Tue, Mar 20, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Documentary series tells role of science in societal incidents

Staff writer, with CNA

The first in a series of eight documentary films that explore the role of science and technology in several high-profile societal incidents in Taiwan premiered at National Chengchi University in Taipei on Friday last week.

It delves into how scientific facts were used to establish causation in an ongoing tort litigation against Radio Corp of America (RCA), a US home appliance maker founded in 1919 that had an operation center in Taoyuan from 1970 to 1992.

The films dissect the RCA case and others to reflect on the application of science in understanding socio-technical controversies and its limits in characterizing such problems, said Tu Wen-ling (杜文苓), who heads the project.

“We hope that the films will enhance people’s knowledge about science, which can help protect them against health and environmental risks caused by misuse of technology, and expand the use of science in the quest for justice,” said Tu, a professor at the university’s Department of Public Administration.

Initiated three years ago, the project also involves academics from five other universities whose expertise range from public health, biotechnology, environmental engineering and mechanical engineering to science education, mass communication and public policy in the interdisciplinary field of science, technology and society.

The films, produced by award-winning Dong Tai Communication, also tackle subjects such as the discharge of contaminated water by precious metals refineries, pollution control in the petrochemistry industry and safety issues exposed by a series of gas explosions in Kaohsiung in 2014 that killed 30 people.

Yang Bei-chang (楊倍昌), head of the Taiwan Science, Technology and Society Association, hailed the films as a milestone in establishing collaboration between technical and social scientists to address challenges facing society.

He has been experimenting in his laboratory for the past 25 years, said Yang, a professor at National Cheng Kung University’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

“Sometimes we think we have made contributions to humanity when our hypotheses can be tested through experiments, but the results remain unfathomable to most people without help from social scientists, who know how to convey the results in ordinary language,” Yang said.

The first three parts of the series are to air on Formosa TV on Saturday, March 31 and April 7.

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