6 05 2008






contextualizing my thesis

11 02 2008


Provocating reactions?

21 11 2007

I got a very strong reaction from one scientist who was asked by my “supporter” in a well- known university in the Netherlands to let me film one of his experiment.


#   Here I report the original version in dutch and the translation into English: 

Professor to me (it means to my “supporter” who has been contacting professors in the University to ask for my permission to film.  My “supporter”  received this e- mail) :

Zoals je zult begrijpen respecteer ik zijn beslissing. Dat betekent dat wij geen medewerking zullen verlenen aan het projectvoorstel van Paula Boffi.



Technician to the professor:

Ik ben er echt niet weg van dit project; ik wil niet meewerken aan enige vergelijkingen tussen een katholieke mis en het uitvoeren van celkweek. Ik heb dit (italiaanse!!!) meisje helemaal door, het is een pure provocatie en ik heb geen zin om hierin mee te werken (en ik zou het ook absoluut niet op prijs stellen als een van onze medewerkers dit zou doen). Celkweek en wetenschappelijk onderzoek hebben niets te maken met rituelen (gelukkig).

Dit project kan alleen maar negatief uitpakken voor onze Faculteit. Jammer dus!

#   Translation into English

Professor to me (it means to my “supporter” who has been contacting professors in the University to ask for my permission to film.  My “supporter”  received this e- mail) :

As you will understand I respect his decision. This means we cannot give any cooperation to the project-proposition of Paula Boffi.



Technician to the professor:

I’m really not fond of this project; I do not want to cooperate on any comparisons that are made between a catholic mess and cell-reproduction.
I know what this (Italian!!!) girl is up to, this is pure provocation and I don’t feel like cooperating on this (and I don’t appreciate it at all if one of our fellow-colleagues would). Cell-reproduction and scientific investigation have nothing to do with rituals (fortunately).

This project can only have a negative influence on our Faculty.
Too bad!


My “supporter” was so shocked from this reaction that she phoned me. And she also started to say to me that this email is a good point for my thesis. It means I’m provoking a debate since the beginning and that I’m quite right raising the issue of the black box and the action of scientists. It means it is true that between science and people there is a kind of gap that makes scientific research and human feelings far away and not understandable each other.

My helper is now getting fond of my research and trying to find another scientist interested in my research. I may have an appointment with him in the next week.

Research proposal

19 11 2007

This is the link to access my research proposal:

#   research-proposal_laura-boffi.pdf

Biotechnogiosity religion features

13 11 2007

Here there is a list of key words/features related to Biotechnogiosity as religion:

#   it gives stability to Man and Society

#   it rules over the individual rights

#   it gathers together the collectivity

#   its content shows a moral imperative

#   it generates rituals

#   the collective aspect is more important than the individual ones

#   its aim is to find the truth

#   love as the beginning

#   order as the structure

#   progress as the end

#   it creates taboos

#   it has sacred objects which are forbidden, separated from the common life

#   the sacred object is the sistematic rapresentation of the world

#   it has object that inspires respect

#   it has object that inspires wordship

#   it has object that inspires fear

According to this list, I create one of the task that my recruited scientists are required to do in my cultural probes.

I associated to the sentences above a picture that explain the concept, but on the other hand not related to religion in order to reduce the influence on the testers. On the back of each postcards I asked to write a sentence or shoot a picture in the lab that rapresented the tester personal idea on the concept I wrote.

Comte and the Religion of Humanity

11 11 2007

In Comte view, religion gives stability to the relationship between man and society and it coordinates every single aspects of this interaction. Religion doesn’t give us any reality, it just gives sort of commandments. Especially in all those societies where there is not a scientific approach to reality.

I wonder now which kind of meaning religion would have in our age, where we actually experience science and its progress in every day life. Would religion reveale the truth in that case?

We live in the post- Reason age and we are empowering human life cycle thanks to Biotechnology.  Comte introduced the Religion of Humanity as the only spirituality practise that people during positivism could have had. Every natural aspects would have been explained from a scientific point of view, observation and practise. Humanity at the end would not only be the object of Religion, but even its subject, taking the place of God.

In the Biotechnology Age, I see Bioengineered Humanity as the object of religion, and as well its subject, together with the scientific community.

The religion in that case would actually be my Biotechnogiosity.

Recruited crew for cultural probes

11 11 2007

Up to now this is the recruited crew of scientists working in labs that joined my reseacrh with cultural probes. I managed to enrole them publishing “calls” in biotechnology/biology blogs and writing directly to people I came across through the internet.

1#   Neville Cobbe

He is a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh, Queen’s Medical Research Institute in Evolutionary Biology. He also writes articls for the magazine Zygon, about Religion and Science.

2#   Neli Prota

She is a Ph. D in Biology at the Waginengen University, The Netherlands. She is from Italy.

 3#   Simone  Maccaferri

He is an Italian researcher who is finishing his studies in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. He has been the president of CNSB, National Coordination of Biotechnology Students in Italy, ( Now he is working in the Industrial Microbiology Lab, Dept. Pharmaceutical Science of the University of Bologna. He is member of ANBI, Association of the Italian Biotechnologists, (, where he is following a projct about biotech lifelong learning as a delegate in the excutive board. He was enrolled in the team of young scientisc who carried out the Biopop project, a multilateral project funded by EU Six Framework Programme in which young European biotechnologists meet citizens to build a new model of communication with society.

4#   Gustavo Pesce

He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Molecular Scincs Institute MSI, (, where he is working on the yeast molecule.

The mission of the MSI is to predict the behaviour of cells and organisms in response to defined genetic and environmental changes.

5# Malgorzata Lagisz

She is a biologist, working as postdoctoral researcher at Newcastle University in the UK. She runs an EU-founded project on development of insecticide resistence in a pest beetle. Her research is quite interdisciplinary- it encompases ecology, ecotoxicology, genetics and bioinformatics. She does a lot of lab work (breeding and killing beetles, genetic analyses) and lots of computer work (data handling and analyses, writing papers), as most biologists do.

6# Francesca Kone

She is a master student in Marine Biology, Polytechnic University of Ancora, Italy.