'Stories of Science Gone Wrong' by Paul A Offit. The book begins with a quote, "Invention does not consist of creating out of void, but out of chaos". And I expected the book to come up with new ideas out of confusion.
Rightly, author's introduction mentions of the search for the worst inventions ever, and how he could reach the seven ones described in the book.
The opening chapter is about opium, how it revolutionized the management of pain, while forcing us to live with the dangers of addiction. A chapter on Fritz Haber, and his work on the synthesis of Nitrogen follows it, which examine the revolutionary changes it brought to agricuture, and consequentially, the balance of world power. The terrible tragedy it unleashed, is then examined. Nitrogen pollution and its effect on the living world, nitrogen and its products of chemical warfare like mustard gas, phosgene gas and others that found a way into the gas chambers are poignantly described. (Where his son too is made to go)
A chapter about the book "The Passing of the Great Race", the revolution of eugenics it unleashed everywhere, compulsory sterilization and other horrible experiments that followed in nazi Germany, and other related matter, then follows.
Narrating the story of Rosemary Kennedy as an example, the horrors of lobotomy is analyzed next. The story of Linus Pauling and the tragic craze for vitamins and a few mor stories of similar vein follows it.
As the book mentions, although we hold on to the hope of a better life through science, we need to approach all scientific advances cautiously and with eyes wide open—and to make sure that we learn from our mistakes and aren’t simply paralyzed by them. For gains in the short term, we are letting ourselves to be overwhelmed by losses in the long term.
I liked the book. It proves once again my view - that humans need not think rationally most of the times- correct.