SCI-ART LAB

Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

                                                                 Interactive science series

Q: Dr. Krishna, I am a journalist. Trolling on the net  has become a menace for me. As a science communicator, how do you deal with people who attack you?

Krishna: Hello, it is good to hear from a journalist. Don't worry we are on the same page. Like I have said before, you have to deal with all sorts of people in this world.  

Ninety-nine percent of the people who read what I write are okay to deal with. But one percent  of people create problems for me too.  Just because my write ups try to dislodge their baseless beliefs, misconceptions, and ignorance-based emotions, they think I am their rival or enemy! 

How do you deal with a person who doesn't even know what a scientific evidence is? What a peer-reviewed paper is? And treat it as an 'opinion' of a person?

How do you deal with a person who cannot distinguish between an expert and a lay man on the street?

How do you deal with a person who doesn't understand what you say?

How do you deal with a person who refuses to even consider your evidence? How do you deal with a completely closed mind? How do you deal with a person who is blinded by baseless beliefs?

How do you deal with a person  who is highly emotional and hits you, trolls you and uses abusive words while dealing with you?

How do you deal with a person who refuses to see reason no matter how much you tried? 

How do you deal with a person who uses unscientific methods to convince you that s/he is right?

How do you deal with a person whose mind is still lodged in ancient times?

How do you deal with a person who tries to undermine, undo  and make your efforts, mission and good intentions ineffective?

How do you deal with wrong circuits formed in a human brain? You try to correct them or replace them.

Well, fight back calmly and softly to protect your work and defend it with all your might.  Still if people don't backtrack, just hit ignore button and move on. Mere 1% of people are not worth wasting your time on. You have rest of the 99% to deal with. When this majority wave hits them, that 1% minority has to fall down.

Like Plato said ... We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light!

Nobody can stop light, truth and facts from entering the public arena. When science fights back, nobody can win. We are on the right side. Why worry then?

Q: Does salt kill beneficial bacteria of the curd?

Krishna: Most of the lactobacilli are either halophilic or halotolerant and can withstand moderate concentrations of salt. You can add some amount of salt (3–4% will be okay) to the curd without disturbing their populations much.

Q: I live a very disciplined life. But still I was diagnosed with a major disease now. All my relatives are laughing at me and say I myself am responsible for it because of my strict regulation of my system. I am distressed. Is leading a disciplined life bad?

Krishna: Ignorance is loud. Just close your ears to protect yourself.

Recently we took one of our grandmothers to a doctor. After listening to her constipation,  acidity and GERD problems, the gastroenterologist said: " I eat lots of pickles and spices. But still I didn't get any of these complications. Eat them. Your system will get used to them."

I was literally shocked. What sort of a doctor is he? Boasting about himself and belittling the habits and conditions of others with his ignorance? Yes, I call this ignorance!

Then I said, 'Doctor, you are in your forties. My granny is in her eighties. You can't even compare my granny with yourself! Each person is different. At the age of 80, imagine about the digestive system of a person and imagine the digestive system of a person at 40 or 60. As a gastroenterologist you should have considered  the functional decline of the aging gastrointestinal tract.  Changes in the aging GIT include the mechanical disintegration of food, gastrointestinal motor function, food transit, chemical food digestion, and functionality of the intestinal wall. These alterations progressively decrease the ability of the GIT to provide the aging person with adequate levels of nutrients, what contributes to the development of malnutrition. 

 The population group of old humans is very heterogeneous and chronological age alone does not necessarily determine the physiological condition the aging person consists of. It is, indeed, the biological age that pictures the face of aging. Every living organism is growing old differently and the individual perception of this process differs depending on the attitude, living conditions, diseases and environmental influences [1]. 

Before saying what you said, have you considered the age of my granny, her gut condition, her physiology, her genes, her gut microbiota, the medicines she uses and several other conditions that influenced her medical conditions? 

Your digestive system moves food through your body by a series of muscle contractions which   push food along your digestive tract. As we age, this process sometimes slows down, and this can cause food to move more slowly through the colon. When things slow down, more water gets absorbed from food waste, which can cause constipation.

Older adults take a lot of medicines. Several common medications can cause constipation. One example is calcium channel blockers, used for high BP. Very good for BP but very constipation causing. Narcotic pain relievers are another common culprit. An older adult who has knee or hip replacement surgery will often be given narcotics for pain. Narcotics have effects directly on the bowel. They actually slow the gut.

