A certain person who has worked with Carlo Pedretti, the renowned Leonardo da Vinci scholar, told me that, during the restoration under the Sforza palazzo in Milan, working with the pedestal for Leonardo’s incomparable horse, Pedretti has uncovered new information about Leonardo’s use of perspective.
“But he’s saving it for when the time is right,” the person confided.
Oh, and when will that be? “You mean he’s selfishly hoarding it for when he’s concerned that his illustrious career is flagging,” I said, with my usual tact.
“No, no, he’s just waiting for the right time,” the person insisted.
“The right time?” I cried. “The right time is now! I hope some enterprising grad student takes initiative and posts the information on the web!” The person stiffened and wandered off, drink in hand.
The point is that Leonardo da Vinci does not belong to Professore Pedretti, no matter how many decades Pedretti has invested in him. Leonardo belongs to the world. Leonardo belongs to humanity. If Pedretti has uncovered new information about Leonardo, who is one of the top ten most interesting people in history, Pedretti has a moral obligation to share it as fast as possible with as many people as possible. To sit on this information for any reason is petty selfishness of the worst sort. It reeks of Pedretti’s personal quest for power and glory, gain and status. It is corrupt.
I stand for the democratization of knowledge. But this places a terrible burden on civilians like me. The priesthoods who want knowledge concentrated within their own hands are not going to dispense that knowledge with any kind of grace. We have to bring ourselves to it, and work to understand.
Nowhere is this more easily visible than in science. Scientists don’t make it easy for non-scientists to understand what the hell is going on, and this is a big problem, because right now, scientists run the world. By that I mean they control what we eat, what we drink, what we breathe, what medicines we are administered, and so forth. Americans are, right now, guinea pigs in a giant laboratory experiment regarding genetically modified foods. Sure, an apricot with a few fish genes spliced in is shinier. But is it really, REALLY just as healthy as the regular kind of apricot that has a few speckles and brown spots, and a full complement of apricot genes, and only apricot genes? No one can really say for sure. Our grandchildren will be able to tell us, because their bodies will show the results of eating fishy apricots.
And don’t think the American Government is going to protect us. The FDA is nothing more, and nothing less, than a shill for the chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotech companies. In the American Government’s quest to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few people who own a lot of companies, and to reward those who help them do that, under the venal slogan that “The business of America is business,” scientists from biotech companies like Monsanto regularly leave their company position to work in the FDA when their company needs a product approved. There is no objective neutral analysis of data, because companies that have to spend the money to get through the approval process want to recoup that money as fast as possible. Is anyone really surprised that pharmaceutical companies were only releasing those trials that had the positive results they wanted? Corruption isn’t confined to scholars.