Scientists wash their hands of war weapons guilt

As early as the 1930s scientists were engaged in war industry research , well before they invented the atomic bomb. There were groups of ethical scientists who fought against this dangerous trend. They pointed out that the armaments industry was funding research in universities which would inevitably be used to disastrous effect in future wars. Chemists had already devised “mustard gas” used in trench warfare in World War I:

“At this point men of evil will stepped in, the military intelligence came into operation, and the forces of disunion, envy, hatred and malice” were unleashed. Like Pontius Pilate the scientists washed their hands of any guilt: “It is as if the house of the spirit, which was previously inhabited by the genius of religion, always preoccupied about God, Man, the Good, the Holy, the Right, were thoroughly spring-cleaned, swept and garnished, leaving nothing but the empty rooms and bare walls of scientific ethical neutrality, whereupon seven other demons, all worse than the first, including war and pestilence, enter in and take up permanent residence there”

[Joseph Needham,1931]

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