ICTs, science fiction and disasters: A conversation with Nalaka Gunawardene

I last spoke to Nalaka Gunawardene on public television in February 2009. Nalaka’s varied interests and experience is hard to pin down, but the issues he most often writes on are anchored to science and technology, including information and communications technologies (ICTs). Nalaka blogs and he tweets, which is rare among the guests I have on the programme. He is a regular contributor to Groundviews, a public speaker and frequent commentator on other old and new media fora, including the Sinhala language media.

A lot had happened since we last spoke, from natural disasters (Pakistan floods, Japan earthquake) to the heightened use of social media around the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the Royal Wedding. Also between the time we last spoke, Assange spilt the beans on US diplomacy and more recently, local media created mass hysteria with a botched attempt at covering untested science. All of these are issues Nalaka’s written on.

At the beginning of the interview, Nalaka says he is most interested in how things work and how they can be made better. One of the first questions I ask of Nalaka is to interrogate the imperfect science of early warning, especially regarding sudden onset events like flash floods and tsunamis. He responds as to whether more information in the public domain sooner is better than less, but perhaps more accurate information, less quickly. In this regard, Nalaka spoke about the controversy generated by Professor Atula Senaratne, Associate Professor in Geology at University of Peradeniya, who in coming up with a new theory to ‘predict’ earthquake, caused havoc on a scale that the Disaster Management Centre in Sri Lanka had to take special measures to address. Aside from the technologies for early warning, Nalaka also addresses the challenge of community preparedness in Sri Lanka, particularly in response to a tsunami warning. The point he stresses is that sans any information in the public domain coming from the various exercises to strengthen community preparedness, we do not really know how much better we are today than a few years ago to deal with early warning.

We next talk about ICTs, on which Nalaka’s spoken and written on extensively in online and offline fora. He makes the point that connectivity is increasingly less of a problem in the country, but that content generation and basically what to do when online remains a challenge. We also talk about the growing challenges arising out of a lack of a digital/new media literacy included in traditional syllabi from a young age at school and not just at the tertiary level or in journalism schools.

Finally, we speak about Nalaka’s very long association with Sir Arthur C Clarke, and what Clarke would have thought of the media and world today, pegged to an article Nalaka published on this site. We touch on the Cablegate controversy and the manner in which digital information in the public domain can now be published largely independent of the nature of the political regime that governs one physically. As Nalaka noted in his late-2010 piece titled Living in the Global Glass House: An Open Letter to Sir Arthur C Clarke,

“We need not fear Julian Assange, Mark Zuckerberg or the Google duo — they are merely the ‘midwives’ of the Information Society whose birth cries are now receding into the past. As we discover the enormous powers we have bestowed upon ourselves through ICTs, there is somebody else we need to come to terms with. It’s the man or woman in the mirror.”

  • sl

    I would like t know mr. nalaka ‘s view on global coperte media and it’s harmful effects.

    also it’s a shame that coperate media is the greatest enemy of truth in the world.for example they partial reporting of libyan conflict is a clear attempt to hide truth.

    see http://www.mathaba.net/

  • sl

    regarding my previous comment on “one should definitely investigate who funds the ground views’
    groundviews is funded by ford foundation and it is of course manipulative.
    see http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/PET209A.html

    so all those arguments of groundviews are null and void. also
    GV refers to me as a “priapic patriots” is unfortunate since i am not one of them.

    I am fully against the undemocratic practices of present gov and i have voiced about those in several times.
    i am no fan of rajapakshe but like present gov which labels people as ltte if they don’t hail the gov ideas Gv too labels people as priapic patriots” if they point out the shortcomings of gv.

    • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

      I mean seriously, is that it?! We miss the time, when we started out and after for example we posted the first photos of the hellish conditions in Menik Farm when the ‘patriots’ came out in form. At least then they wrote better and their fiction was more original. Heck, even their insults were better. This is almost staid, definitely stale.

  • sl

    I was making an accusation and not an insult.My intenton was never to insult u.I was pointing out some facts about the manipulatory arms behind these organizations.U should be able to show my accusations are are fictious.just saying fictous doesn’t make a sentence fictious.

    u say that the ‘insuts’ are stale.but even for those ‘insults’ not a reasonable response have been given.

