This year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. Written by a teenage ple of science fiction and horror explores the ethics of scientific discovery. In the story, Victor Frankenstein brings a corpse (or, many pieces of corpses sewn together) to life. Instead of continuing to study his creation, he runs away leaving it alone and defenseless. At first, the creature attempts to befriend the people he meets, but they are so offended by this specimen that they chase him away. Eventually, both the scientist and the experiment are left alone with their misery, floating off on icebergs.
Frankenstein was based on real science at the time-Galvanism-when scholars and showmen were animating dead bodies with small electric shocks. Shelley saw some of these demonstrations and, after a few rainy night’s in Byron’s castle, penned the novel. Against this bleak backdrop, Shelley asks us to consider who is responsible for the devastation in her story? Is it the scientist who never took responsibility for his own work? Or, could it be the people, those who shunned the scientific anomaly because they didn’t like what they saw? What happens when other people make a monster out of your work?
We are still wrestling with these questions today as we debate gender and genetics. A recent article from Bewerte mein Date App Amy Harmon in The New York Times reports on communities willfully misinterpreting recent research in social science and genetics to support white supremacist views. At the same time, the department of Health and Human Services is considering establishing a formal definition of gender grounded in “scientific evidence” that could curtail civil rights protections for transgender and nonbinary people-despite the fact that biological research doesn’t support this binary view.
Many geneticists at the top of their field say they do not have the ability to communicate to a general audience on such a complicated and fraught topic
The scariest part of these stories isn’t just that science is taken in bad faith, it is also the confusion about who is responsible for correcting these problems.