“The struggle for science today is a political struggle”
Protests in Moscow do not cease. What makes successful people to come again and again? Interview
On August 10 the opposition in Moscow is planning another protest action because of the refusal to register is not dependent on the city hall candidates in Moscow. The government has shown that it is not going to give up under the pressure of the rallies, how crowded they were. On the contrary, every day brings news about administrative cases, searches and arrests against the protesters. One of them — the employee of scientific research Institute of physicochemical biology behalf Belozersky MSU, science educator, author of “the Origin of life. From nebula to cell” Michael Nikitin. He was a participant on July 27, he was arrested, and a photograph of the scientist with a distorted pain face have been published by many foreign media. What makes a successful scholar and accomplished writer to come out to protest? Why between the government and the scientific community, there is a contradiction? About it Znak.com we talked with Mikhail Nikitin.
“The explosion is only a matter of time”
— You continue to participate in the protests?
— Yes, continue. For me the reason to go was the non-recognition signatures of several colleagues for their candidates and, most importantly, the reaction of the electoral commissions. When testing many thousands of signatures, obviously, errors are inevitable. And when the signatories were outraged when verifying signatures, they are not found in the databases of the immigration service, what could be more reasonable than to recheck again? But the commissions refused to acknowledge even the possibility of their error. I can’t stand when someone thinks they have a perfect and infallible and does not believe that could be wrong. This is very bad behavior at any scale, from family to state. And very common at different levels of the Russian government.
— Than still you are not satisfied with the mode of the current Russian government?
— Answer as an engineer: it overrides the feedback. Steam boilers have a safety valve that allows you to relieve excess pressure and prevent explosion. A similar role society plays in public policy and free elections. They provide an opportunity to voice discontent were heard and they would not need to resort to violence and terrorism. For example, we’ve all seen in America, disgruntled voters put in the White House trump. He is a stranger and for the democratic and Republican parties, and all reporters USA hate him bitterly. Around trump thundering scandals, but we don’t hear anything about mass arrests of its opponents, nor the collapse of the US — only on adjustment of decisions of Obama, which particularly angered the Americans.
The Russian top leadership since at least 2012 is behaving like a mad the head of the boiler, which boils relief valves and ordered the firemen to turn up the heat. In this situation, the explosion is only a matter of time.
— What political forces you sympathize with and why?
— I pretty politicians very little, all of them at the regional level and, unfortunately, not been chosen in my region — for example, the mayor of Petrozavodsk Galina Shirshina. I went to the rallies this summer, not because I am very sympathetic to the unregistered candidates, but because I was the outrageous actions of election commissions and the important principles for the peaceful transfer of power and fair competition.
— Scientist in the ranks of the opposition is, I think, a rare type. I spoke with your colleague newspope Alexander by Peninim, and he answered questions about power and politics vaguely. You openly opposed the government and even suffered for their position. Tell me, what is happening among scientists? They remain out of politics, or people like you, in the future may be more?
— Why rare? And in our country, and many other scientists are more inclined to opposition views than citizens on average. I’ve asked American colleagues about trump, the responses were mostly obscene. Discerned — the opposition organization? In my opinion, Yes. Among my acquaintances, the Russian scientists always dominated by liberal sentiments, just before 2011, they are not consistent with the policies of senior management. After 2011 all of these scientists are not changing their beliefs, was the opposition, and many actively participated in the protests. The spirit of opposition among scientists can be poorly visible from the outside, because many scientists are convinced that it is necessary to do what you are best able, in his place, and not on the street. But in the last year of that belief disappears.
— Is there pressure on you from the leadership of the Institute in connection with your position and participation in the protests? As it happens in case if in the hands of the police fall into the pupils and students.
— We have at MSU about pressure management for employees participating in rallies, I do not know. At MSU the strong position of the trade Union “University solidarity”, many of whose members went to meetings on 20 and 27 July, and I don’t expect any problems from the management.
— Shows the power that determined and is not going to make concessions. Hence the question: are you sure that the output on unauthorized rallies can move a situation forward?
