SCI-ART LAB

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

                                                                       Interactive science series

Q: Can scientists prove that mind is the result of our brain activity?

Krishna: Yes, using the method of neuro- imaging, neuro-scientists can measure an aspect of brain function that co-relates with a particular mental state or process including our thinking and other mind activities.

That is they can tell which part of the brain is activated during our thinking. "loss function" and ''gain function'' experiments show which part is essential for what activity. When the activity is lost in certain parts of our brains, our minds too go haywire.

Pharmacological manipulation - i.e., by using drugs that interfere with neuro-transmission scientists can make alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, and behaviour ( Like using anesthesia to interfere with our consciousness). Likewise, electrical and magnetic  simulations too can interference with neurological activity in our brains. And light can be used to manipulate our neurons too!

Q: What happens to our consciousness after our death?

Krishna: My reply is from a neuro-scientific point of view. Religious people might have a different view on this but that is irrelevant here. 

Our consciousness is the result of our brain activity - mind and consciousness are closely connected with the physical functioning of brain and interactions between various neurons in it. 

If our death is defined as ceasing of brain's functions completely, the resultant consciousness too disappears. In other words, without our brains, there won't be any consciousness.

According to neuro-scientists, consciousness fails to survive brain death and, along with all other mental functions, is irrecoverably lost.

Q: Which branch of science is more important?

Krishna: I think scientific methodology is more important than anything else. It is what makes science what really it is. It is a crime to even enter the field without knowing how to go about in the field of science. 

I have seen people arguing with scientists without understanding what science really is, how to challenge science scientifically. People don't understand what critical thinking in science  means. 

They use lop-sided arguments that have nothing to do with science - using religion, politics, baseless beliefs, misconceptions, superstitions, myths, pseudo-science and what not. 

You cannot win or move ahead in science without fully following scientific methodology.

Students should be taught what scientific methodology is first before making them study science.

Q: What essential items would I need to create a home science lab? Not for kids, but more for research adult hobbyist.

Krishna: That depends on your research topic! How can we generalize?!

I created a microbiology lab in my home with a microscope, oven, cooker, petri dishes, UV lamp, heater, some glassware and other equipment we need for my specific work, chemicals and lots more.

I spent about one lakh rupees for all that. But love the lab. It gives me great satisfaction to work in it.

Q: Which acid is present in a human being?
Krishna: The important acids a human body needs…
Hydrochloric acid (in stomach)
Lactic acid (in muscles)
Deoxyribonucleic acid and Ribonucleic acid ( genes)
Amino acids ( building blocks of proteins ) - isoleucine, methionine, histidine, phenylalanine, lysine, leucine, tryptophan, threonine, arginine and valine.
Fatty acids ( membranes of cell, proteins and hormones )

Q: Are superstitions just coping mechanisms?

Krishna: Yes, of course!

Some people need external emotional support to cope with high chaos in their lives and the resultant low confidence. Then they take the support of irrational beliefs. For some fear is the trigger for accepting what others believe in.

Research has proved this. If you want to conquer this with a strong mind read this article: Science's rules are unyielding, they will not be bent in any way fo...

Q: Do you understand everything you explain to others?

Krishna: Yes, of course! How can I explain something I myself don't understand? 

 People ask me several questions on science. And I am not an expert on everything. I would go and learn all about the topic by reading original research papers on the topic, try to understand it fully, take the help of my scientist friends and then only I will give explanations.

Science impacts the whole societies we live in. It is important that we mentioned only facts in clear terms. Sometimes our information becomes the question of life and death in life sciences. We cannot go wrong.

Q: How can young scientists practically get involved in scientific journalism to make science closer to the general public?

Krishna: Follow me! :)

I am one such person with the qualities you mentioned. I started a science communication network on line and write and report on science research. I educate people just based on the merit of the content. I write according to my convenience, without anybody dictating things to me on how I should go about doing things.