People often become less active as they age. And being inactive can make you constipated. Not drinking enough fluids is another cause. Staying hydrated helps prevent constipation at any age. It can become more of an issue for older adults who take diuretics for high BP or heart failure. Diuretics lower blood pressure by causing you to lose excess fluid by urinating more often. Some people may avoid drinking too many fluids so they don't have to run to the bathroom all day long. Between urinating more and drinking less, you can become dehydrated.

Diverticular Disease is another cause. About half of people age 60 and older have this condition. This occurs when small pouches in the lining of the colon bulge out along weak spots in the intestinal wall. While many people don't have any symptoms, gas, bloating, cramps, and constipation may occur. It is part of the aging of the colon. As we get older, we're more prone to developing these pockets. Why they occur with age is unclear. While most of the time they don't cause a problem and don't require treatment, they can cause scarring and irregularity. If the pockets become inflamed, it's called diverticulitis,  which can cause abdominal pain and cramping.

Ulcers & NSAIDs is another reason.  Many older adults use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control pain from arthritis and other types of chronic pain. Regular use of NSAIDs increases the risk for stomach bleeding and ulcers. So while aging alone doesn't make your stomach more prone to ulcers, the chronic use of NSAIDs does raise your risk. 

Then old people have to deal with problems of the mouth and oesophagus.  When old people lose teeth they can't chew their food well. This makes digestion difficult for them. The esophagus is the tube that connects our mouth to our stomach. Like the colon, the esophagus can also slow down with age, moving food through more slowly. This can cause problems swallowing food or fluids. Polyps in the GI track can have an effect too.

Gastroparesis is a disorder in which the stomach empties extremely slowly — a meal that can be digested in about four hours in a healthy person may take days to empty out of the stomach of someone with gastroparesis. Gastroparesis results when the vagus nerve, which contracts the stomach to squeeze food further down the digestive tract, becomes damaged in some way. Diabetes can be one reason for that condition.

Fibromyalgia can also effect food movement in GI tract.

The carbonates used to ripen fruits, the pesticide residues on food products also effect your GIT.

Medical diagnosis is highly complicated.  There is lot of clinical skills involved, lots of patient to patient variations involved. Combination of two symptoms make one diagnosis in one patient and other in second patient despite exactly the same symptoms. Lots of human factors involved.

With so many things effecting, you can't even compare one patient with another, leave alone a healthy person with a non-healthy one.

I am sorry to say you have to change your thinking process to deal effectively with your patients".

The doctor knew that he lost one of his patients when we left!

So when even the so called experts say and do dumb things, you can't blame your laymen relatives. Hit the ignore button and do what your mind says is the right thing for you and your system.

Read this article I wrote on the issue to make yourself more strong in your resolve: http://kkartlab.in/group/some-science/forum/topics/some-qs-people-a...

Q: After reading your reply to the above querry, I think even experts can go wrong. I have had some very bad experiences with a few Indian doctors. What can we do in such situations?

Krishna: Increase your knowledge in a genuine way to take informed decisions. That is the only way out.

Yes, I have seen some Gastroenterologists eating all sorts of grasses and boasting about it. I was taken aback when the wife of a cardiologist told me sometime back that  her husband eats only deep fried vegetables every day and refuses to eat if she boils them!

I have also seen doctors who smoke and drink heavily.

What do you call that? What is knowledge for if you don't utilize it?

I want to add here that majority of the doctors are good and have tremendous knowledge. Only a few go heywire. Despite their knowledge they are mere human beings with emotions and can make mistakes. You can trust your doctor but be cautious at the same time.

Q: How do superstitions take root and get lodged in our minds?

Krishna: When you lack critical thinking abilities and make wrong connections. I will give an example.

One of my friend's parents constructed a new house. As soon as the house warming ceremony was over, they shifted  to their new house. But according to my friend's father, the house is giving them trouble! Why?

It seems the pundits they consulted told them that they 're facing difficulties because of the "Vaastu Dosha" of the house and asked them to perform some rituals.

I asked my friend what difficulties they are facing. 'My mother's health got spoiled after shifting to our new home. She developed diabetes and arthritis. Earlier she was okay', she replied.

'What is the age of your mother?', I asked.

'' 65" , she replied.

"Then, it is the old age that is causing her problems. Not the house. It just is a coincidence that the symptoms came out and are showing at the same time you shifted to your new house. You are making the wrong connections. Vaastu of your house has nothing to do with the health of your mother ", I told my friend.

