"Primum Non Nocere"

Primum Non Nocere

The fascade of a historical building in Izmir.

Primum non nocere, "first, do no harm"*. That sounds obvious, but is it? Not in the "fundamental assumptions" that drive all aspects of modern life. We are repeatedly told that innovation is the direct result of taking risks. Our whole economic system runs on risk. Risk is equated to bravery. We worship risk-takers who are successful. But we rarely ever hear about risk-takers who fail.

When should we not take risks? If you jump off a plane without a parachute, you're not taking a risk, you're commuting suicide. That's obvious. But, what do we do when it's less obvious? What do we do when we can't even predict potential harm? Do we still take risks? Or how about, when it involves others. Do we take risks on their behalf? When DDT was introduced as an insecticide, it almost wiped out numerous species of wildlife. It was later found to be toxic and a carcinogen. DDT was banned in 1972, but it's health and environmental effects remain to this date.

Science and progress, when driven by profits, often invert and distort the principle of "first, do no harm". They circumvent the precautionary principle, both in it's strong and weak forms. For profit they gamble with the future of humanity and all life on earth. When they introduce a new product, they claim that "there is no evidence of harm". But, no evidence of harm IS NOT evidence of no harm. They have it backwards, as evident in GMO's, growth based economy, genetics and most technology.

* "Primum non nocere" can be stated as, "given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or even to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good."
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