However, repeated external and internal wars have caused a major brain drain and cultural collapse in Afghanistan. I experienced the brain drain first hand as a friend and I were enjoying the night in Afghanistan. My friend, a Hazaran Afghan, and I were overlooking an empty stretch of Highway One (the ring road connecting Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, and Mozer-e-Shraif) when I looked up at the sky and saw the constellation Orion. I have long considered Orion, a Greek-dubbed constellation as a sort of reminder of the niceties of winter.
Wondering if my Hazaran friend knew any Persian constellations, I asked he knew any Persian or local astronomy. He turned his head to look at me and even with the night darkness I could tell his eyes had considerably widened. "No," he said, "looking at the stars is for old women. Witchcraft." I tried to explain that I was talking about astronomy and not astrology but it was in vain. My friend responded with a question asking why people would care about the stars if they were not trying to gain some hidden, forbidden insight.
My friend is not some village hick but a high school educated Afghan who is active in the Sufi order of Shia Islam. Even with the religious influence of Persian Shiaism, the rich scientific culture of Persia has been eradicated from much of Afghanistan.