Strand: Scientific skirmishes

New science frequently throws up new political and ethical questions for society. For example, as we learn more about the role of our DNA in defining us individuals, do we need to accept that our education and upbringing are less important than we once thought? Does this undermine our autonomy, or can we use new techniques to transcend our biology, from enhancing our intelligence and physical capacities to extending our lifespans? Another problem is the torrent of often-contradictory research reports. What's gone wrong with academia and how can we fix it? Then there are more fundamental questions to be asked about our relationship with nature. Is the natural world there purely for our benefit, to be used and abused as we please? This debate is particularly heated when it comes to animals. Is sentience the correct benchmark for how we treat other forms of life? How do we define sentience?