Headline Nov 23, 2014/



WE MUST ever and more, re-educate ourselves to know the difference between science  and  ''cargo science''.

This phrase borrowed from anthropology, was introduced by the physicist Richard Feynman during his  1974 commencement address at the   California Institute of Technology.

Scientist Feynman said:

''In the South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the Second World war  -they saw airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now.

So they've arranged to imitate things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas:

He's the controller    -and they wait for the airplanes to land.

They are doing everything right. The form is perfect. But it doesn't work. No airplanes land.

So I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the apparent precepts, and forms of scientific investigation, but they're missing something essential, because the planes don't land.''

We must stop teaching a kind of science in schools which is science only in name but which bypasses its essence:

Evidence and reasoning.

Students experience mathematics as bunch of  cookbook prescriptions, physics and chemistry are mountains of formulae, and experimental science, especially in the developing world, has been totally banished and even banned.

In the developing world in particular, the universities need even need more drastic reforms.

In Pakistan, for example, -desperate to show evidence for improvement, government organisations such as the Higher Education Commission and Pakistan Council for Science and Technology:

Have institutionalised a reward system that has led to armies of  ''cargo PhDs'' with wooden pieces sticking out of their heads    -as well as mountains of cargo publications.

Serious  de-weeding  is needed else else  ''academic fakes''   will crowd out the few genuine academic scientists around.

So how many of the students have ever heard of,   Srinivasa Ramanujan, the child prodigy from Madras who stunned and astonished the world of  higher mathematics-

But tragically died at the age of 32 or

For that matter about the great pakistani scientist and thinker,  Dr Abdul Salam   

So, lights, camera and action, and we swerve towards China:

Student Gao Wenbeng is a member of school debating team in the coastal city of Qingdao. He says he knows there are certain  ''red lines''  he can never cross.

Such as mentioning the massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

But basically, he says in flawless English,............''I feel quite free.''

At one competition at Peking University, in which Mr Gao took part, last May, students debated whether:

*China's rise is good for America or not?*

The debate went on   -back and forth,  with one participant, speaking for America, concluding:

''We are the lighthouse of.................Liberty and democracy...............! 

Why do you think this ideology can't prevail over the Chinese version of communist ideology?''

Right Honourable Students!!

And then, before rounding off, let me just add this letter from a reader, - that I came across:

Sir: There is an answer to the congestion of the deceased in  ''cemeteries''  that you reported on :  Tombstone blues:

Ben Johnson, a Jacobean poet, managed to be  interred  in a grave in Westminster Abbey, a highly desirable final resting place, by being  *buried upright''.

*Standing Room Only, dear students!*
With respectful dedication to the Students of the World. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' !WOW! Your Partner Of Choice '''

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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