Breaking Bad Exposes Dark Side of Science Without Morality

Bioethics   |   Wesley J. Smith   |   Sep 30, 2013   |   1:36PM   |   Washington, DC

I have been binging on Breaking Bad so that I could watch the last episode in real time. The show was a remarkable morality play, and one of the best television shows I have ever watched. (I am not on “Team Walt.” The character’s sense of personal failure and raw envy unleashed a murderously selfish evil.)

Ross Douthat explores the country’s reaction to the program in an excellent NYT column. And he brings up something I hadn’t caught in the show, that I think is worth pondering. From, “The World According to Walter White:”

By making Walt a chemistry genius, the show offers an implicit rebuke to the persistent modern conceit that a scientific worldview logically implies liberalism, humanism and a widening circle of concern. On “Breaking Bad,” that worldview just makes Walt a better kingpin, and the beautiful equations of chemistry are deployed to addict, poison, decompose.

We have discussed this matter here–and in the greater Internet ether–often. Naked science is amoral. It takes a proper morality to keep science beneficent.



Douthat is right. Through art, Breaking Bad demonstrates that the assumption among many that a society ruled by “science” would, by definition, be humane and compassionate is an utterly ridiculous notion. Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a bioethics attorney who blogs at Human Exeptionalism.