The Art of Resistance: Defending Academic Freedom

Education, as we have now, was created in the industrial revolution time, therefore right now it is not really working. Even a little bit over a decade ago, if you wanted more information to complete your homework assignment you would probably go to the nearest library to read up on the topic. Now we have the internet which is an endless sea of information. However to access a huge chunk of that information, you will have to pay money (so called “paywalls”), even if it is public funded research. You will have to pay to see federal court records if you want to check documents. Barely anything is free these days. There are loads of information and documents which can’t be accessed even if you pay – they are just hidden from the public completely. Some people are way too interested to see what the government is hiding from us though, that’s how events like Wikileaks happen.

Jack Andraka, a teen prodigy, accessed a paywalled journal site to read up about pancreatic cancer. After thorough research on readily available sources, he saw that the rates of death related to pancreatic cancer were mainly due to the lack of technology to detect the cancer early. So he went on to break into other sites to see if he could find any useful information on how to solve this problem – and he did! He claims to have invented an early stage pancreatic cancer detection sensor. You can read more about it here, because I want to talk more about the accessing of the secret information.

Is it okay to hide certain information, research and documents from the public? I personally think that “hiding” such things from the public eye is making the general population less educated about important things, but also making the government more corrupt as we can not see what sorts of transactions are happening out of our sight. For the education bit, people who are unable to access certain information or are asked to pay for it, are far less likely to actually try and get to it; they will instead go looking for other sources, often leading to misinformation. Probably the best example for this would be people looking for information on how to deal with a certain illness (i.e. cancer) and unable to access actual approved documents online for any reason, so they go looking for other stuff that could possibly help them deal with the illness and they stumble upon an unlicensed doctor’s website, where this man is claiming that eating nothing but, lets say, rock shavings, will help you cure the disease. Will the person think “this is all lies and he just wants my money for the magical treatment?” or try and access the paid information again? Sadly, it is usually the former. Ironically though, people will also pay to get “secret” information on unlicensed health websites to get the 30 Day Diet Plan To Remove All Of Your Excess Fat If You Eat Only This One Thing type of thing.

For the shady business in politics etc, it is much the same – they don’t want us to know what they are up to, how much money they are spending on what and when, so when those documents get published, the whole world is in shock for a while. I personally think most, if not all, information should be freely accessible for everyone, and the misinformation spread by quack doctors and fake dietologists etc should be moderated heavily in interest of the general population. People should not be going  to prison for trying to educate themselves on various subjects and “illegally” accessing secret information. If scientific research is hidden from the public, we probably won’t get too far in science progression too soon – you never know, there might be a young person somewhere that has a huge interest in curing cancer completely, and they could come up with the cure in a month, if only they had access to the information they have to pay for.

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