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OPINION: THESE PEOPLE DON’T EVEN BUY BREAD HERE!With this categorical sentence, my aunt synthesized San Pedro inhabitants’ general perception about the ALMA project.
I dropped the anecdote ‘at close range’, in the middle of what had been, so far, an awesome and didactic presentation, explaining how important the project was for the Science and Humanity in general. The speaker replied my cunning accusation in the way smart people normally do: with an overwhelming amount of scientifically proved facts, which did not only bury my fallacy definitely, but also made evident that an ordinary citizen like me would never understand the importance of the project.
But there’s a big difference between what things are, and what they seem to be; a difference which becomes particularly hard to tackle when that reality is complex, and the value proposed to the community is built on the scientifically-technologically pedestal. This decoupling between innovation and the community where this will be inserted, has been identified in various diagnoses as an important obstacle in the Chilean political economic development. One of the ways being tried to solve this problem has been ‘bringing science closer to the people’, supporting science communicators, government programmes and different other initiatives which purpose is turning the unknown universe of science, to many people, into a more amusing and understandable world.
This approach has been successful in many ways but has the same focus as the ALMA researcher: He doesn’t gather the message recipients’ perceptions but intends to provide them with the necessary conceptual tools to get rid of them. The proposal is created on a pedestal and given to the people as if it were a revealed truth.
Fortunately, a complementary approach, but different, was adopted to elaborate the Science Technology, Knowledge and Innovation National Policy. ‘Let’s think together’ MINCYT workshops have convened a lot and very different people, each of them contributing with their knowledge, but also with their perceptions. Of course, it’s not about making public policy decisions based on prejudices or false premises, but understanding that a tangible reality experience is part of that same representation, and tackling it is necessary to build an inclusive National Policy, that organizes and articulates a sustainable and comprehensive development for the country, and that effectively contributes to improve the standards of life of its final beneficiaries.


Javier Ramírez

Know Hub Chile Executive Director