    Campaigining for human rights is of course commendable .but when it turns out that hidden motives are behind that it is just pathetic.

    Despite i stressing the fact that i am not here to voice on behalf of gov ,GV GROUND VIEWS has put me in same comparison to those ‘patriots”.

    anyway i do not expect u to counter my arguments as ‘fighting’ for human rights for some(not u) is for a living.

    http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=21013

    http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=22052

    • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

      “Campaigining for human rights is of course commendable but when it turns out that hidden motives are behind that it is just pathetic.”

      We wholeheartedly agree, which is why Chirasthi Perera’s ‘International Accountability Network’ stands exposed for what it is. As for your own soi-disant accusations, take a ticket and don’t jump the line. And try to substantiate them please? Pointing to the hate and harm of others is just lazy, but not unlike most priapic patriots.

  • TT

    GV,

    I’m a bit disappointed by this name calling business of which you are part of too. Not that it bothers me but because it takes readers’ attention away from the core issue. Many commentators at GV use this when they cannot make their point across. It shows their inadequacy.

    If name calling is the name of the game, I’m sure there will be champions of that.

    Can you say GV was/is actually funded by the Ford Foundation?

    Not that it matters to me. No matter who and how a media outlet, etc. is funded it should have the full right to do what it does (within moral and legal limits).

    During the war SL was variously funded by USA, UK, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, Iran, etc. Some, if not all these countries have a horrendous human rights record. However, that doesn’t spoil SL’s war effort.

    What matters is what you do in return.

    • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

      Other commentators here have ad nauseum, ad infinitum exposed your inability to engage with content in front of your eyes. Whether this is deliberate denial or a congenital conundrum, we do not know, but your question is already answered, both on the site from the get-go, and reiterated in recent commentary.

  • Lakshan

    Nalaka Gunawardena along with Chanuka Wattegema were among pioneering science journalists in this country particularly during the early Vidusara days and both of their views on using ICT for development and other areas have a refreshing originality

    It is commendable if you can also do an interview with Chanuka as well

    • http://movingimages.wordpress.com/ Nalaka Gunawardene

      I’m intrigued by two readers referring to my association with Vidusara, the Sinhala science weekly. Of course, everyone is entitled to his/her own perception, but when I look back at my nearly 25 years of association with media in Sri Lanka, my links with Vidusara were tenuous at best, and largely forgettable at least to me.

      Vidusara was launched in 1988 by Upali Newspapers Limited as an experiment in popular science communication. I was at the time working as a science correspondent for that company’s English daily, The Island, and the managing director asked me to advise and guide the new publication. I welcomed this as I was a bilingual writer (Sinhala and English). However, the founder editor of Vidusara was extremely apprehensive about my association with his project and went out of his way to exclude me. I have never tried to understand or analyse the reasons for this; such insecure and insular mindsets are far too common in Sinhala language journalism, even today.

      All in all, I must have written no more than 10 – 12 Sinhala science articles to Vidusara during its first few months of publication in 1988. When I compare that to the several hundred I’ve published in The Island (1986-1995: none available online) and many dozens for other English language media outlets – print, broadcast and online – over the years, my writing in Vidusara represents only a very small proportion of my combined media output. However, I must have done a few things well in those articles for discerning readers to remember and refer to it more than two decade later. I’m naturally pleased with such reader recollections.

      It also reminds me that we who work in the public space don’t get to choose how we are remembered. Our audiences will form their own impressions, and select their own memories.

  • Nalaka Gunawardene

    I’m bemused by the above debate between sl and GV. It is a necessary one, but I’m not convinced that this is the right place for it. I didn’t say or suggest anything that could trigger it, but hey – that’s part of the public space, where – as I’m fond of saying – the cacophony is better than an artificially achieved symphony.

    I’ll soon respond to sl’s original query about “global coperte media and it’s harmful effects”, citing some of my own past writing available online. Watch this space…

  • yapa

    I think Nalaka Gunawardene is not playing any significant role in today’s science, in Sri Lanka. He came up in as a Science writer in the shadow of Sir Arthur C Clarke, however, not rejecting some of his writing capabilities and also the contribution he made sometimes ago especially through the Vidusara.

