Wed 28 Apr 2021 9:49PM

How does science support colonial ideas?

D Danny Public Seen by 21

Why does this thread exist?


In the process of creating our first Mission Vision and Values document there was a lot of discussion. There was one particular digression that prompted me to extract it from the thread and instead put it here for further discussion.

It's not that the digression/conflict shouldn't happen in BwoB spaces. It's that it did not seem to advance any valid Objection to the Mission Vision Values. You will see I left some comments on that thread because indeed there could be something to gained from discussing Chirag's comments further, but I think it will need edits and further discussion. That thread is closed now but could be reopened if there is interest among members

The discussion was moved from the Mission Vision Values thread after a comment during the Objection Phase by Chirag which is repeated here for clarity. We did not make this change on the document:

Scientists could be replaced with science driven humans or even humans who think to be more inclusive and less inspired by colonialism


This is an example of a discussion that occurred very early in our time using Loomio and it provides an view into the thoughts of some community members as well as how a record of conflict can elicit useful ideas and may be useful to review in retrospect. In my view the discussion could have been improved in two main ways:

  • incorporated more views by a cleverly authored poll

  • a kinder tone allowing more time for personal reflection and responses

I am careful not to punish based on emotional reactions that we all have the capacity to feel. Instead, I advocate for some care in responses, and a recognition from all communicating parties that while we may elicit unpleasant emotions in each other, we should strive to not intentionally seek this type of response. Of course I will take action on any formal grievance that violates our code of conduct.

A generative perspective was communicated in the last comment before discussion petered out in July 2021 which (to my reading) provides advice on how to strategically position public communications as to not alienate folks with explicitly political discussion.

I still think it's useful to have a space where people can see this history and if interested engage in this type of discussion. But I will note that nobody has viewed the thread since it went silent so interest (or capacity for engaging with this) is low.

What should be posted in this thread?

This thread is to continue the discussion about science and colonialism. One can ask their questions here if they are curious as to what folks think of some scientific advances or BwoB policy through the lens of political philosophy and/or sociology. The FreeRads group and their website is a great resource for information around this type of thought. In particular I find this comic a nice introduction to some of the concepts that might be up for discussion here.


Yuriy Fazylov Sun 18 Apr 2021 7:32PM

😂 Let's split hairs down to atoms. “'Scientists' could be replaced with 'science driven humans' or even 'humans who think to be more inclusive and less inspired by colonialism'”

Humans? You know any other species for whom these outlines may not be written? In which case, why so speciest?

Humans as opposed to any other intelligent beings able to pick up a tool and perform scientific reasoning. Let's see. Pandemic? check. What sci-fi plot are we living in today? When did generalist term of “people” get disgusting? Being AI friendly? or waiting for ET to crawl out of the screen? “Science enthusiasts” maybe?

"Community" and "citizen scientists" are already nonconformist science terms. If you are going to add an image, add how sub categories of DIY and DIT scientists fit into super categories.

What colonialism? How exactly did colonialism inflict its pain on anyone alive today? Even when fighting the old you are still defining your fight with respect to it. How about you drop your inspiration and earn respect regardless of that crusade?

If there are codes of conduct on this forum, I haven't gotten any notifications about them.


Danny Sat 3 Jul 2021 2:22PM

Sorry this is so late. It occurs to me that you might not have seen the codes of conduct although I did comment here that they are posted to the group settings. I am adding them to this comment for good measure as well.


Deleted account Sun 18 Apr 2021 7:56PM

If you need these answers I can share them privately with you. From your response and where your view is on the matter a response here will not be of much value. If it is any food for thought, we have 8B people many of whom are scientists. New ideas could usher a golden age by elevating our enterprises to be more cooperative and reduce suffering by creating solutions instead of profit.


Yuriy Fazylov Sun 18 Apr 2021 8:50PM

“I can” doesn’t mean that I will. We could also redefine the dictionary in its entirety and have left mean the opposite just to stand for anti colonialism. Judging from the lack of any message, including private, no answer?


