Who am I?
What's this blog about?
What's scientific temper?
"[What is needed] is the scientific approach, the adventurous and yet critical temper of science, the search for truth and new knowledge, the refusal to accept anything without testing and trial, the capacity to change previous conclusions in the face of new evidence, the reliance on observed fact and not on pre-conceived theory, the hard discipline of the mind—all this is necessary, not merely for the application of science but for life itself and the solution of its many problems." — (1946) ,
Why did I start this blog?
1. We might provide all required funding, training and support to school science teachers but what if they don't encourage the traits of questioning in children? What if school teachers themselves don't have a scientific temper? What impression does a physics teacher, following astrology, leave on the young fertile minds? Biology teachers who don't believe in evolution or don't appreciate its essence can't do justice to the subject. They would either not teach it or just teach evolution as a list of rote facts to be memorized.
2. Similarly, we may provide all the requisite funding and support to research but what if the lack of openness in society percolates into academia and creates an atmosphere where people cannot ask questions on the widely prevalent cultural beliefs that posit non-scientific explanations for natural phenomena? Such an academic setting would not push human knowledge towards the truth. It's the kind of societal culture that resisted Galileo and probably silenced many scientists.
Similarly, if questioning elder scientists is discouraged due to the percolation of cultural traits of a hierarchical society into the academia, we would end up doing only mechanized research yielding only incremental value. We won't make groundbreaking discoveries.
3. Parents want their kids to learn science but they often don't want the kids to question the superstitions. It's because parents are part of a culture that doesn't accept questioning certain things. Parents hence often act as barriers to the nurturing of critical thinking in children.
The important lesson is that, if we are to build a genuinely "educated society", a society where "the clear stream of reason has not lost its way", as Tagore wrote, we have to focus not just on schools and education policy. We have to extend our focus to the society as a whole.
I have a science degree, which made me think that I have the requisite background to do something about this. In fact, as someone who has studied science, promoting scientific temper in the society is a part of my responsibility towards the society, which, sadly many science graduates and scientists think that it is not a part of their job.
One might think that giving information about science alone is sufficient to remove superstitions. It's often not the case. People who study science needn't use that knowledge to question the beliefs of their own. People are to be nudged to aim inwards, and someone has to act as a sounding board through their thinking process. Providing both logical and emotional support through transition periods is equally important. This crucial process is missing from the science-communication in India.
What type of blog posts can I expect from this blog?
Being a scientific literate is useful in another sense. It will equip oneself to detect pseudoscience, quackery and bullshit! You won't be easily taken for a ride by all the pseudoscience around us.
It's important to communicate this mischief to the public. You can expect some posts on these lines, where I debunk pseudo-science myths.
If you come across any "shady" "science sounding explanation" which you want to get clarified, please feel to write to me at "I2WillQuestionEverything@gmail.com"
Thanks for reading.
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"Shed dogma. Embrace science"