I try to give correct information as far as possible. I write from a scientist’s point of view, not from a journalist’s perspective but still people can understand me perfectly well!!!

What more do you need? :)

Q: How can science be distinguished fro pseudo-science? 

Krishna: There are several ways to distinguish science from pseudo-science which I mentioned in my articles:

Love Science, not its impostors!

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

Q: How do I become an excellent science journalist?

Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring science journalist?

Krishna: I wrote a series of articles on the subject and posted here in this group in the science communication series. Read them.

Q: What qualifies a person to be a science writer?

Krishna: A science writer should be very passionate about science and the subject he or she is writing on. The reason is- to investigate, one has to do research -real research - not like the research internet scientists do on a science story or to challenge it, to do quality science stories to give detailed and valid explanations you need thorough knowledge and understanding of science. Communicators should be able to connect these facts of science to life's issues efficiently so that people would get convinced beyond doubt that following the scientific path would benefit them immensely! Journalists also are not all well-trained to assess the validity of a study so they just try to find the human interest and the hope—a headline that can catch people's interest. That is a very bad way of doing things.

"Science training is not like going to truck driving school. It is a way of thinking - a way of life - a way of interacting with the world in realistic terms no matter what you are doing." Yes, it should make science get into your veins, blood, each cell of your body and the mechanism that controls it. Then only you can become a person of science, living the way of science with passion and pass it on to others around you! Just interest and zeal in doing something - which sounds like a hobby - is different from doing it with passion like professionals go about their fields! Science writers and journalists are seldom experts in the fields they write about. Most of them have dabbled a bit in science themselves, but they are more or less professional amateurs.

One has to be thoroughly connected with science to become a good science writer.

Why science journalism is not taken seriously in this part of the w...

Then there are some rules to follow to write: Golden rules of science communication

Q: Has science journalism succeeded at creating a devoted niche audience but failed at creating for the public a general science literacy?  

Krishna: First let us decide what science literacy is… this article gives a picture of a scientifically literate person:

Literate people living in urban areas are too scientifically illite...

Then has science journalism helped in really educating the general public and making people science literates? No!

When I go out I realize I couldn’t find a single person who really is a science literate. Thousands of people read my article mentioned above but none of them admitted they are truly science literates! But they devotedly read all science articles the journalists write. Some think they are good at science but the experts disagree.

Reasons for this debacle? Read here:

Why science journalism is not taken seriously in this part of the w...

Q: How can people better evaluate the quality of the scientific content they're reading online?  

Krishna: There is a guide to evaluate science in the media: How to trust science stories: A guide for common man

Q:Science journalism gives disproportionately high coverage to "high impact" journals and not to potentially high impact research. Can this be addressed?  

Krishna: Yes, when journalists realize that science journalism is different from other forms of journalism there can be a change. These points have been discussed in these articles:

Why science journalism is different from other forms of journalism

Why science journalism is not taken seriously in this part of the w...

Q: In the serial on Nat Geo "Einstein', it was mentioned that Albert Einstein had to face some political issues. Do today's scientists also face political issues?

Krishna: Yes, of course!

Each time we hear some politicians speaking against AGW issue or any other issue that negates facts and scientific concensus based on data, these thoughts go around in circles in our minds: A scientist spends his whole life attempting to advance human knowledge while watching in frustration as politicians spend theirs ignoring it /rubbishing it/ridiculing it/ dismantling it.

But we cannot have any control over their views. They take policy decisions. We don’t!

We can only educate people and build up opinions and views against opponents of scientific views. And we are trying our best.

Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) hypothesis which says man-made greenhouse gases are causing climate change.

Q: Can you believe the scientific research's results which were achieved by people who don't believe in God?

Krishna: What have scientific research results to do with a belief in God?

A scientist uses his knowledge, brain and creative connections to find out something. I trust the results based on their merit and soundness of scientific methodology used.