Deleted account Sun 18 Apr 2021 9:02PM

The biological context of colonialism as it impacts BwB today is that because the groups that perform science are so insular there is a lack of cohesion with other segments of society which is hurting everyone. This based on frameworks that were established and are cultivated for colony forming stability. We are no longer a CFU and have to continue the process of growing more cohesive (the garden of humanity).


Deleted account Sun 18 Apr 2021 9:23PM

I responded directly since you mentioned no response. Happy to discuss more but its my opinion only.



Yuriy Fazylov Mon 19 Apr 2021 1:15AM

Why so pessimistic? Why doesn’t your Food for thought satiate? Why did we go to biological context of colonialism? How does colonialism equate to colony forming units? How does it relate to 8 billion people? I am so confused. Why use “insular”? Putting science with wrong think? Who is hurting? The thing about colonialism is that it brought best parts of the world and strung them together. Hence the melting pot and diversity being the spice of life. Or are is the academic narrative moving past that now?


Deleted account Mon 19 Apr 2021 1:45AM

I am hopeful; depends on your appetite; everything is biology: 8B means something new is welcome; scientists are insular; wrong think?; the cattle are hurting; good point on brining the best profits of the world together.


Danny Mon 19 Apr 2021 5:23AM

Dropped two reactions:

  1. The heart because I think similarly. There might be a space for insular science but that's not what I want to build at BwoB

  2. The thumb's down because you missed Chirag's definition of CFU. Please take more time to understand the viewpoint of another before pushing for more answers to other topics. It will help keep these conversations more concise and directed. Please ensure you are making a good faith effort to understand when engaging another; bad faith lines of questioning are unacceptable to me. Question asked quickly in ignorance may sometimes lead to a interesting idea but the environment it creates is not something I am interested in cultivating.


Yuriy Fazylov Mon 19 Apr 2021 9:29AM

You are only as hopeful as those 8 billion people for whom you wait great surprises. An avalanche of people is also new but rarely welcome. For example genspace, in new place, was always bogged down with classes or community projects during which little of anything else could get done. I embrace "the more people there are, the less oxygen," concept.

@Danny We have a google doc for viewing, copying, and commenting. To declutter on prior draft, we moved to this site. We are moving to another site now to keep this place neat. Call me complacent, I wasn’t a fan of site hopping in Open Plant days. but I don’t feel like site hopping now either. A lot is lost in loss of context and confusion of what was left on each site.

You are right @Danny. I should have asked @chirag raval what CFU is. In my experience CFU is how I defined it. So @chirag raval, what is CFU and insular as you meant it?

@Danny, what do you mean by brake up lines?

@chirag raval I've spent some time with scientists a couple of weeks ago. It takes time for scientists to come up with a concept, fool proof it -design, build, test the ideas. From what I remembered about you, you are a bio-entrepreneur yourself. Not everyone is working on repurposing the old for new causes. Can you really blame others for being insular for wanting a payout or recognition? or not wanting to get scooped while they are still working on it? We are living in a materialistic world. No one canceled that yet.

I was trying to be constructive by simply asking two questions. Someone seems to have lost the point of my original questions and I went along appeasing their trolling. Why the use of “humans?” and what does “colonialism” have anything to do with BwoB, that document or, now that we spiraled out of control into 8 billion people at large, science in general? I can understand if English is not a first language. It’s the meandering way that that someone brought me to their own defeat is the thing that got me even more confused (still unsure of this). If you mean to plug something into the document, you should be able to be defending that argument in public, not just in private. This is a public organization after all. Again I ask, Humans as opposed to what? What parts of colonialism do you mean and you would like to retroactively downplay?

tisk tisk tisk - want to edit that yet? Sheep are herding together, not hurting.

I checked under the bell (I think notifications), still no notification about codes of conduct, @Danny

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