    However, his role ceased to exist after Science it-self changed phase to Modern Science which is I think beyond his reach. Arthur C Clarke also was a believer of Deterministic Newtonian Science, and was optimistic of Science would achieve everything for humankind. I can remember once he was telling cutting trees would be compensated with artificial carpets produced by future scientists that breath like trees, breathing in Carbon Dioxide and breathing out Oxygen. That era of “Panacea of Science” has now given up its empty pride and Science now has become an “average person” in the face of the vastness of its scope. That proud Science has become outdated, its ardent advocates friendly to Nalaka, such as Arthur C Clerk are no more and I think such circumstances made Nalaka to train himself in a different field for his life skills. Can’t this be the reason for his emergence and advocating for another moderate cause, that also would invalidated by time like his earlier favourite, Science.

    Thanks!

    • SD

      Dear Yapa,

      “I can remember once he was telling cutting trees would be compensated with artificial carpets produced by future scientists that breath like trees, breathing in Carbon Dioxide and breathing out Oxygen.”

      Look up Craig Venter. These are exciting times! I look forward to Nalaka’s opinion being vindicated. (That is, if the religious fundies don’t try to stifle progress as usual)

      • yapa

        Dear SD;

        Didn’t you notice the adverse side of Arthur C Clarke’s statement? It justified destruction of forests and could have contributed to the acceleration of it, which now has lead to an environmental disaster. Do you think it would be compensated by the discoveries of Venter? On the other hand why make problems and discover ways to compensate? Don”t you think prevention is better than cure?

        Thanks!

      • SD

        Dear Yapa,

        Oh I see. So did Nalaka actually advocate the destruction of forests on the future possibility that a miracle cure would come about? If so, then yes, I agree with your critique. Otherwise, he may have been merely talking about what direction technology might be heading. Nalaka can clarify.

        However – I do agree with you that it’s better to err on the side of caution especially when it comes to environmental matters.

        As for your critique of science – I think you’re missing the point – and I personally see this anti-science ranting as dangerous. When you only have one milk cow, do you propose to shoot it because it gave you only 5 gallons of milk instead of 10? Science is the systematic pursuit of truth. If not for science, what else is going to bring us technological progress?

        Our problem is not having too much science, but having too little of it. The general public is appallingly untrained in the systematic method of thinking that science advocates. Remember, if you want your own panacea of Buddhism to be acceptable to others, it too will have to be on a scientific basis (i.e. systematic, demonstrable benefits, predictability), so get cracking – do more research!

      • BalangodaMan

        SD to Mr Yapa “so get cracking – do more research!”
        Oh give the guy a break! He’s already working on 3 things he undertook to prove to GV readers over the past year. Can’t wait! (1. proof of karma, nirvana, rebirth based on quantum physics. 2. moisture turning into new births and 3. his declared stance on race not being ‘racism’ as commonly defined)

      • yapa

        Hi BalangodaMan:

        Your sole existence depends on me and SD, SD as the sole friend (in the absence of Sujewa)and me as your friendly foe?

        I have something to tell you and SD in response to your posts. Give me a little time.

        Thanks1

      • yapa

        Dear SD;

        “As for your critique of science – I think you’re missing the point – and I personally see this anti-science ranting as dangerous.”

        You think I am anti-science?

        I think you have read only the first part of King Lear. It seems you are impressed with Goneril and Regan rather than Cordelia.

        Thanks!

      • yapa

        Dear SD/Nalaka/BalangodaMan;

        I think your over enthusiasm of Science has broken your balance of vision for the world. I feel many people are over-joyed and over-dosed with “technological advancement”. Sometimes I feel advancement of science as an over-growth of human centric thinking. It might be a beautiful flower bearing mistletoe grown on the tree of co-habitation of species. See the number of flora and fona we send to guillotine of extinction on daily basis to take care of so called science. Is it reasonable to think human welfare is as the sole purpose of the universe?

        I think we are too early to evaluate the spacial and temporal effects of the “Scientific Civilization”. Just as Fukuyama concluded that the present era of Liberal Democracy marked the ultimatum of social development of the world in the light of over-enjoyment of the break down of Soviet Bloc, Science enthusiasts also may become a prey to such pleasurable emotions.

        Many great civilizations in the past fell, but their pioneers did not think even for a moment it would happen, they never fore- saw the mighty harm they inflict upon their future world. Great empires were built on heroic statements of the mighty personalities, but I think more suffered than benefited.

