Science and Society

Human Wrongs Watch

5 October 2016

By John Scales Avery*

I would like to announce that an updated and very much enlarged edition of mu book “Science and Society” will very soon be published by World Scientific (in November, 2016).


John Scales Avery

The book can be purchased at a 20% discount at the following address by quoting the code number WSSPPS20.

This book has a very interesting history. In 1986, a friend from the World Health Organization called my attention to an essay contest sponsored by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

A prize was offered for the best essay on how to give science and engineering students a sense of social responsibility for the consequences of their work. I wrote an essay arguing that the best way to do this would be to introduce a course on the history and social impact of science.

It would make students aware of the vast social consequences of scietific and technilogical progress, and the sections dealing with modern times would discuss topics such as genetic engineering, nuclear weapons, sustainability and climate change.

My essay did not win the competition, but my WHO friend liked it so much that he translated it into Danish, and we submitted it for publication to “Politiken”, one of Denmark’s largest newspapers.

Many students from the University of Copenhagen read my essay in “Politiken”. They came to me and said: “If you really believe what you wrote, then you have to make such a course for us”.

As a result, I started to teach a course which initially had the title “Science, Ethics and Politics”.

It was very difficult to get it accepted by the Studies Committee, which thought that science, ethics and politics were three entirely different things, and that they ought not to be connected in any way.

Finally I was allowed to give the course under the condition that neither I nor any of the students would get any credit for it.

In spite of these difficulties, the course was a huge success. The audiences were very large and enthusiastic, and we had many distinguished guest speakers.

I wrote the book, “Science and Society”, and we used it as a text. The students presented reports on the chapters of the book, and on supplementary books that they had read. We also saw many films, borrowed from the United Nations Information Service, which happened to have an office in Copenhagen.

Finally, when the name of the course was changed to “Science and Society”, the Studies Committee allowed students to get credits for attending it.

Meanwhile, the President (Rektor) of the University of Copenhagen, Professor Ove Nathan, was aware of my course and the troubles with the Studies Committee. He kept sending me encouraging notes, telling me to keep on with the project, regardless of how bitterly it was opposed.

Later, Prof. Nathan telephoned to me and asked me to become the Contact Person for Denmark for Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. They had asked him to do this, but he was too busy with his duties as Rektor.

In this way, I became Contact Person for Pugwash, and Chairman of the Danish National Pugwash Group. The Pugwash organization shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons and to peacefully solve global problems related to science. (See

Locally printed editions of “Science and Society” were used in courses taught not only in Denmark, but also in Sweden, Switzerland, England and Myanmar. In Denmark, there were several other similar courses, for example at the Niels Bohr Institure.

In 2001 those of us who taught courses relating to social responsibility wrote to the Danish Minister of Education saying that attendance at such a course ought to be compulsory for all students of science and engineering.

The Minister called together the heads of all Danish institutions of higher education, and they accepted the proposal. In 2004, these courses were ready, and they have been given ever since then at all universities and technical institutes in Denmark.

In expanding and updating “Science and Society”, I hope to inform a large public about the very serious challenges that we are facing today, including threats of catastrophic climate change, thermonuclear war and large-scale global famine.

Although many of these problems are the result of the astonishingly rapid growth of science and technology, and the misuse of our increased power over nature, it is not only scientists who need to act to find solutions. Everyone needs to be informed, and everyone must accept responsibility.

I am a little worried by the fact that some of the later chapters in the book require a technical background for full comprehension, but I hope that non-technical readers will just skip over the difficult parts. It would be very good if the book could be used at the high-school or gymnasium level, as well as in colleges and universities.

Finally, here is a link to an article where I have tried to make my Internet publications more easily available:

*Author: John Scales Avery, Ph.D., who was part of a group that shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network and Associate Professor Emeritus at the H.C. Ørsted Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

He is chairman of both the Danish National Pugwash Group and the Danish Peace Academy and received his training in theoretical physics and theoretical chemistry at M.I.T., the University of Chicago and the University of London.

He is the author of numerous books and articles both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. His most recent book is Civilization’s Crisis in the 21st Century

Don’t miss these articles by John Scales Avery in Human Wrongs Watch:

Fossil Fuels: At What Price?

Human Nature: An Evolutionary Paradox

Mainstream Media Are Betraying Humanity

US Elections Cry Out for Reform!

NATO Threatens Europe With Annihilation

USA: Another Stolen Election?

The Danger of Fascism in the United States

Creating the Future

OPEC Oil and Climate Change

A Scientist Presses for Action on Many Fronts: A Review of The Need for a New Economic System by John Scales Avery

John Scales Avery – Collected Essays


Culture, Education and Human Solidarity

The United States Drifts Towards Political Irresponsibilty

Paris: We Need System Change!

Paris and the Long-Term Future

We Must Stop the Madness of Brinkmanship

Paris, India, and Coal

Paris: A Sense of Proportions Is Urgently Needed

Debt Slavery

Book Review: Aurelio Peccei and Daisako Ikeda, “Before It Is Too Late”

The Need for a New Economic System – PART IX: a New Society, a New Social Contract, a New Way Life

The Need for a New Economic System – PART VIII: The Cooperative Movement

The Need for a New Economic System – PART VII: The Global Food Crisis

The Need for a New Economic System – PART VI: Adverse Effects of Globalization

The Need for a New Economic System – PART V: The Threats and Costs of War

The Need for a New Economic System – PART IV: Neocolonialism and Resource Wars

The Need for a New Economic System – Part III: Climate Change and the Urgent Need for Renewable Energy

The Need for a New Economic System – PART II: Entropy and Economics

The Need for a New Economic System – PART I : Limits to Growth

Israel, Iran and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Debt Slavery

Will the Real Issues Be Discussed in 2016?

Militarism’s Hostages

New Hope for Avoiding Catastrophic Climate Change

Exponential Growth

Albert Einstein, Scientist and Pacifist

“The Path to Zero: Dialogues on Nuclear Dangers”, by Richard Falk and David Krieger

Millay’s “Epitaph for the Race of Man” 

The Future of International Law (Part I)

The Future of International Law (Part II)

The Future of International Law (Part III)

Europe Must Not Be Forced Into a Nuclear War with Russia

Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Europe – The Dangers Are Very Great Today

Why Is the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons So Urgent?

Why Is the Military-Industrial Complex Sometimes Called “The Devil’s Dynamo”?

Of Reciprocity and Karma

Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand Is at Our Throats

Perpetual War

Kill or Be Killed… Or Both!

Does It Make Sense to Saw Off the Branch on Which You Are Sitting?

Blood for Oil – The Close Relationship Between Petroleum and War

2016 Human Wrongs Watch

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