Knowledge and power

In 1973 I was training to be a nuclear physicist. Some of my most exciting times were the periods I spent at the Bhabha Atomic Center in Bombay, working as a summer trainee in the experimental fast breeder reactor. But I gave up a career in nuclear physics after my sister Mira, a medical doctor, humbled me. She pointed out that while I was trained in all the minutiae of energy transitions and chain reactions, I was illiterate when it came to nuclear hazards. It was that lesson in humility that precipitated my shift toward sciences that defend life and away from those that annihilate life. It also made me more conscious of the links between knowledge and power, the construction of social irresponsibility built into war- and profit-centered science, and the field’s willful mystification of the public regarding all matters of social consequence, which shuts out democratic control of dangerous technologies.

– Vandana Shiva, “India divided: diversity and democracy under attack”, chapter 1 p. 42-43.

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