— Meetings by themselves — probably not. A combination of meetings with the writing collective letters, complaints to election commissions and riot police in the Investigation Committee, the Investigation Committee of the Prosecutor’s office protest vote in September, I think, has a good chance to change the situation.
We speak on the eve of protests on August 10. What do you expect from this action?
I expect some tightening. It seems to me that the voltage will not decrease at least until the elections in September.
“The state is the main source of chaos”
— How does the policy of the ruling group on the situation of science?
Policy of the ruling group affect the science as well as in many other areas of life: the state is the main source of chaos and uncertainty. It’s changing rules and regulations almost every year. Many of his units are very slow and inefficient. Specifically, biologists are very much hampered by custom, which can several months to rot in a warehouse of imported reagents. The reform of the Academy of Sciences and the creation of FANO caused three years of chaos in science funding. Great bureaucratic burden: writing reports is very time consuming. Although schools and clinics, this is even worse than in the institutions.
— What you need to do with regard to power science how to build relationships with the scientific community?
— As with any other professional community, to begin to listen to him. And before to do something (for example, to change the laws and rules), is to ask the community and listen to the answers. These simple and banal things is not enough power in the relationship with the scientific community and with other communities.
— Say you got in the government or the administration of the President of some influential position. What will you do to change policy in relation to science?
— First of all I’ll reduce the bureaucratic burden on scientists. So they spend their time in experiments and articles, not reports.
— How do you feel about the fact that in may this year, the new membership of the HAC was not included co-founder of “Discerneth” Michael Gelfand? This is a special case or manifestation of some laws related to the political situation in the country?
— This pattern. As I said, all parts of the authorities are now trying to hide from feedback. And Discerned as a whole, and Michael Gelfand have personally put a lot of unpleasant feedback to members of the Vaca related to the production of false theses, and, of course, they tried to avoid.
— Today, the President and the government originates the idea of combining science and some spiritual braces as a common basis for the development of Russian society. Hence the claims from many of the priests, between science and religion is no contradiction. How productive this idea and what are its implications for Russian science?
— In this question you are, in my opinion, mixed a few very different things. “Spiritual ties” have about nothing to do with the gospel. The theme of the conflict between science and religion is very big, and I can speak on it a very long time. Now I cast aside the sneakers some colleagues-educators, but I believe that these contradictions are greatly exaggerated. First, what religion you mean? Buddhism and Christianity have very little in common, including in relation to science. Christianity, too, is different: Catholics have the Pope’s decision that Darwin’s theory correctly interprets the origin of the human body. Medieval Catholic scholasticism was very much needed for the subsequent development of science, for example, disputes about the number of angels on the end of the needle helped bring order to the notions of infinitely small values, from which then developed differential calculus — the basis of physics since Newton. There are enough scientists, even in evolutionary biology, who were believers, and they do not stop to advance science. For example, Theodosius Dobzhansky (one of the founders of the synthetic theory of evolution in the 1970s) was both a priest of the ROCOR in America, and has published theological articles.
Now with science conflict especially American Protestants, is that they have created “intelligent design” (intelligent design) — a scientific attempt to prove the divine creation of the world, life and man. In Russia there were some attempts of religious organizations to intervene in science, for example, the process of Masha Schreiber, but they are on the category clown, and not the system pressure on science.
Much more relevant in Russia, the intervention of the Church in the dependent science of the application area, for example in medicine. For example, the AIDS epidemic in many countries from Europe to South Africa failed to suppress sexual education for adolescents, and we have under the pressure of the Church were closed, such projects successfully launched in the zero years, as a result, Russia now ranks first in the world in number of new HIV infections.
For examples of the contradictions of religion, in particular Orthodoxy, and science not far to seek. Recently Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov all struck by the depth of their thoughts and dreams. It turns out that he communicated with Charles Darwin in a dream and he admitted that the theory of evolution is fake. This is also the clown or the clash of two worldviews: the scientific and the mystical?
Is clowning. Archpriest openly announced that it was engaged in spiritualism, that the Orthodox priest is unacceptable.
