading Frankenstein, if someone had asked me why I wished to be a research scientist, I would have sited money and general personal interest as reasons.

After digesting this horror story, I find that I did not know my own motivations. I wish to be able to help those who cannot help themselves through my research- to find answers to immunological and biochemical questions that allow for healing and aid for those who need it.

Frankenstein scared the living daylights out of me: what would I do if my research ends up becoming used to hurt people, instead of heal? Would I be able to take responsibility for my research, however inanimate it may be? Will I be able to think far enough ahead to see for what I might need to take responsibility?

When researchers publish work, they take responsibility for its efficacy and the ethics concerned with producing the work. As a published author of research, I know that I will be held responsible if it is found that someone I worked with fugded numbers or mistreated the rabbits we worked with. I will have the black mark on my record, I will be the person facing the ethics board, not the person who messed up.

This also means that any major new ideas brought to light by my research will be credited to me, and not those working with me whose names were not on the co-author list.

But how far can we stretch this responsibility? Am I responsible if someone else finds that millions of people can be killed with a drug that was found based off of my research? It was my original research, but they were the ones who decided to use it to hurt people.

I now find myself having nightmarish day dreams about a friend, a coworker, a fellow researcher using my ideas to hurt people who I intended to help.

Will it be my intention or the result that is remembered?


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