Modern man between science and ignorance

Submitted by munir on Sat, 11/12/2022 - 09:05

In 2001, UNESCO designated the 10th of November as the World Science Day for Peace and Development. “This day highlights the important role of science in society and the need to engage the wider public in discussions on emerging scientific issues. It also emphasizes The importance and relevance of science in our daily lives” as stated on the website of the organization concerned.


In addition, this day aims to "link science more closely with society" as well as to "ensure that the general public is informed on scientific developments."


This day also holds scientists responsible for "expanding perceptions about the Earth we live on and its fragility, which motivates action to make our societies more sustainable."


As for the United Nations General Assembly, held on December 2, 2021, it confirmed the proposal to “declare 2022 as the International Year of Basic Science for Sustainable Development,” considering that basic science applications play a vital role in achieving progress in various basic areas of human life, which include Medicine, industry, agriculture, water resources, energy planning, environment, communications and culture to name a few.


On its website, UNESCO informs us that the annual celebration of World Science Day aims to reach a "new social contract for science", which holds science and scientists with a primary responsibility for "establishing sustainable societies." In addition, this contract ensures that people are informed of and can participate in "developments in the field of science". Through this, the World Science Day has contributed to raising awareness among the general public about the usefulness of science in their daily life. In addition, this day initiates dialogue on side issues related to the concern of science and society.


It is worth mentioning here that the World Science Day for Peace and Development for the year 2017 carried the slogan “Harnessing science to achieve global understanding” because of its impact on achieving peace and sustainable development, “due to its contribution to strengthening the commitment of individuals and local communities to share knowledge in order to stimulate action and behavioral changes. All of this is based on the principle that sciences have a key role in mutual understanding between societies because they facilitate our understanding of society, life and the universe, in addition to facilitating social change and development, the goal of every people looking to a better future.


There is no doubt that such an occasion raises a number of problems - questions that accompany our lives on a daily basis as well as on the strategic level as well.


The first problem relates to the production of science and the financing of this production, and consequently the ownership and investment of this production by marketing it as a material needed by society. The cost of scientific research and production of commodities does not justify the high prices of these products in the market. The obvious question that arises here is: Who monitors the setting of prices for innovative goods that result from scientific research, and are these goods owned by monopolistic bodies?


The second problem relates to the content of the scientific research result. Does this result have an impact on humanity, individually or collectively? Does it have implications for individual security or national security? Hence, to what extent can the products of some types of research affect the lives of people and society positively or negatively?


The third problem is related to generalizing the results of scientific research to people and making them freely available for use. This problem, and the questions that may result from it, is based on the fact that a lot of research is funded by governments, and these governments do not place conditions on researchers or on the results of their research, which means that they have to put the research results at the disposal of the public if it can be used directly.


The fourth problem is about the conditions of scientific research. Do researchers in any field respect the various conditions that protect humans and the environment? In other words, it is not in the interest of man to develop one aspect of his life at the expense of other aspects or other people.


The fifth problem revolves around the incubating environment for the outputs of scientific research. Is the social, cultural and technical environment in which this research is conducted capable of absorbing and benefiting from the products of this research? There is a cultural timing as well as a legislative timing as well as a technical timing, and all of them are prerequisites for benefiting from the results of scientific research at the societal level.


As for what concerns those specialized in the field, it is the research gap that exists between societies, just like the electronic chasm that separates the developed world from the developing world. Here, I cannot expect that scientific research and its production will be equal between the prosperous and wealthy industrialized countries, and the developing and poor countries, since the first is far ahead of the second and attracts frustrated researchers and scientists from the second. Equality of opportunity and justice are lacking in this field. Therefore, those interested in the matter wonder to what extent research, in basic sciences in particular, can be a means of sustainability in social development and a means of peace among peoples.


We fear that scientific research will perpetuate the rift between dominant nations and defeated nations, languishing in the swamps of submission and dependency, especially since the investments of the dominant nations in the economies of the weak nations do not allow those to progress, but rather increase their dependence.


On the other hand, we cannot ask societies that are capable of scientific research not to do it, because the cost of ignorance is much greater than all the costs of science.


This is a paradox that can only be resolved by love that challenges the scientific and administrative mind of both the researcher and the investor. Let them remember that the Creator and society are both behind their successes, and they should do justice to people by not taking advantage of their ignorance or their need.


We really need a new social contract for science based on justice and humanity.

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Dr. Michel E. Abs/ Secretary General of the Middle East Council of Churches