Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication
Interactive science series
Q: Is skepticism about GMOs or Biotechnology anti-science? Why do scientists react in extreme ways when general public object to them?
Krishna: When people outside the field of science fall prey to mis-interpretations and react with fear, scientists who have full knowledge about the subject get frustrated. Why don't people listen to and trust scientists?
You have every right to choose who you want to listen to. But think about this: Can a person who has an MBA or an MFA or an MA in theology interpret scientific knowledge in research papers as well as a scientist with M.Sc., Ph.D. and years of experience in research does?
Scientists are skeptics too, but they follow a methodology and accepted rules. You cannot question things based on your beliefs, fears, mis-directed opinions, and other emotions.
Why don't general public get well acquainted with the subject and analyse it thoroughly with an unbiased mind first before coming to a conclusion?
If you say 'I am not a racist but don't allow people of some ethnic origins in my circle', what does that mean?
What do you call your qualities of fear of science, not learning about a subject fully before judging it, going against an expert's advice and raising your voice against it and harming the societies you live in by spreading mis-information?
If you want to lead a campaign to impose your irrational fears of the advancement of technology and science on other people, call them alternative truths and mis-direct others too what does that mean?
Okay, shall we call it anti-social, if not anti-science? :)
Q: Are scientists the final authority while deciding what is right and what is wrong?
Krishna: Scientific methodology is the final authority. Science is, as Feynman said, the best way we humans have invented to prevent fooling ourselves. Otherwise we would think our beliefs - no matter how irrational they are - are correct and can guide us towards the right direction.
Scientists who follow scientific methodology question everything, including their own beliefs, and test every finding rigorously. They never make claims of unfalsifiable truths. All they have are hypotheses and theories and that can be either confirmed or falsified. They never have 100% confidence in their findings, 99% at best. Everything, even the most obvious and intuitive things are uncertain to some degree. When mistakes are made, they are announced and corrected. Science is a never-ending self- correcting process. You improve yourself more and more as time goes by.
It is a vigorously flowing river, whatever pollution added to it, will get washed away quickly.
Q: A friend of mine tells me that outside of physics, most scientists do not consider physics to be a true science. Is this true? She (biology major) says this is because it relies heavily on math, and is actually a mix of math and science. I disagree. I think that physics is a science because it uses the scientific method, and it is not a math because it does not rely solely on deduction. I think it just uses math as a tool.
Krishna: What your friend says is not true.
I am a Microbiologist and deal with Physics when I am dealing with microscopes. I deal with chemistry while I am conducting my experiments in my lab to find toxins in food. I deal with maths and statistics while understanding my data. I love all these fields as much as I love my subject.
In other words, all the subjects in science are interlinked and depend on one another.
We creatively connect things from the various fields to derive more knowledge in all arenas of science. And all science deals with a common methodology.
Science is science whether one accepts it or not. Individual opinions don’t count much in science.
Q: Our planet has many living beings. How come only human beings can understand things in a scientific way?
Krishna: Many human beings too don't understand things in a scientific way! :)
And it was found several other living beings - like dolphins, elephants, chimps - are intelligent enough to do things using their rational thought although they are not as advanced as we are in doing that.
Cetacean intelligence refers to the cognitive capabilities of the Cetacea ( whales and dolphins)
According to The Smartest Animals on the Planet by Dr. Sally Boysen, recently revised and updated with new studies and sections, you can break down animal intelligence into a few categories: social learning, mirror self-recognition, numerical abilities, language comprehension, cooperation with others, and altruism.
No doubt human beings are more evolved than other living beings but when you think about other forms of life that can beat adverse conditions more effectively than us like Tardigrades -
the-almost-indestructible-animal-that-is-helping-human-beings , you wonder whether you are really more evolved than other living beings.
Q: Is anything more exciting to a scientist than discovering that a theory long held to be true turns out to be incorrect or incomplete?
Krishna: Anything new excites us whether it is new evidence justifying and agreeing with a theory or falsifying it. Everything that helps us understand the world in a better way than the previous one thrills us to no end!
Q: Your article on "Microbiomes" is interesting. Do microbes control us really?
Krishna: Gut microbes have been shown to influence diet and behaviour as well as anxiety, depression, hypertension and a variety of other conditions of living beings. Now neuroscientists have found that specific types of gut flora also help a host animal detect which nutrients are missing in food, and then finely titrate how much of those nutrients the host really needs to eat. Scientists are trying to find out how this is possible.
Q: How do you think the universe started?
Krishna: This is what many scientists think...
Q: Is there any scientific reason behind crossing of our path by a cat?
Krishna: No! There is absolutely no scientific reason behind this superstition.
I have answered several of these questions here where people try to authenticate their baseless beliefs using pseudo-science as justification. When real science cannot endorse a belief only non-sense can come to people’s rescue. But the innocent still believe these things!
Recently I read an interesting comment describing the state of affairs here: A black cat passing by the crossroad anywhere in India can stop hundreds of people what a RED LIGHT on traffic signal has failed to do for a long time!!
How about using cats instead of red lights at the traffic junctions here? :)
Another person, VC, who read my answer to the above Q on cats said this... and my replies to him...
Science is, as Feynman said, the best way we humans have invented to prevent fooling ourselves.