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Good Science, Bad Ethics Or, Does the end Justify the Means.

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Presentation on theme: "Good Science, Bad Ethics Or, Does the end Justify the Means."— Presentation transcript:

1 Good Science, Bad Ethics Or, Does the end Justify the Means

2 Introduction 1935 Max Delbrück publishes paper on gene mutation 1944 Research into viruses shows that DNA was responsible for gene mutation 1946 Schrödinger popularizes idea of genes as information carriers in his book What is Life? The race to discover the geometrical arrangement of the DNA, the Rosetta Stone of genetics, was on!

3 The Players Linus Pauling discovers the basic structure of the protein molecule at Cal Tech in Soon after he starts to model DNA. Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin begin studying the structure of DNA using X-ray crystallography by 1951 at Kings college In that year James Watson joined Francis Crick as researchers in the Cavendish laboratory under the supervision of Max Perutz and Sir Lawrence Bragg Bragg and Perutz had been studying complex proteins for some time, also using X-ray techniques

4 Important investigations into the structure of DNA were done by Pauling, Wilkins and Franklin. It was Crick and Watson who were able to pull everything together and make a correct model

5 1953 Watson and Crick are the first to publish the correct structure of DNA 1958 Franklin dies 1962 Watson, Crick, and Wilkins are awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine 1967 Watson publishes The Double Helix, his account of the discovery Watsons account reveals he is a jerk and he and Crick violated ethical norms for scientists

6 Wilkins and Franklin Wilkins considered Franklin his lab assistant, this was not the case There was bad blood between Wilkins and Franklin Franklin takes first X-rays of DNA It was Wilkins that provided Franklins data to Crick and Watson Franklin was not credited in Watson and Cricks paper

7 Sir Bragg Bragg was in charge of the Cavendish laboratory Unwritten standards at the time dictated that scientists not compete with colleagues on projects DNA was Wilkins project, Bragg told Watson and Crick to cease work Watson and Crick push ahead anyway

8 The Double Helix Harvard University Press refused to publish the book Crick, Wilkins, and others objected to Watsons book claiming it misrepresented the truth Watsons portrayal of women in general and Franklin in particular was demeaning and at times simply untrue

9 Watson, you twit! The thought could not be avoided that the best home for a feminist was in another persons lab. Momentarily I wondered how she would look if she took off her glasses and did something novel with her hair. (Franklin did not wear glasses) Sir Lawrence Bragg was a relic of the past who had lived too long under the shadow of his famous father. In France fair play obviously did not exist. A goodly number of scientists are not only narrow minded and dull, but also just stupid. –Points to Ponder Is there a code of ethics for scientists? What are the consequences for a breach of said code? Is it a scientists responsibility to accurately represent an event, a situation, or person? Is moral fuzziness and acceptable price to pay for scientific innovation?

10 Evidence Watson/Crick Acted Unethically Watson was in violation of his fellowship Watson and Crick were told by Bragg to discontinue research on DNA Kings College group already working on DNA Unpublished data was obtained without Franklins knowledge and used without her consent Franklin was misrepresented and unrecognized

11 Points to Ponder Is there a code of ethics for scientists? What are the consequences for a breach of said code? Is it a scientists responsibility to accurately represent an event, a situation, or person? Is moral fuzziness and acceptable price to pay for scientific innovation?

12 The True Turtleneck

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14 References Watson, James The Double Helix; Edited by Gunther S. Stent, Norton & Co Edition contains original papers, reviews and commentaries from several sources James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin article from website copyright 2000 The Chemical Heritage Society Rosalind Franklin from


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