Why I’m righting the wrongs of my early research and sharing my scientific data with local communities

Wed, 4 Jan 2023 04:14:11 +1100

Andrew Pam <xanni [at] glasswings.com.au>

Andrew Pam

"“You know what’s wrong with scientific power? It’s a form of inherited wealth.
And you know what assholes congenitally rich people are.” That’s how filmmaker
Michael Crichton put it in Jurassic Park nearly 30 years ago. The problem of
scientific colonialism has not, however, gone away.

Researchers sometimes carry out fieldwork with minimum local engagement,
dropping in and extracting their data like the well-trained crew of a military
Chinook. So-called “helicopter research”, where research teams rarely enable
local collaborators to steer research-design and often fail to involve local
communities or provide local access to data, was a recent topic of debate at a
conference on academic integrity. Scientists and ethicists agreed that field
research falls short when it comes to academics from high-income countries
carrying out field research in places that lack resources.

The colonial footprint of exploration is deeply lodged into the identity of my
own research field, which sits somewhere between the geosciences and
archaeology. Amplified in Hollywood, the scientist in search of exotic
discoveries has captured the public imagination. Neither booby-trapped temples
nor rampaging dinosaurs have featured in my academic life, but the explorer
mentality has been slow to leave the discipline."

       *** Xanni ***
mailto:xanni@xanadu.net               Andrew Pam
http://xanadu.com.au/                 Chief Scientist, Xanadu
https://glasswings.com.au/            Partner, Glass Wings
https://sericyb.com.au/               Manager, Serious Cybernetics

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