Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Means of Doing Science

By JoEllen McBride, PhD

The views expressed in this blog post are not necessarily the views of the CSWA, the AAS, its Board of Trustees, or its membership.

When the U.S. decided to go to the Moon, President John F. Kennedy famously said “We choose to go to the moon and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” But is that why we went to the Moon? It is pretty well known that our arms race with the Soviet Union provided the urgency to send men to the Moon. We considered Air Force pilots for astronauts and the government pumped billions of dollars into creating NASA just to beat the Soviets to the Moon. It’s also safe to say that going to the Moon inspired a whole generation of kids to go into STEM fields and created new technologies that benefited most of us.

But what happens when you only look at the products of science and technology and not how it was accomplished? Is it just as inspiring to know the reasons behind why we went? What if the government had just invested in the space program for the technological innovations that would result and the people it would inspire? Instead, we went to the Moon to prove our military and technological superiority to another country that we were in a nuclear arms race with. A race that made it so children practiced drills in school in the event a nuclear weapon was detonated over their town and the government questioned the loyalty of its own citizens.

Maunakea Sunrise. Credit: USGS

Science is not done in a vacuum. Even Astronomy, whose subjects are untouchable by us and literally live in the vacuum of space, is not immune to the political, societal, and cultural influences of humans. The construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Maunakea is a current example of this, playing out in real-time. There is an on-going protest against its placement on a sacred mountain by indigenous Hawaiians. Knowing the history of the occupation of Hawaii, is the community fine with continuing the status quo? When we look back on all the science we accomplish with the TMT, wherever it ends up being built, will we also acknowledge how it was made possible? Do the ends justify the means?

These are difficult questions and answers will vary. I, personally, do not have immediate answers to them, but the astronomical community must tackle them. If we truly want to create a field that is diverse and inclusive to all humans, we have to look at our past and acknowledge that things were not always done fairly. That we haven’t included all voices. That many people have been and still are silenced, harassed, pushed out, and kept out of science. And, more importantly, that astronomy has benefited from colonization and the oppression of others. We have to not only repair this but find ways to ensure we do our science without harm.

Right now, we live in a world where science acts in the interests of the wealthy and powerful. Advances in science have benefited humankind, but that benefit has too often come at the expense of non-Western societies. Since the ability to do science relies heavily on who is awarding funding, who has access to scientific infrastructure, and the institutions of power that control it all, certain groups of people will always be left out. But we can change that if we take a critical look at how we do (and have done) science, ask the tough questions, and include those marginalized voices in our discussions of the answers.

In order for women (and humans) of all races, ethnicities, gender identities, abilities, and sexualities to feel safe and included in our field, astronomers must look at how we achieve our scientific pursuits and determine if we have the means to do our science free of harm. Our answers to these questions will ultimately define how our science is done and who will be able to do it. The time to do this work is now.

Below are recent articles about the TMT protests listed in order of publication that we did not include in the AASWomen Newsletter. If there are other articles you find that we have missed, please share them in the comments so we can update this list.
**Article updated January 2020 to include new articles written after the 235th American Astronomical Society Meeting.

Controversial mega-telescope set to begin construction in Hawaii
By Alexandra Witze

Maunakea: Redirecting the lens onto the culture of mainstream science
By Aurora Kagawa-Viviani

The fight for Mauna Kea and the future of science
By Sara Segura Kahanamoku

Hundreds of Astronomers Denounce Arrest of Native Hawaiians Protesting Thirty Meter Telescope
By Yessenia Funes

Governor of Hawaii Issues a State of Emergency

Open letter opposing criminalization of Maunakea protectors
By Astrophysics graduate students at TMT affiliated universities

Maunakea Observatories News Release: Observatory technician car denied access to telescopes for critical maintenance

The Fight for Mauna Kea Is a Fight Against Colonial Science
By Keolu Fox and Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Maunakea Observatories: Media Statement by Dr. Andy Adamson, Associate Director, Hawai‘i
Site for Gemini Observatory

Scientists Voice Their Support for Native Hawaiians Protesting the Thirty Meter Telescope
By Maxine Speier

Opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope fight the process, not science
By Rosie Alegado

TMT Moratorium
By Gordon Takaki

Maunakea Observatories: Media Statement by Jessica Dempsey, deputy director, East Asian Observatory

Protesters celebrate governor’s decision to withdraw emergency proclamation for Mauna Kea
By HNN staff