Most of the scientists in today’s world are atheists. If I don’t want to trust them, I might better live in a cave situated in a deep forest. Even then I cannot escape science because my body came into existence using science and my entire life depends on scientific principles whether a scientist finds out how or not! My experience with life can still definitely give me a scientific perspective if I am a critical thinker. Belief has no place in it.

Q: My daughter is being possessed. Can I take her to a pastor or other religious heads to lift the spell off her? What is wrong with that?

Krishna: You are asking me what is wrong with your assessment of the situation your daughter is in? You can't even think properly. There are no devils or demons to possess. She might be having some mental issues.

If you really want to listen to me...take her to a medical doctor immediately if you really care about her well-being. 

Q: If an online psychic tells me if I don't pay and listen to him I will lose everything, is this appropriate on a spiritual or universal level?

Krishna: This psychic wants to control you by creating a sense of fear in you. Hit the ignore button. Stop all contacts with him.

Don’t worry, you will be alright. He cannot do anything to you without your full consent. 

There is no such thing as a Psychic or clairvoyant

Q: What are some interesting mysteries around us, like the mystery of Bermuda Triangle. What are scientists' theories about them?

Krishna: Mysteries are mysteries only till science explains them.

Bermuda triangle is no longer a mystery. Because science has explained it in detail...

Find more explanations of mysteries by science here:

Why some interesting things happen in Nature according to science

Q: Should a science communicator have patience to answer stupid questions people pose?

Krishna: Not all questions people  ask are stupid.

What really bothers me is 'peoples'  understanding' of a subject based on their biases, previously known information,  motivational reasoning, strange mind screw ups and personal choices.

Scientific reasoning and the resultant perception of things should arise from a neutral point of view. The they must get the information from the reliable sources. Then only people get their facts right.

As an example I want to add this 'talk' I had with a degree student: 

His first Q was " What are some superstitions that have originated from modern science?

My reply: What?! Some questions really shock me.

Modern science and superstitions work in completely opposite ways.

Superstitions are irrational and baseless beliefs without any scientific basis. Some people try to give scientific twists to them using ancient and pseudo-science. These things don’t accept challenges, criticize falsifying logic, and ignore scientific methodology.

Science strictly sticks to modern scientific methodology. It accepts challenges and improves itself by falsification and constant verification.

Oh, yes, some scientists might follow baseless beliefs because of inadequate scientific training especially in critical thinking.

Therefore, being a scientist is a state of mind, not a profession.

Get this right: Individual opinions and beliefs have no place in science. They don’t come under the heading science. Don’t equate a scientists’ stupid belief with science.

Science never gives birth to superstitions. Period.

Then the conversation took this turn...

Student: I agree with your point but slightly disagree when I see science did believe on supersticious theory of evolution, when it was still a theory with having equal evidences of Not A Evolution based Living Being Earth.

Krishna: 

Evolution is not supersticious. It is based on solid science. The evidence is before your eyes. Why do you take different flu shots each time you get a new strain of virus?

More proof:

Convergent evolution before your eyes!

Ah! Another evolution episode before your own eyes!

New Lizard Shows Evolution’s Predictability | Quanta Magazine

Intense Natural Selection in a Population of Darwin's Finches (Geos...

Evolution retraces its steps to advance

Scientists first form a theory based on their preliminary observations. Then they go out to prove it. It is not a superstition or baseless belief. It is ‘informed imagination’ or ‘educated guess work’.

Get that right first.

Scientists first form a theory based on their preliminary observations. It is the best explanation based on the current evidence. Then they go out to prove it. It is not a superstition or baseless belief. It is ‘informed imagination’ or ‘educated guess work’.

Moreover, a theory is usually backed by maths, data, serious observations, and creative connections of a scientific mind. And scientists very well know they could be wrong and would be very well prepared to accept the 'falsification challenge' unlike a superstitious mind.

