Nature magazine on dangerous research

"[A]lthough scientists are uniquely qualified to understand what will be possible, they are not always best able to judge the dangers."

- Nature editorial

An editorial in the most recent issue of the international journal highlights the problems that arise when scientists discover, reveal or invent something that can potentially cause problems in the wider world. Should scientists police their own discoveries, or should outside scrutiny always control a researcher's activities? The issue is controversial and there is probably no black-and-white answer. In some cases, the scientists involved in very complicated knowledge may be the only ones who truly understand the potential dangers; on the other hand, scientists may not have the time, desire or training to be best placed to understand the dangers from society's point of view. In both cases, the piece argues that it should be up to researchers to open up dialogue about any use or misuse of their discoveries further down the line.