Using open knowledge to avoid a new Holy Inquisition

Using open knowledge
The pyramids of Egypt are a marvel of architecture, engineering, and planning. Building with the technology and knowledge of the time such buildings that still survive is a feat that is very difficult to repeat. And, one cannot help but wonder why the Egyptian taxpayers didn't kick their rulers out when they decided to waste their resources on something so useless.

The answer is that the pharaohs knew something that no one else knew. And on that depended the survival of its inhabitants.

The origin of Egyptian wealth was agriculture, and agriculture depended on the Nile River. The Nile periodically flooded the banks of the country, and as from its tributaries it carried chemical compounds and plant waste, it left the land fertile and ready for cultivation. The pharaoh was the only one capable of determining when and how far the flood was going to occur.

Pharaoh's secret was that a day before the river rose, the star Sirius was visible in the sky. For more information, this appearance occurred every 365 days. Determining the height was a matter of making a prediction based on the heights reached in previous years.

It would have been enough for someone to take the trouble to look at the sky, or to keep a registration form so that the usefulness of the pharaoh would have been diminished.

Along the history, restricting access to knowledge was a way of maintaining power. Those who spread it without authorization were punished. It is no coincidence that one of our oldest myths is that of Prometheus, punished for stealing fire from the gods to give it to human beings. Those who, like Galileo, learned something that defied authorized knowledge, were imprisoned and tortured.

The current COVID-19 pandemic brought us back to those dark times. As Winston Churchill might well say, his first victim was the truth.

Depending on the political ideology of each one, a certain sanitary measure is supported or Death numbers are cheerfully compared without taking into account other numbers such as population size, availability of toilet facilities, ages, and other relevant factors.

And of course, we cannot forget the experts. Those university professionals who have dedicated their entire lives to a discipline and do not allow anyone outside their specialty to discuss their recommendations. Even if those other people have the same experience in other disciplines that are also relevant. Or, even if reality shows that these recommendations are not correct.
And, as was the case with theologians (and probably the pharaohs) have volunteer collaborators willing to side with authority (just because it's the authority) in this case, they take the form of journalists and users of social networks willing to discipline those who think differently with a zeal that Torquemada himself would envy.

Using open source to form our own opinions.

If we can take a lesson from the current pandemic, it is that both political and scientific elites, regardless of their ideology, are using it as a way to concentrate power. I'm not talking about conspiracy theories. The disease exists. I'm talking about human nature to take advantage of what gives us advantages over others. In this case fear.

Y, the only way to combat fear is not to let them have a monopoly on knowledge.

Of course, I am not saying that a housewife or truck driver can weigh in on medical matters. What they can do is determine if the measures implemented by the authorities (following the recommendation of the experts) were effective. in relation to its consequences and compared to those of other countries.

The exact translation of open source es open resourcess. And this does not only refer to the software code, also to the data. And, data such as the number of people infected and killed by COVID are public. The same with the mortality rates of previous years and other relevant statistical information.

On the web there are many manuals of Applied Statistics that are very easy to understand, whiles free software provides us with excellent tools to analyze information.

Some tools to consider

  • GNU Octave: Programming language for creating statistical graphs
  • Jamovi: Statistical software based on the programming language R. It has an interface and a mode of use similar to that of spreadsheets.
  • RStudio: Integrated development environment for the statistical language R.
  • JASP: Statistical software great for beginners.
  • Gretl: Other program ideal for beginners, also based on R and with the ability to share information with GNU Octave and spreadsheets.
  • Explorer: Ideal To analyze a small amount of data, this program has excellent documentation in the form of video tutorials. Just drag a data file in a supported format to start using it.

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  1.   anonymous said

    For those who want to delve more into the reality of what happened and is happening ...

    MÉDICOS POR LA TRDAD SPAIN ★ «Press Conference»
    25 Jul. 2020

  2.   Camilo Bernal said

    This is one of the best articles I have read here. And it is not only about Linux and Free Software: Poverty, religions, injustice and the power of the corrupt exist due to a specific mental structure of some people with respect to others. Violence and fear have a limited effect, and power requires that people change their minds, that people 'believe' in ideas that suit a few.

    Free knowledge makes us free. A free person will not kneel before imaginary Gods, he will not work for an exploiter, he will not give his vote to a corrupt man, he will not sell his securities for a few coins, nor will he go to war to kill other human beings that he does not even know. That person is a utopia, but the first step to make it a reality is that knowledge is free and open to everyone who wants it.


    Hello everyone,

    You cannot say more with less. We just need to believe it.

    A greeting.

  4.   Guille said

    And modern pharaohs have been carried on the backs of those who have deified them.
    And they are rich at the expense of the software they install in public administration, colleges and universities. But they appear every so often as philanthropists, making donations, when they are the cause of the poverty that many countries live, because if the money invested in licenses were invested in acquiring equipment and giving access to the world of information, another would be the situation.

    Regarding the software, it was necessary to mention RKward and the rkteaching package that greatly facilitates the understanding of statistical concepts.