Science is a Key to Understanding Human Need

Scientific study not only provides an empirical understanding of the world around us. Science is also a key to understand humanity— our needs and how to fulfill those needs. I have always been directed in science by human need.  What good is knowledge if not to use it to better the world? This is an important distinction. What scientific understanding is important for you, and what is important for your fellow human?

Science, as a discipline, is agnostic. It is a tool.  My priority has always been to use science to help meet human needs. I respect those who seek knowledge only to satisfy their curiosity or to understand our world and our universe. That has not been my path. My purpose is to advance science to improve human health. A study of the human condition has guided my path. I seek a broad understanding of our collective culture and history–where society has been, where it is going. That knowledge informs the problems I choose to investigate.

This leads me to inform my scientific study with humanity in mind. You need a broad understanding of human culture, of human history, to create socio-scientific understanding. Where society has been, where it is going, and what people need. Humanities academics and scientists have a responsibility to work together to mutual benefit. Humanities inform scientific pursuits. Sciences improve basic living conditions, which enables more people to study the humanities.

Covid-19, for example, is not only a matter of science and medicine. Without understanding human needs, social patterns, politics, and medical history, we are likely to fail in our attempts to control the pandemic. Millions are dying, unemployed, and scared. Countries need to reflect on their priorities, especially those that disregard their people’s well-being for political or economic gain.

As you embark on a career in science, begin by asking what contribution you want to make. Science is one discipline whereby insights of one person can improve the condition of all.

This blog is one in a series showcasing writing samples from my autobiography: My Lifelong Fight Against Disease. Available for purchase here.

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.