This classic Newspaper item could easily have been Geoff Hardcastle speaking at a London conference in the summer of 1970...
Young Scientist Terrified For The Future
A graduate who wanted to make a career in experimental psychology dropped his studies and finished with research because he was "terrified with the way things were going in the scientiﬁc world" an international science conference was told in London yesterday.
Mr. Pete Harper, aged 25, of Brighton, who was working for his Ph.D. at Sussex University, was talking about the crisis in science and technology at the conference on the threats and promises of science, at Imperial College.
He said: "I was doing experimental biochemistry on memory. This involved experiments on certain strains of rats, which involved the transfer of memory from one animal to another by brain extract.
“At the moment we are working with rats but it might not always be the case and the obvious extension is to humans.
I think there are certain things it is just as well not to know and I wrote out my resignation.
“The professor told me: ‘l think you are mad but the best of luck. I ﬁnish at the end of term but my views have not changed. Most science is a waste of time and sometimes it is positively harmful". Mr Harper said some people thought that the only way to change things was by the application of more science. That was an attractive theory but it ms only a guess and nobody knew what the effect would be for the future.
Mr. Harper was one of a group of 80 young academics from I5 nations with growing misgivings over science‘s role in altering the way we live. They hope the conference will lead to the establishment of a permanent organization to focus the attention of people on the influence on life of science and technology.
Among the topics to be covered are the population explosion, the exhaustion of world resources, destruction of national environment, mass destruction weaponry, and depersonalization of the individual.
Experimental pyschology in a Sussex Institution? Why, isn't that where The Devil's Sweets were concocted? And experiments with the brains of rats? I hope their cages were a little bit stronger than Dr. Mary Bryants... And I wonder if Dr. Kit Pedler was in the audience, nodding sagely...
With thanks to Michael Seely