        Science is one another creation of the collective human thinking partial towards the common ambition of the human kind. It does not represent the common good of the other species of life on the earth or the universe. Only a vision developed for the welfare of everything at large would represent the big picture and time we have no notion of the boundaries. Anything other than that would not sustain spacial and temporal test. For that we should refrain from limiting our goals of the vision to human welfare alone, which is only one life forms of universe. I don’t see any special reason for universe to see human kind as a spectacularly different species from other life forms. So if we appoint ourselves to formulate a future plan for all, I think we will have to keep in the common goals in mind, rather than limiting them to selfish goals of human species. I think Science is in need of a “King, you are only the ruler of this country, not the owner” kind of thinking.

        “Sabbe thasanthi dandasa,
        Sabbe bayanthi machchuno,
        Aththanan upaman kathva,
        ……………………”

        Thanks!

    • http://movingimages.wordpress.com/ Nalaka Gunawardene

      @Yapa,

      Thanks for comment – and sorry if I don’t quite come up to your expectations. Despite the tempting provocation, I won’t enter the debate about whose science, east or west. Indeed, science (meaning, simply, organised knowledge) is only one of FOUR areas that I’ve concerned myself with, the other three being: sustainable development, information society, and the role of media in shaping our culture. In all these, I’m only the Asker of Questions.

      Please watch the interview. As I say there, I sometimes feel a strange kinship with the ancient Greeks, who first asked some fundamental questions about the universe. They didn’t always get the answers right, and neither do I. But it’s very important that we question and critique progress – I do so with an open mind, enthusiasm and optimism.

      Asking questions. Connecting the dots. Explaining matters. These actions sum up what I have been doing in the spheres of communication and development for over 20 years. They form the cornerstone in my attempts to make sense of our globalised world and heady times. As a journalist, I was trained to look for what’s New, True and Interesting (‘NTI Test’). Early on, I went beyond just reporting events, and probed the underlying causes and processes. With experience, I can now offer my audiences something more: perspective and seasoned opinion. All these are open to further discussion.

      I may be guilty of many things over the years — but dogma is not one of them! As I say in my self-introductory page of my blog:

      “Since I remain open-minded and eager for new knowledge, my views on some topics and issues keep evolving over time. Although it’s tempting to go back and edit some of my earlier blog posts in the light of new knowledge or understanding, I refrain from doing so. And if that sometimes presents (minor) inconsistencies, I can only quote Walt Whitman in my defence:
      Do I contradict myself?
      Very well then I contradict myself,
      (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”
      Full text at: http://movingimages.wordpress.com/about/

      • yapa

        Dear Nalaka;

        “Indeed, science (meaning, simply, organised knowledge)”

        Really are you going to educate people based on the above definition of Science?

        Does Science in whole contain in the above definition? Also, are you concerned of all organized knowledge in your area of Science?

        I think before all, you need clarity of your definitions, especially in Science. Otherwise you will teach Non Science in the name of Science.

        Really, Science is not just information about Science, that of course any one can provide today. Science is a distinct discipline that needs special training to become an expert in it, though anybody (like SD and BalangodaMan) can become its stake holders and beneficiaries.But here the problem is that all the beneficiaries think that they are experts of Science.

        Thanks!

    • http://movingimages.wordpress.com/ Nalaka Gunawardene

      @Yapa,
      You write: “I can remember once he (Arthur C Clarke) was telling cutting trees would be compensated with artificial carpets produced by future scientists that breath like trees, breathing in Carbon Dioxide and breathing out Oxygen.”
      I don’t claim to know everything the man wrote and said – which ran into several million words in print, all well documented. But I’m curious, because this is not a statement I’m familiar with. Please give the reference – publication, speech or other source. Only then can I comment.

      @SD,
      I’ve never advocated the destruction of forests. However, I have in my published writing and speaking called for a more rational approach to forestry – the technical practice of growing trees (which are a renewable resource) for timber and a mix of other material and environmental benefits. I recognise the tangible, multiple benefits of forests (as more than a collection of trees). However, I don’t believe in romanticising forests or any other part of Nature — I certainly don’t peddle this ‘wounded and abused Mother Earth’ kind of sentimentality. See, for example, my take on the so-called Chief Seattle speech: http://movingimages.wordpress.com/2009/04/22/chief-seattle-speech-global-environmental-legend-or-pervasive-myth/

  • sl

    I have read some articles of mr.nalaka in ‘kalpana’ magazine and dreamed that one day i could become a person with knowledge on various subjects.like him.(although i couldn’t).