Two things can be considered here for the difficulties faced by them: The age factor and the new house. Instead of taking the real factor, i.e., the age which is the real culprit, they have chosen the unscientific route to mark 'house' as the factor! 

That is how superstitions originate. With a faulty thought process. 

Q: Why should we not drink water while standing? 

Q: Can Standing and drinking water can cause arthritis?

Q: Does water splash on the stomach wall when had standing?

Q: Do we suffer suffer indigestion when we drink water standing?

Q: Don't kidneys  filter water properly when had in standing position?

Q: Does drinking water in standing position dilute the acid levels in the body?

Q: Does  drinking water by standing causes ulcers and heartburn?

Q: Do your nerves become tense when you drink water standing?

Krishna: As usual there is a lot of pseudo-science doing the rounds . There is no scientific evidence for what people say.

I don’t see any difference between drinking water while sitting or drinking it while standing. I drink liquids while standing most of the time without any bad consequences.

Water doesn't hit any part of the esophagus if you drink it while standing. It is carried by the esophagus and in contact with it the entire time. GERD doesn’t have any connection with drinking water in a standing position. Gravity works the same way while taking the water down your GI tract whether you are sitting or standing.

How can the water that goes to your stomach from your throat affect your joints? Water will reach your stomach pretty much the same way while you are standing or sitting!

Scientifically speaking, it would be better if we put a full stop to this myth because people are propagating pseudo-science. 

Q: Is PhD losing its value in scientific research?  

Krishna: If a stepping stone is missing you will face all sorts of difficulties. Without a Ph.D. training scientific research becomes difficult in today’s world.

So the answer to your Q is no!

Q: My physics lecturer says he doesn't understand quantum mechanics properly. Therefore, he admits he is passing on ignorance to us! Doesn't anybody understand the strange world of quantum physics? Is science equal to ignorance?

Krishna: Why doesn't your lecturer make an attempt to understand it? Several physicists I know understands it fully.  One person's laziness and ignorance doesn't make knowledge equivalent to its opposite. It is people like your lecturer that are giving fodder to people who are anti-science.

Q: The way a guruji was exposed by Nirmukta community is that genuine? Is guruji propagating pseudo-science? There is an article that critically defames guruji on Nirmukta website and the link is given below. http://nirmukta.com/2012/07/26/jaggi-vasudev-doesnt-understand-scie...  

Krishna: It would be better if gurujis and others who don’t ‘understand’ science (even if they are from the field of science and say they don’t comprehend it properly and say it is ignorance ) keep off the subject. Science is not a cooking recipe. Not everybody can have a go at it. You need to have a ‘specific mind’ to experience the thrill and make use of the knowledge it provides. As science effects our lives in a tremendous way, if you create pseudo-science and misconceptions with your strange perceptions it will harm the society we are living in more.

And those who say science doesn’t provide answers to several questions and ridicule it, this is my reply …  Science will answer your questions and solve your problems too!

Q: Isn't it the inability of science  to provide answers to several questions that is making people doubt its integrity, degrade and ridicule it?

Krishna: In the earlier times i.e., in the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, we didn't know several things about the universe we know now. People used to think proof of the existence of the thunder god Thor or some other supernatural being responsible for thunder and lightning and other electric phenomena. They didn't know how the Sun worked. So they worshiped  the sun god Ra or one of the other solar deities thinking that they 're responsible for the solar energy.

Scientists can now explain several mysteries in the universe. Likewise science can deal with unknown entities with clarity in the future. But it takes time. It is not proper to ridicule science.

 This universe started with a Big Bang ( according to one theory - which is not yet proved!) some 14 Billion years ago. But science is just a few hundred years old. It is still in its infancy. It has to learn a lot, study a lot, think a lot, experiment a lot and then only it can come up with all the answers we are seeking right now. How can you expect a child to solve all the problems of his ancestors? And answer the questions posed by his great, great, great, great grand fathers? Is it appropriate to even expect such a thing? I don't think so. We should be amazed at how we have been able to get so far in understanding the things in this universe despite our inadequacies! Science is doing its best with the limited resources it has to both answer the questions and solve the problems. As the time goes by, I am pretty sure, it will succeed more and more. Please have patience!

Science will answer your questions and solve your problems too!

Q: Why do some intelligent people still believe in pseudosciences and pseudoscientific claims?  

Krishna: There is a difference between intelligent people and intellectuals!

