Assessing the signs of ferment.
Modern biology, born scarcely a century ago, now reigns as queen of the sciences, commanding an unequaled wealth of economic, technical, and manpower resources. The fruit of biological knowledge appears everywhere. It has revolutionized agriculture through plant genetics, plant physiology, and soil chemistry. It has transformed animal husbandry through artificial insemination, antibiotics, and biochemically synthesized feeding supplements. It has conquered infectious diseases from polio to smallpox, and now it promises to eradicate heart disease and cancer.
New careers in biology are created almost daily. Biostatisticians, behavior geneticists, and neurophyshopharmcologists are just a few of the biological professions that have arisen in recent decades. The technology of modern biology is a source of wonder; in television soap operas and documentaries we see rooms filled with electronic equipment connected to patients by myriads of tubes and electrodes; gowned and gloved neurosurgeons carve out chunks of brain to relieve intractable epilepsy.
The virility of biological science appears most clearly in the way it encroaches on other disciplines. Optimistic biologists propose incorporating the social sciences and even the humanities into biology. After all, they argue, since man is fundamentally a biological organism, biology provides the proper framework in which to study him. History, for example, is a record of biological selection and survival through the interaction of human gene pools with varying ecological conditions. And war is a product of collective biological behavior placed under conditions of certain biological scarcities. According to such reasoning, the first step toward the solution ...1
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