Thursday, August 28, 2008

Letter to a Scientist in the Third World

Dear Professor,

Fear of science is one of the frontiers of human understanding.

Not just in the third-world, but here in the "West" as well. Colleges and universities want physics and chemistry, but they don't want scientists to connect physics and chemistry with human existence.

Science is about speaking truth to irrational and illegitimate power. Science is democracy of information. Science is antithetical to every social force that concentrates knowledge and power.

To teach science, in contrast to teaching technology, is to teach critical thinking. This is the core of the Enlightenment and the core of freedom.

To teach science is to teach students that it is okay to talk back to power. Colleges and universities exist as a tense battlefield between the forces of those seeking truth and beauty, and those seeking power and domination.

I don't think I will be teaching science at Bicol University. Science is not wanted. They want you to teach physics and keep your mouth shut about the chemistry of human physiology--about the evolution of human chemistry.

Every institution of learning struggles between the path of culturally-safe job training, and culturally dangerous intellectual exploration of reality. The battle for science is the battle for reality as we know it, versus the illusions of cultural power.

Science is democracy realized. Science is teaching critical thinking. is freedom.

Teaching science honors the intellect of the poorest student and shines light on the dark corners of illegitimate power.

I won't be teaching any science at Bicol University. I suspect they fear it.

The greatest challenge in the third world is not jobs, but superstition, fear, and the infantilization of colonial religion.

To teach science is to empower the poor. To teach technology is in service to the subjugation of the poor to those who know the difference between science and technology. To know the difference is to know the difference between self-respect and oppression.

Science is liberating; technology is oppression.

Mark Mason

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