Only critical thinkers can differentiate between real science of the day and pseudo-science. Just because you learn something and use it in your daily life to become smart doesn’t make you can intellectual. 

Q: Can I drink a galss of red wine while taking antibiotics?

Krishna: Alcohol often has harmful interactions with prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and even some herbal remedies. Alcohol interactions with medications may cause problems such as:

nausea and vomiting, headaches, drowsiness, dizziness, fainting, changes in blood pressure, abnormal behavior, loss of coordination and accidents.
Mixing alcohol and medications also may increase the risk of complications such as:

liver damage, heart problems, internal bleeding, impaired breathing and depression.

In some cases, alcohol interactions may decrease the effectiveness of medications or render them useless. In other cases, alcohol interactions may make drugs harmful or even toxic to the body.

Even in small amounts, alcohol also may intensify medication side effects such as sleepiness, drowsiness, and light-headedness, which may interfere with your concentration and ability to operate machinery or drive a vehicle, and lead to serious or even fatal accidents.

Hundreds of commonly used prescription and over-the-counter drugs may adversely interact with alcohol. These include medications used for: Allergies, colds, and flu, angina and coronary heart disease, anxiety and epilepsy, arthritis, blood clots, cough, depression, diabetes, enlarged prostate, heartburn and indigestion, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, infections, muscle pain, nausea and motion sickness, pain, fever, and inflammation, seizures, severe pain from injury, post-surgical care, oral surgery, migraine and sleep problems.

Alcohol is metabolized in the liver, and a lot of drugs are metabolized via the same pathways. So it has the potential to interact with a whole host of drugs, including things you might not think are related at all.

One should never drink while on antibiotic treatment.

What might happen when you take lots of medicines...

Q: Are our brains controlled by chemicals?

Krishna: A lady recently told me an interesting anecdote. When this lady was  pregnant with her first child, because of the hormonal changes in her body, it seems she felt like a completely different person!

Her senses got heightened. She could smell things being cooked in far away neighbouring buildings and felt nauseating about them.  All that she ate earlier and felt tasty too became nauseating! She couldn't bear perfumes she and her husband used earlier any more! She could smell the phase where the fragrance actually died down to a dead odour. Her  regular senses are not sensitive to this phase. Absolute strangers on the road would seem familiar, as though she knew each one of them since forever. A profound connection, a feeling of oneness overwhelmed her. Music sounded more sweeter even though she wasn't an an audiophile earlier.

All the above things were brought about by a change in her body chemistry while she was pregnant - presence of some hormones that effected her brain too! After three months of her delivery, she said, she became normal again!

I am sure now you got your answer!

According to neuroscience, we are a highly and deeply orchestrated symphony of quintillions of different interrelated chemical reactions per second.  There are probably over 1 sextillion (1 with 21 zeros) separate individual chemical reactions happening in the brain each second, driving a giant electromechanical information switching network that creates our conscious awareness from molecular building blocks.

Q: How can we identify misinformation about science?

Krishna: I have observed that people pick up something from the net and add it in their blogs and articles without realizing that they are spreading pseudo-science, misinformation, ignorance, baseless beliefs, fears and all sorts of rubbish. And I am more astonished to see that these things get more views and up votes/thumbs ups than the ones  from experts and therefore appear on the first pages  of the search engines.

You can firewall yourself from this nonsense if you want. How?

First check whether the person is qualified to write on the subject or not.

Or check whether or not it has citations from high standard journals - not any citation.

Then think whether the information provided could be correct or not using your critical thinking abilities and knowledge.

Several times I felt like down voting the misinformation but didn’t.

A request: If you don’t know the correct information especially to the questions in science,  please don’t write on it. Don’t mislead people. Don’t spread misinformation.

Science information is not a cooking recipe. Not everybody is entitled to have a go at it!

How to trust science stories: A guide for common man

Lab scientists versus internet scientists

Q: Is science easy or difficult?

Krishna: It is easy to read/know what others did in scientific research. It is difficult to do the research yourself and convince your peers what you did is right!

Karl Marx had said in his Das Kapital: "There is no royal road to science, and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits.”

It is relatively easy if you know how to go about the subject. It is difficult if you have mind blocks.

It is relatively easy if you gain lots of experience. It is difficult if you just entered the arena.

But, my experience tells me, yes, science is a bit difficult subject to deal with when compared to the other ones ( I deal with several).

And we do science not because it is easy but because it is difficult!

Q: Is there any way to get rid of extreme bad luck using science?

