An inspiring scientist and a nutty professor

Cheers for a test-tube pioneer who improved our lives, but jeers for the druggy professor who would rule our lives.

Tim Black

Tim Black
Columnist

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Topics Politics

Hero – Professor Sir Robert Edwards

‘An event that can have very grave consequences for humanity.’ This was how the Vatican greeted the news on 25 July 1978 that Lesley Brown had given birth to a baby girl called Louise. Louise Brown, you see, was no ordinary baby; she was the world’s first test-tube baby, a product of the perseverance, ingenuity and no little heroism of two medical scientists, Patrick Steptoe (who died in 1988) and Robert Edwards who died, aged 87 earlier this month….

Zero – Professor David Nutt

So, there are some, like Edwards, who believe that science is constantly enlarging the scope of human possibility, making us ever freer from what appear to be natural constraints or limits. This is not to bow down before the science; it is to believe that its application is for our practical benefit. And then there are others who have a rather different conception of the role of science and the scientist. They believe that it is up to science and its practitioners not to improve our lives, but to tell us how to live our lives…

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