A meeting of Nigerian academics interested in traditional knowledge was told to be a bit more humble in the face of the “uneducated” people in whom such knowledge resides. Many of the papers at the meeting seem to have been concerned with putting traditional knowledge to work, for example to reduce imports of pharmaceuticals by replacing them with traditional medicinal plants. One wonders, though, about the knowledge levels — traditional or otherwise — of the speaker who apparently said:
“conventional drugs are chemicals and therefore toxic. They are costly, but natural products are environmentally friendly. Unlike chemicals, natural products promote biodiversity and conservation.”
Seems to me that a little more depth of understanding is needed on all sides. Sure, traditional knowledge can be useful. But it needs to be tempered with a bit of rational investigation.