Science divides the world into winners and losers
Amid a lot of ridicule, a conference that aimed to prove that the Earth is not round was held in the UK last month. There was also a similar conference held last year that was attended by some who claimed to be scientists, while others based their conclusions on religion. The claims were all contrary to everything that scientists have proved following a long, historical conflict that was resolved by technology.
Those who cited the conference, considering it to be a reliable reference, are like others who have frequently cited conspiracy theories to demonstrate that the Earth is flat; that man never landed on the Moon; that US space agency NASA is just a propaganda tool invented by the Americans against the Soviets; that the Earth doesn’t rotate; that AIDS is a lie; and that cancer is a laboratory production for commercial purposes.
These are a trivial minority in the West, and the majority of people deal with them just for fun and entertainment, as the projects of space discovery and invasion do not stop.
In today’s material world, science has the upper hand. Science divides the world into winners and losers, the able and the helpless, the donors and the receivers, the militarily powerful and the vulnerable.
A society, no matter how luxurious, as we were during the previous oil wealth, cannot advance without a comprehensive scientific project. And our failure in science is the primary reason for our backwardness, no matter how big our airports, our cities and our streets, highways, and the number of workers whom we bring from around the world. All of these are, unfortunately, imported projects; we have not established a scientific project concerned with the development and teaching of intensive science, but instead focused on securing easy entertainment.
Skeptics and rejecters of scientific progress exist, and will continue to be part of our lives, but they are not an obstacle today as they were until recently, when they were fighting the teaching of science because they feared the effects of science on religion and faith. The real challenge is to spread and develop science and move to being a society that relies on it.
We need to revisit the old curriculum, the concept of education and its role in society. We need more bold steps to focus on the sciences and make them the center of our development project, and to consider advanced global standards as the standard for our progress.
Science divides the world into winners and losers, the able and the helpless, the donors and the receivers, the militarily powerful and the vulnerable.
It is the scientific minds of South Korea that are at the forefront today, as in all major industrialized countries. The crucial difference is in scientific progress, which can shorten the time and meet the aspirations of development plans. Singapore’s success is not only due to a strict government and a modern administrative system, but also because it focused on education, specifically science, mathematics, engineering and technology (STEM). The achievements of that little country are amazing compared to other nations with more potential and natural resources in their geographical and political environment.
We have a great opportunity for change, taking advantage of the positive climate brought about by Vision 2030, and the clear desire to change is not limited only to the upper echelons of the state, but is also for those in the street; and not only in the Gulf but throughout the region.
• Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Twitter: @aalrashed