    Anyway i have a question “how can the integrity of journalism can be protected”
    ,also i too hold the idea that mr.nalaka haven’t made a lasting contribution for sri lankan media and science.
    thank u very much.

    • http://movingimages.wordpress.com/ Nalaka Gunawardene

      @sl,
      Thanks for comment. Again, I’m sorry not to have lived up to your expectations! But seriously, my last article for Kalpana magazine was written at least 20 years ago, and the world and I have evolved much since! I think some of my Sinhala readers are so stuck in their childhood/youth days of the 1980s and 1990s (just like many Lankan males just can’t let go of their old schools!).

      Yes, there is a very long gap in my career where Sri Lanka is concerned: although I never physically relocated, I withdrew from Lankan media and society for 15 years (1995-2010) and spent that time working elsewhere in Asia where my skill and services were better appreciated. I’m still returning slowly, and my weekly column in Ravaya (page 5 of every issue) is evidence of that. So let’s not harp back to my long-expired output in Vidusara and Kalpana, and instead read my current Sinhala writing in Ravaya. More about it at: http://movingimages.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/new-column-in-ravaya-newspaper-little-boy-asking-big-questions/

      Ravaya still doesn’t have a website, which I hope they will start in this, their 25th year of publication!

      • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

        Dear Nalaka, actually, Ravaya does have a website. The problem however is that the font it uses isn’t Unicode, which means that without the rigmarole of installing the required font, content can’t be viewed. Also because of this, content can’t be searched, and it doesn’t get indexed on Google or any other search engine. Someone should advise them on how to transform this site into one more in tune with current trends.

      • Lakshan

        GV

        thanks for the link of Ravaya site , though the technical limitations are really cumbersome
        Nalaka

        I read Siwmansala Kolugataya ( i don’t know how to translate that) on Ravaya print edition. It is a very interesting column , though I couldn’t recall your take on Chief Seattle Myth being published there ( may be I missed) if not ,good to translate that one as this something repated ad nauseaum in the public speech arena most of the time when ever environmental issues come up .

  • SD

    Dear Nalaka, Lakshan

    Yes Nalaka, I thought you wouldn’t have said anything of the kind.

    About Chief Seattle. Can you clarify how big a problem it’s causing when it comes to a rational response to environmental issues? On balance, do you think it’s causing more harm than good?

    Personally, I see the essay as a work of fiction. Like any good work of fiction, it leaves a lasting impression in the reader’s mind. Chief Seattle’s essay is not for someone like Nalaka – a person who is thinking extensively about this problem. It’s for the average Joe, who might never think about it and it’s for the children – who’ll grow up to think about it.

    While I am in fundamental agreement with Nalaka on having a rational approach to the problem, we should keep in mind that strong emotive messages can have a better effect than reams of scientific data. These same emotive responses are exploited in reverse by say, oil companies in stirring up the so called “global warming controversy” when, at least per the scientific consensus, there is no such controversy.

    That’s why I think that the “wounded and abused mother earth” sentimentality is not a bad message to spread. If people think twice before using a plastic bag, maybe the Great Pacific Garbage Patch might never have come about. If people think driving a gas-guzzler is “uncool” or better yet, despicable, it will hasten the development/adoption of more sustainable energy sources.

    There’s a propaganda war, and it’s probably safer that the tree-huggers win it, than their opponents. In other words, there are quite a few problems today not because of an excess of concern for the environment, but an appalling lack of it.

    All of this has nothing to do with “saving the earth”, an arrogant and silly notion. The earth doesn’t need saving, it will survive, even if only as a desolate rock ruled by cockroaches. What’s at stake is our survival – at least, till such time as we have flown the perch of being earth bound creatures entirely at the mercy of clement earthly conditions.

    We all know that such a thing is not on the cards in the foreseeable future.