Evgeny Odinokov / RIA Novosti
“The scientific community is linked with the opposition”
— Is it possible to say that between the ruling group and the scientific community is maturing ideological antagonism? Some show themselves true Orthodox believers (Putin recently advised the children to read the Bible, Torah and Quran), and, therefore, believe that the Earth is six thousand years old and God created man from the dust, while others only believe in scientific data. Or hate each other, as long as the power does not climb into the Affairs of science and Vice versa?
— You never know who is reading. I have read the Bible and the Koran, and Daniil Andreyev, and with Gurdjieff, Castaneda, and at quite a young age, that doesn’t make me neither a believer nor a mystic. All educated Europeans until the last century read the Bible, however many of them become scientists and atheists. I think you’re too straight to understand the impact of reading on people’s beliefs. I’ve heard testimonies from people who are inclined to trust that half of the Moscow Patriarchate in his youth he Hippophae, ate grass and more serious money, not listening to Christian music and was fond of all sorts of exotic religions. And looking at them now and say!
In Christian theology there is a long and venerable tradition of allegorical and not literal interpretation of the book of Creation, that is, not all Christians literally believe that the age of the Earth is 6 thousand years old.
The ideological antagonism between the ruling group and the scientific community is, but very different views on joint activity of people. The ruling group considered that any collective activity organized by someone. So they are looking for the organizers of the protest rallies, put them under arrest, when the rally continues — looking for “the real thing” deeply conspiratorial organizers associated naturally with the CIA and the world behind the scenes. Many detainees at the rallies said that the police Department asked them how much they paid for the rally. And I couldn’t believe that people went for free.
Scientists mostly are able to associate with strangers until colleagues together to do research, impossibly alone. This works not only in science. I was not just a witness, but a participant in a voluntary self-organizing without external control and funding for a variety of reasons: the suppression of forest fires in 2010, planting a forest that burnt down in later years, holding summer schools for pupils interested in the zero years. The scientific community in this is linked with the opposition.
— A support for theology as an academic science on the part of the Minister of education Vasilyeva you do not mind? It is not a manifestation of the antagonism of the scientific and mystical worldviews?
I repeat: there is no ideological antagonism between “religious government officials — rational scientists”. Our senior management are people of the 1950s year of birth, who studied in the Soviet school, joined the pioneers, the Komsomol and party. They were nowhere to take the example of religion — the old regime religious people generally did not survive the repression and war. Their worldview is not religious, and endlessly cynical. They will with equal zeal to build itself from the ardent Communists, the true Orthodox or natural-born shamans, if this is necessary for the preservation and increment their power.
Olga Vasilieva — Dr. of historical Sciences, specialist in the history of Church-state relations, and theology specifically, it looks to me as clear for any scientist trying to raise the profile of her, familiar and beloved branch of science, not as the onset of obscurantism.
— Our officials from the top leadership known for their pseudo-scientific statements. For example, about the “extra chromosome” and “powerful cultural genetic code”. There was even a public reflections from the President on the dangers of genetic engineering. Do you see any threat to science that people with such views are at the head of the state?
The main danger is not in what they have ideas about genetic engineering. Much worse is that such nonsense they think other, more pressing issues and begin to deal with imaginary dangers in the Internet in the elections and so on.
— To summarize, do not you think that today the struggle for a science becomes political?
— Yes, the struggle for science today is political struggle. Specifically in my evolutionary biology it is imperceptible, but in sociology, political science, history — obviously. Suddenly politicized mathematics, which is used to search for election fraud (posters with the schedule of the Gaussian distribution at meetings 2011-2012). To biologists, the policy comes, for example, how decisions about cuts in the territories of nature reserves and reducing their protection status to “respectable people” could erect a cottage. Or as the ban on the export of human DNA, not to allow the Americans to make biological weapons, selectively killing the Russian. Give the spoiler: such a weapon is impossible, there is no unique genes that distinguish Russians from poles or Germans. Or how absolutely delusional the case of Olga Zelenina, an employee of the Penza research Institute of agriculture. First, the drug Agency asked her to make an examination of the seized pastry of poppy for drug production from him, and when she wrote a negative opinion — then she was accused of smuggling and selling drugs.
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