Press Statement from Pu'uhonua o Pu'uhuluhulu

Message from UH President Lassner regarding Maunakea

Mauna Kea Protests Leave Observatory Workers Trapped In The Middle
By Anita Hofschneider

Project has legal right to start, Thirty Meter Telescope official says
By Timothy Hurley

Do Negotiations Offer A Way Forward On Mauna Kea?
By Stewart Yerton

Activists on Mauna Kea say they will evacuate if weather turns perilous
By Kevin Dayton

Bruno Mars joins Jason Momoa and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to voice support for TMT opponents
By Diane S. W. Lee

Statement from the President of the AAS

UH president still supports TMT, but says conflict is greatest challenge he’s faced

Thirty Meter Telescope supporters and opponents rally outside the state Capitol
By Star-Advertiser Staff

The Planned Thirty Meter Telescope On Mauna Kea Raises Ethical Concerns

Tension over TMT continues at a UH Board of Regents meeting
By Nicole Tam

Dozens of TMT opponents stay put as rough weather thins out Mauna Kea camp
By Kevin Dayton

The Future of Maunakea Astronomy
By Doug Simons

WATCH: Conflict on Mauna Kea 'Where it Stands’ mini-documentary
By HNN Staff

Mauna Kea protests seen as generational shift, pivot point
By Kevin Dayton

The following articles can be found in the Dropbox link
Editorial: Time to find compromise
Stonewalling TMT would undermine rule of law
TMT can be important symbol to our community
TMT opponents exemplify leadership in diverse ways
Ige does the Mauna Kea hokey pokey

Claims about TMT’s impact on watershed are just plain false, according to expert, EIS
By Michael Brestovansky

TMT almost 20% done: Despite ongoing protest on Maunakea, work continues around the world
By Michael Brestovansky

Thirty Meter Telescope consortium to seek Canary Islands building permit
By Joseph Wilson

Environmentalists in Canary Islands: We’ll seek legal action to stop TMT from coming here
By HNN Staff

TMT not giving up on Hawaii
By Timothy Hurley

Employees of existing telescopes say they’re ‘collateral damage’ in TMT conflict
By Mahealani Richardson

Local contractors lose revenue during Mauna Kea demonstrations
By Moanike'ala Nabarro

Hokulea Master Navigator Kālepa Baybayan conducted an interview expressing his support for TMT

2 state senators urge TMT to abandon Mauna Kea
By Kevin Dayton

Roy Gal was interviewed on ThinkTech Hawaii about IfA, astronomy in Hawaii, and the TMT

Civil Beat Poll: Strong Support For TMT But Little Love For Ige
By Chad Blair

VIDEO: Mauna Kea Observatory’s New Instrument Stuck In Hilo
By Big Island Video News

Letters to the editor in various papers regarding Maunakea and TMT

Astronomers to deploy breakthrough technology at UH telescope

VIDEO: Mauna Kea Observatory’s New Instrument Stuck In Hilo
By Big Island Video News

Frustration mounts for Mauna Kea telescopes By Timothy Hurley

More complete numbers coming for TMT-related costs
By Michael Brestovansky

Astronomy Faces A Field-Defining Choice In Choosing The Next Steps For The TMT
By Ethan Seigel

Maunakea and the Need to Indigenize Astronomy
By Hilding Neilson

Amid protest, Hawaii astronomers lose observation time
By Audrey McAvoy

A Native Hawaiian-led summary of the current impact of constructing the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea
By Sara Kahanamoku, Rosie 'Anolani Alegado, Aurora Kagawa-Viviani, Katie Leimomi Kamelamela, Brittany Kamai, Lucianne M Walkowicz, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Mithi Alexa de los Reyes, Hilding Neilson

Reframing astronomical research through an anticolonial lens -- for TMT and beyond
By Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Lucianne M. Walkowicz, Sarah Tuttle, Brian Nord, Hilding R. Neilson

New front emerges in battle to build giant telescope in Hawaii
By Daniel Clery

Controversy over giant telescope roils astronomy conference in Hawaii
By Meghan Bartels

Astronomers May Not Like It but Astronomy and Colonialism Have a Shared History
By Nithyanand Rao

The Thirty Meter Telescope: How a volcano in Hawaii became a battleground for astronomy
By Meghan Bartels

Other reading:
Decolonizing science reading list
Kitt Peak
EnVision Maunakea

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Should science also include the voice of those who are anti-science?