    • http://movingimages.wordpress.com/ Nalaka Gunawardene

      @SD,
      About the so-called Chief Seattle speech. If some environmentalists and educators want to peddle a romanticised myth, they are free and welcome to do so. After all, there is nothing wrong in fairy tales and – as I once said in a public talk – they may even have a therapeutic value! But myths can only take us so far.

      Comments I received both online (see:
      http://movingimages.wordpress.com/2009/04/22/chief-seattle-speech-global-environmental-legend-or-pervasive-myth/#comments) and
      and offline since my April 2009 blog post show how widely prevalent the Chief Seattle myth/romanticism is. Question it a little, and the greens snap back angrily as if their scripture has been undermined!

      But they are wrong. I’m not at all ridiculing their beloved guru Chief Seattle, who was the inspiration but not the actual author of the lyrical speech in modern circulation. The much-enhanced and polished version is the work of a movie script writer named Ted Perry, a wordsmith who is still alive. I was simply suggesting that we must acknowledge Ted Perry’s role in popularising the speech, even if he inadvertently inspired a modern myth in that process: credit where it’s due — in this case, both Chief Seattle and Perry.

      But at a deeper level, I share eco-psychology specialist Dr John Scull’s views when he said some years ago: “The world is in an environmental crisis and needs help, but a mythical Indian chief from the last century is not going to ride over the hill and save it from the industrial cavalry in some reversal of the Hollywood western — all of us are going to have to work together to save it ourselves. Recognizing that at least some of the answers lie within mainstream contemporary culture might be a good place to start.”

    • yapa

      Dear SD;

      “While I am in fundamental agreement with Nalaka on having a rational approach to the problem, we should keep in mind that strong emotive messages can have a better effect than reams of scientific data.”

      Aha!, It seems you have by accident realized that rationality is not a sufficient tool even to handle the puzzle at our hands’ length, Eh?

      Ohoma yun! Ohoma Yun!!

  • http://movingimages.wordpress.com/ Nalaka Gunawardene

    We’re having good conversation here and what’s cherished. I respect everyone’s choice to assume an online identity of any kind, or to remain completely anonymous. I can’t help wondering, though, how much nicer it would be if I knew whom I’m engaging. Right now, except when Groundviews editor makes an occasional remark for clarity/context, I have no idea who is talking with me: it’s bit like me being on a public stage, and talking to a number of other players each behind a curtain!

    Ah, well. Each one to him/herself. That’s the web for you. Keep talking!

  • yapa

    Dear Nalaka;

    “Please watch the interview. As I say there, I sometimes feel a strange kinship with the ancient Greeks, who first asked some fundamental questions about the universe. They didn’t always get the answers right, and neither do I. But it’s very important that we question and critique progress – I do so with an open mind, enthusiasm and optimism.”

    Do you really feel you are so obsolete in today’s world of Science? I think your enlightenment in Science has marked its beginning.

    Thanks!

  • http://movingimages.wordpress.com/ Nalaka Gunawardene

    To Yapa and others who occasionally try to engage me (both in GV and in other online/offline forums) on unresolved – and unresolvable – big questions, I have say: thank you, this is a bit interesting but I choose to focus my time and energies elsewhere.

    So, for example, I won’t enter any debates on questions such as: Exactly when during evolution did human consciousness arise? Is Buddhism scientific? Was Einstein right or wrong? Is the Loch Ness monster (or Big Foot, or Yeti, or Santa Claus) for real? All these help fuel a good deal of conversation, but I smile politely and opt out. That’s my choice and prerogative.

  • yapa

    As of many other subjects Science too has lost its objectivity and neutrality today, interpreted, distorted, , politicized and abused for the gains of interested parties that, it is very difficult for one to differentiate Science from Non-Science. For some Science is a feather to wear on their hats, for some it is a cash cow, and for some others it’s a prostitute. I think over the other priorities in Science, to launch a cleaning up programme in Science to save it from unclean hands has become a burning necessity today.
    Science that was moulded, shaped and refined in the hands of the great personalities like Galileo, Newton, Einstein etc…, has fallen into the hands of the petty “scientists” whose objective in Science has come down to the level of national interests. In his book titled published in 2008,“Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s soul”, American cell Biologist Kenneth R Miller, professor of Biology at Brown University argues it is necessary American Scientist to support the religious venture against Darwin’s Theory of Evolution to ensure the maintenance of American supremacy in the world. Here is a paragraph from this “Political” Scientist.
    “For more than a century America has occupied a position of scientific leadership and has gradually come to take it as granted. Although neither war nor economic depression nor political conflict has been able to threaten it I now fear that that is about to change, for something that arisen may indeed signal a change in our national character. That something is most visible in the debate over evolution , but it extends far beyond the teaching of a single subject in the curriculum of a scientific discipline. It reveals a deep and profound split in the American physic, an unease that threatens the way we think of ourselves as a people, the place we hold for science in our lives, and the way in which we will move into the twenty-first century.
    What is at stake, I am convinced, is nothing less than America’s scientific soul.”

