A real scientist had something to say Sunday to a social justice student at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa after she claimed in a viral video that all science must be torn down and abolished because it is racist.
The video featured the UCT students in a panel claiming that science is racist because much of it was developed outside of Africa, and therefore it must be abolished and torn down.
“Every now and then you come across one of those videos that makes you want to completely lose faith in mankind,” Dr. Phil Mason, a Cornell University chemist and popular YouTube scientist, said in his response video.”Universities are meant to foster the knowledge of mankind and pass it on to the next generation. And when you’re getting this sort of crap in universities, I mean with that level of stupidity in universities, what sort of future can there be for mankind?”
The students in the original video claimed that science is only valid for Westerners, and is entirely constructed from a European perspective.
“Science as a whole is a product of Western modernity and the whole thing should be scratched off. Especially in Africa,” progressive students in a safe-space at UCT said in the original video. “Decolonizing the science would mean doing away with it entirely and starting all over again to deal with how we respond to the environment and how we understand it.”
Mason pointed out that after the student called for the destruction of all science, she promptly picked up a computer tablet — which could be considered the apex of science — and hypocritically began browsing the internet. He also noted that scientific theories are universal and just as predictive in Africa as anywhere else. The concepts of science are valid no matter where they originate or the color of the scientist’s skin.
“I have a question for all the science people,” the student continued in the original video,” There is a place in KZN [KwaZulu-Nata, South Africa] called Umhlab’uyalingana. They believe that through the magic’ you call it black magic’ they call it witchcraft’ you are able to send lightning to strike someone. Can you explain that scientifically because it’s something that happens?”
The student claimed that witchcraft is equivalent to Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity, as they are both just one way of explaining the world.
“All that predictive useful stuff, you’ve got to get rid of that if you want to study de-colonial science,” Mason said. “Yes, you’re about to be given the pearls of wisdom from someone who thinks, for instance, voodoo, should be considered real science while Newton shouldn’t be. Brace yourselves, this may well induce a nuclear facepalm.”
Several attendees laughed at the student’s comparison, and one off-screen student shouted out “it’s not true!” Then, students in the room verbally attacked the skeptical student for “disrespecting the sacredness of the space,” which was “very problematic.” Ultimately, the students managed to force the skeptic into an apology.
Mason compared the student’s actions to the South African government’s denial of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic which led to the deaths of over 300,000 people in the country.
“You engage in science denial that would kill millions before reaching for a product that is the very apex of the science you want to abolish,” Mason concluded. “I mean, damn, even for a social justice warrior special snowflake, that’s some pretty messed up shit.”
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