The influence of science on peoples lives is growing. While recent benefits to humanity are unparalleled in the history of the human species, in some instances the impact has been harmful or the long-term effects give causes for serious concerns. A considerable measure of public mistrust of science and fear of technology exists today. In part, this stems from the belief by some individuals and communities that they will be the ones to suffer the indirect negative consequences of technical innovations introduced to benefit only a privileged minority. The power of science to bring about change places a duty on scientists to proceed with great caution both in what they do and what they say. Scientists should reflect on the social consequences of the technological applications or dissemination of partial information of their work and explain to the public and policy makers alike the degree of scientific uncertainty or incompleteness in their findings. At the same time, though, they should not hesitate to fully exploit the predictive power of science, duly qualified, to help people cope with environmental change, especially in cases of direct threats like natural disasters or water shortages.
The idea of setting personal deadlines harmonizes with previous work done by behavioral researchers Dan Ariely and Klaus Wertenbroch on “precommitment.” In a 2002 issue of Psychological Science, Ariely and Wertenbroch reported that procrastinators were willing to set meaningful deadlines for themselves, and that the deadlines did in fact improve their ability to complete a task.
Believe it or not, the Internet did not give rise to procrastination
Many developing countries have well-qualified scientists but often they are few in number and lack the resources and political support needed to solve complex problems or to apply their knowledge to national issues. In Mexico, where agriculture remains an important part of the national economy, scientific work related to food production and food security is complicated by a web of social problems such as rural poverty, social discrimination against peasants, migration to cities because of changes in land use, weak transportation and marketing services, and lack of farmer access to credit. In the area of health, too, the problems of developing countries are much different than those of developed countries. Chagas Disease and schistosomiasis, for example, are endemic in many developing nations, yet they receive very little attention by health scientists and pharmaceutical firms in industrialized countries.