Victor McElheny

American science writer and journalist (born 1935)

Victor King McElheny (born 6 September 1935) is an American science writer, journalist, and biographer.

Quotes edit

  • The performance record for interdisciplinary gatherings of superstars addressing themselves to world problems is not especially formidable. But quite possibly a new record for chaos and non achievement was established 29 August–2 September in this mountain resort at an international conference on "Technology: Social Goals and Cultural Options," participated in by some 69 scientists, science policy "statesmen," writers, and assorted hangers-on. The proceedings were characterized by anarchic wrangling in which Murray Gell-Mann, Nobel laureate in physics at Caltech, took an exuberant lead in his role as conference cochairman.
  • Watson could so easily have been brushed aside as a crazy kid and an arrogant pest, whose great discovery was a fluke based on others' data. But after much agonizing over what he would do for an encore, he settled for a career of getting things goings. He became an intellectual manager on a vast scale without showing the fatherly instincts of a Niels Bohr.
    • Watson and DNA: Making a Scientific Revolution. New York: Perseus Books. 2003.  2004 pbk edition. Basic Books. p. xi. 
  • The march of genomics is taking place alongside a background of ethical and spiritual anxieties. Would the information, particularly the theories of evolution that are the core of all biology and medicine, assault people's religious faith? ... Would the information be misused by employers or insurers—or by people wishing to design their offspring?
    • Drawing the Map of Life: Inside the Human Genome Project. New York: Basic Books. 2010.  2012 pbk edition. 
  • My own “take” on my career is that I was driven to, or striving for, the job of witness to an age of technological change. The main intellectual quest was to grasp history, in the sense of people as different as C.P. Snow and Fernand Braudel and Garrett Mattingly of The Armada, the stumbling and contingent story of how we got where we are. The motto is, “We are fated to survive.” The smart aleck formulation could be: “Nothing so interesting as Armageddon will happen.” My 2017 essay in the 60th anniversary book of my class of 1957 (pages 683-692) at Harvard is entitled, “So We Decided Not to Blow Ourselves Up."

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