Philippe Kourilsky

Science: A Natural Gift Publication date : April 1, 1998

In recent years, major strides have been made in the fields of science and technology—most notably in the life sciences—which are having an increasing impact on society at large. However, scientific information has not ceased to become more specialised and increasingly difficult to explain to the layperson, with the result, despite the growing number of scientific publications, that the public is often poorly informed, and even dangerously misinformed and a prey to groundless fears. Under such conditions how can individuals and the community as a whole make informed choices in the face of new scientific developments? Should citizens hand over all responsibility to the so-called experts? And if this happens, what will be the consequences for democracy?
Philippe Kourilsky offers a biologist’s critical appraisal of recent scientific events and their social repercussions and then studies the errors of communication that they engendered. He discusses biotechnology, the labelling of genetically-engineered maize, the memory of water molecules, and several aspects surrounding the scandal of HIV-infected blood. In addition, he tries to offer solutions to the problems of public information so as to reconcile scientific progress and democracy. This clearly written book by one of France’s top biologists covers all the major scientific issues raised in recent years. Aimed at the general reader, it is illustrated with concrete examples.Philippe Kourilsky teaches at the Institut Pasteur where he heads an INSERM research unit on genetics and molecular immunology. He is a member of the Académie des Sciences and a professor at the Collège de France. He is the author of Les Artisans de l’Hérédité published by Editions Odile Jacob.