    A subject supposed to be universal in nature has become national in the hands of its very guardians’. Salt itself has lost its flavour. What is left there to talk about Nalakas and others?
    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Correcton….

    “It reveals a deep and profound split in the American physic, an unease….”

    It should be “America psyche” in the place of American physic”

    Thanks!

  • sabbe laban

    Yapa

    I think your posting on 16 May @5.22 p.m. is an excellent overview of the present state of science.

    You say: “Many great civilizations in the past fell, but their pioneers did not think even for a moment it would happen, they never fore- saw the mighty harm they inflict upon their future world. Great empires were built on heroic statements of the mighty personalities, but I think more suffered than benefited.”

    That could well be the case here. The Western civilization in currently at war with Islamic extremists and this could bring the Western civilization on its knees, just like what happened to Egyptian, Babilonian, Indus, Roman, Greek, Sri Lankan,South American and many many more civilizations in the past. The rise of another empire, Godless China could deal the West the fatal blow that would land them flat in a few years’ time. Only a handful of the Western countries with mamoth natural resources eg.Canada, would survive this attack.

    This has been the story of “lost civilizations” right from the start of the human history. So, no doubt the USA is concerned about a threat from within-the split on the biblical teachings vs evolution-that you talk about.

    The average man in the West(what I overheard while waiting in a line-up today and many times before!)lives in a world, full of “conspiracies” that their governments are staging behind their backs. For example they would swear that the World Trade Centre building blew up before the plane hit it, and that the Pentagon was attacked by the US itself, the London bombing was done by the British Intelligence, AIDS and cancer are given to the people by their governments, and so on..and that all these are accurately predicted in the Book of Revelations in the Bible!

    To many other religions in the world their holy book or books too have predicted similar accurate predictions!

    This is the sorry state of science among the common people. The technology has ultimately imprisoned people in castles made out of lies and now they are aiming their nukes, which themselves are a product of science at the scientific world!

    The reason is that science is unable to perceive the big picture. Their may be other civilizations in the universe!(it makes the religions a bit uncomfortable, isn’t it? There is no mention of them in our Holy Books, no?) Those beings maybe intelligent as well;yet their intelligence may be at so different a level that we may not understand them at all. In a short story titled “A Martian Odyssey” written in 1930’s by Stanley G. weinbaum, he describes such kind of an intelligence. Maybe science has enabled us to grasp a certain dimension of the universe and we are stuck with it! That may be why the big questions about the universe are not (yet) totally answearable!

    That’s why Nalaka keeps away from such murky waters!

    As for your stanza:

    “Sabbe thasanthi dandasa,
    Sabbe bayanthi machchuno,
    Aththanan upaman kathva,
    ……………………”

    As the island nation Sri Lanka is overflowed by a colourful wave of “Buddhalambana” joy, it’s quite appropriate to walk towards a more universal kind of “science” which doesn’t lead man to destroy his world. You see it in my name:

    “Sabbe Laban”

    • yapa

      Thank you very much for the wonderful feed back. I love everything in there other than “that particular name”. I think it doesn’t deserve you.

      Thanks!

  • http://Correction............ yapa

    Dear BalangodaMan;

    “Oh give the guy a break! He’s already working on 3 things he undertook to prove to GV readers over the past year. Can’t wait! (1. proof of karma, nirvana, rebirth based on quantum physics. 2. moisture turning into new births and 3. his declared stance on race not being ‘racism’ as commonly defined)”

    They are not my undertakings, but your nightmares you fear anybody would do.

    Thanks!