Krishna : Why do you blame your ‘luck’ in the first place? It just is your perception about the situation you are in!

When several factors decide outcomes, they follow the interplay of scientific rules and routes and exactly fit into the reaction realities. You have to register this in your mind to come out of the misery you are in. Watch it coolly and try to understand it. How a person survives a health condition or a catastrophe or a bad situation depends on the sum total outcomes of scientific factors occurring simultaneously. Other outside things have no effect whatsoever on it. Any connections you make between rituals/superstitions and the outcomes depend on your perceptions and experiences. A positive outcome either to you or others makes you stick with them. A negative result will make you attack them. But the net result doesn't depend on anything that is not related to it! And these unrelated factors are your beliefs, rituals, superstitions and myths.

Failures might occur in life. When they do, you should revisit your problem, analyse it thoroughly in an enlightened way and think you haven't found a proper solution to it yet and that's why you couldn't overcome it, then try to get one, increase your efficiency of the effort, plug the loopholes and go after it with all your might to defeat it.

Science's rules are unyielding, they will not be bent in any way fo...

Q: Dr. Krishna, I did my PG in Sciences. But still I am puzzled by your article Why Astrology is pseudo-science: Debate between scientists and people who practice pseudo-science - ...

Plz give your personal views. You are a scientist so as a scientist how do you take Astronomy and relation between astronomy and astrology. Can a science be a psuedo in nature ? Can two adjectives psuedo and science run along each other ?Plz name some other sciences categorised as psuedosciences.

Krishna: I was literally shocked when a person with an M.Sc. qualification asked me these questions! Either you didn’t read my article or even if you read it, you processed it with a biased view and therefore couldn’t analyse it neutrally like others did.

I have explained already in my article that Astrology is not Astronomy. When science doesn’t stick to modern scientific methodology but still claims to be science, it becomes pseudo-science. The big difference between science and pseudo-science is a difference in approach. While a pseudo-science is set up to look for evidence that supports its claims, a science is set up to challenge its claims and look for evidence that might prove it false. In other words, pseudo-science seeks confirmations and science seeks falsifications(3). Scientific claims are falsifiable -- that is, they are claims where you could set out what observable outcomes would be impossible if the claim were true -- while pseudo-scientific claims fit with any imaginable set of observable outcomes. What this means is that you could do a test that shows a scientific claim to be false, but no conceivable test could show a pseudo-scientific claim to be false. Sciences are testable, pseudo-sciences are not.
The important difference seems to be in which approach gives better logical justification for knowledge claims. A pseudo-science may make you feel like you've got a good picture of how the world works, but you could well be wrong about it. If a scientific picture of the world is wrong, that hard-headed scientific attitude means the chances are good that we'll find out we're wrong and switch to a different picture. Science discards it if some idea or theory was found wrong. The scientific attitude is aimed at locating and removing the false claims -- something that doesn't happen in pseudo-sciences.

When asked the question, "What is the most widely accepted pseudo-science?" , several scientists said these interesting things in a survey:

*Folk medicine of various sorts. The most widely accepted class of pseudo-scientific beliefs would probably be alternative "medicine" of all sorts. Homeopathy, "energy healing" or crystals etc.

*The most accepted single pseudo-scientific belief would probably be astrology.

*Psychology, evolutionary psychology, social theories, etc. any "science" that doesn't follow the scientific method. Any science with excessive use of probabilities instead of fundamental principles and laws. Psychiatry, sociology, women's studies, all valid philosophical subjects but not science. [ Science is when we have a defined hypothesis and a generally accepted method (experiment) to invalidate it. We can never fully validate a hypothesis because many explanations can be offered for the same phenomenon but we can set up a test so as to exclude an explanation.]


*In the USA " creation science " and ID must be the largest pseudosciences. Followed closely by both secular creationism and alternative medicine. The former is a social constructionist concept held in sociology, cultural anthropology and some of psychology. Some in sociology and cultural anthropology do not even hide their pseudo scientific tendencies and call for the abolition of the scientific method in their disciplines.

*Nutritional supplements and dieting products.

* 'Science' explaining traditional and cultural rituals.

Please read my article to which I gave the link above and this one… to understand what pseudo-science is …

Be alert - Pseudo-Science and Anti-Science are on the Prowl!

CITATIONS

1. Gariballa SE, Sinclair AJ. Nutrition, ageing and ill health. Br J Nutr. 1998;80:7–23. [PubMed]

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