Monday, June 20, 2005

One size fits all?

Dave takes me to task for advocating a "one-size-fits-all" world.

Certainly, science is a "one-size-fits-all" activity. It makes no reference to nationality, ethnicity, religion, politics, race, or gender, and that has been its strength as a generator of reliable knowledge, health, and prosperity. When science moves away from consensus, as in Lysenko's Soviet Union or creationist America, mischief results.

And what if everyone on the planet embraced a scientific world view? Yes, we'd lose some diverse traditions, such as inquisitions, fatwas, witch-hunting, female genital mutilation, book burnings, xenophobia, homophobia, and a host of other abominations founded on superstition. But my experience is that where scientific globalization prevails, the best of local customs flourish. Here on the Dingle Peninsula we see it in crafts, music, architecture, and stonework. Everyone may watch the same movies, drive the same cars, and wear the same sneakers as the rest of the world, but there is no mistaking local pride. When people have the health, leisure and wherewithal to do so, they celebrate their heritage. And other heritages too. In Dingle Town one can now eat Indian, Chinese, Italian and French cuisine, as well as Irish.

So bring on economic and scientific globalization. Three cheers for the internet. A certain amount of "one-size-fits-all" has been good for the world, especially when that "one-size" is a notion of our shared humanity.