Happy Globe

69. BUDDHA: Less is more

Source: http://zenpencils.com/comic/69-buddha-less-is-more/

Knowledge = Power (1)
Knowledge = (2)
Power = (3)

Let me open my case by presenting you some basic arithmetic derivation. Sir Francis Bacon famous aphorism “knowledge is power” produces equation (1) whereby Albert Einstein’s quote on “More the knowledge lesser the Ego, lesser the knowledge, more the Ego” equates (2). So, substituting algebraic equation (1) in equation (2) yields equation (3), fairly simple mathematics. “More the power lesser the Ego, lesser the power, more the Ego”, how true does this statement holds?

The world map above clearly shows the heavy distribution of scientific research, or publication of results, in richer territories which is concentrated on the global north. This locational bias is such that roughly three times more scientific papers per person living there are published in Western Europe, North America, and Japan, than in any other region. I’m deeply triggered by this map and somehow feel rather ashamed and overwhelmed by a deep sense of humiliation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m trying to spark off a race on which country hoards the most scientific papers winner earns a prize for that. NO, but I’m resentful on such indicators which is terribly shattering the confidence of the people from the developing countries to develop further. I argue that even education in the form of research and development is not serving as a stepping stone for local empowerment in most developing countries. More often than not, people’s well-being, be it poverty, the livelihood, even the level of civilization is measured by scientists trained and educated from the Western society. They impose biased judgments and values based purely on their understanding and interpretation of the researched society.

It’s not enough to have science which enriches knowledge but what more important is to understand the science and the arguments. Arguments are sets of sentences, statements and propositions. We can all agree that they are all made out of language. So, if we understand language better, we can understand humans and arguments better. Even Helen Keller who wasn’t able to see and hear gained her ability to use language and was able to communicate and transfer her ideas to people.

The illustration of this language diversity of the world can be seen from this chart complied by the Economist:

Economist reports that linguistic rivalry and relative poverty deter the emergence of a single language as occur in Nigeria and India, therefore scoring a high diversity index. Secondly, geography factor contributes to high language diversity. Countries consist of scattered islands like Indonesia and the Philippines shelter small languages. Two main factors combine leave Congo and Papua New Guinea the most linguistically diverse countries in the world. Therefore, is it a fair verdict that the lesser the power, the more Ego people possess to obstruct any form of intrusion? Or the more the power, the MORE Ego people tend to have to dominate the inferiors and vulnerable?

Language can be seen as one of the greatest barrier in the scientific communication and publishing field. Poor translation and misinterpretation as well as weak institutional guidelines and policy hinder the development both in soft and hard sciences. Many developing countries hence are isolated from the mainstream international science community. For instance, in China only a tiny fraction of 6,5964 scientific journals are abstracted in English and indexed in Scientific Citation Index Expanded (SCIE). On top of that, only 3 percent which is 495 of more than 15,000 scientific periodicals among the ‘BRIC’ countries is listed on the Scientific Citation Index Expanded (SCIE). The proliferation of the “hidden” science sources in native languages raises question about quality as they are not up to the standard of a global comparative study. The scientific society claims that lack of high quality standard assessment prevents the presentation and publication quality data. Yet, in order to overcome red tape and gain recognition from a renowned and accepted academia society is a hurdle for many developing countries’ scientists. As a result, due to lack of funds, resources and network, many undiscovered scientific outputs and potential seeds of breakthrough are swept under the rug. The excuse of governments and scientific society often lies at the core of complexity and transparency of the matter. When this access of academia outputs from the global south remains invisible to the scientific society the global level, it can only hinder growth and makes all global science poorer. Solely depending on the more influential northern society will only impede the knowledge dissemination as they can easily take this matter for granted.

In most general cases, it is reasonable to conclude that through acquired knowledge, power is gained or earned, either by means of invention, affluence, discovery, invention or innovation. When the developing nations are denied the least access to this knowledge transfer and communication, we’re destined to be marginalized and exploited in many ways. This simple anomaly projects not only the entire system of how we view the world but also the co-existence of white supremacy which continue to linger today. There’s a substantial effort made to revive and renew Area Studies by rendering globalization not in a US-perspective, but in perspectives coming from different regions of the world, “Global in reach, local in perspective”. This modification of Area Studies tends to promotes global agenda but national/local perspective. As Globalization is connecting our world closer, we are also viewing and defining our world through an americentrism-tinted glass.