A theory can grow with every new piece of evidence it explains. In other words, a theory can explain far more than the phenomenon it originally was proposed to explain. Theories are accepted with higher and higher confidence ... but never called "proven." Science *starts* with the assumption that we can never, ever "prove" anything absolutely true. All we can do it find the best explanation based on the current evidence.

This is really, really important point because dishonest people try to mislead non-scientists into thinking that all theories are either "proven" or "not proven" (there is no in-between) ... and therefore to lump "not proven" theories in with "false" theories. This completely misunderstands science!

Anybody who ever uses the phrase "just a theory" in science is under the spell of that misunderstanding about what "theory" means in science.

Be careful with just copy-pasting something from a dictionary. In both of those definitions, it is only part that applies to the use of the words 'hypothesis' and 'theory' *IN SCIENCE*. The other definitions will just get you confused if you apply them to what scientists call 'hypothesis' or 'theory' ... and there are too many dishonest anti-science people in the world willing to exploit that misconception to confuse you.

To emphasize it once again...

A hypothesis is an attempt to explain phenomena. It is a proposal, an educated guess used to explain something. A theory is the result of testing a hypothesis and developing an explanation that is taken to be true about a phenomena. A theory replaces the hypothesis.

So, a person might make an observation and immediately form a hypothesis about why something happens the way it does. He or she then tests the hypothesis and eventually develops a theory. A hypothesis can be right or wrong, but a theory is supposed to be true based upon the scientific method. So, when a hypothesis has been verified to be true, it becomes a theory.

Then with added evidence, a theory either becomes a 'fact of science' or a falsified theory.

You will never have all this with an irrational superstition.

Baseless beliefs Vs informed imagination (or educated guessing)

Student: Thanks for patiently reading and replying my comments.

As I already said, I accept your point of view, but my point was Darwin did overlooked some undeniable facts or may be due to he was not enabled with the tools and archeological information that current world now has. Like metallic nuts and screws moulded inside rocks found some couple of hundred feets below the surface, carbon dated to some million years old. Which defies Darwin theory of human existence.

Krishna: You cannot carbon date for millions of years old fossils. There is a limit. Radiocarbon dating. C (the period of time after which half of a given sample will have decayed) is about 5,730 years, the oldest dates that can be reliably measured by this process date to around 50,000 years ago, although special preparation methods occasionally permit accurate analysis of older samples.

I think you are confused.

Millions of years ago again metallurgy hasn’t been around. Metallic nuts and screws?! Where did you get this wrong information?

Please get your facts checked first. Don’t read misleading articles and stupid arguments from people who don’t have any knowledge about science and how it works and argue. 

Student: 

Well maam, I would like to rest my case here, as I find you have started assuming things on my knowledge sources. But I really respect your views and sources.

My point here is only to look out of the books as I have understood one thing very clear that whatever we read in our school or institutional books are mere science that took easy way to prove things that actually exists naturally. Till date science (that we know) has not yet created a single piece of new thing. Only science helped us putting pieces of information together to derive a new one. Hence, those registered informations in our courses books do change time and again as per new discoveries are made.

So, that is the reason why I always look out of the box.

I always want to Nicola Tesla rather than being Thomas Edison.

Note: Thanks for correction on Carbon Dating as I used that wrong word to express aging of the rock found during expedition MAI-Kosmopoisk.

Thanks for patiencefully considering my views. :)

Krishna: 

Who says scientists don’t create things? What are scientific inventions, then? Scientific inventions - like machines, generators, etc. are brought before the world using knowledge creatively. It involves high ‘creativity’ and are considered as ‘created’ sometimes from scratch.

Here are examples of how scientists ‘create’ : Scientist Craig Venter creates life for first time in laboratory sp...

Scientists Create Revolutionary Synthetic Life Form

Design and synthesis of a minimal bacterial genome

German scientists create artificial sun to develop renewable energy

Making New Elements ( how scientists create super-heavy elements)

How Can Scientists Create New Elements?

How do scientists create transgenic organisms: Transgenic animals a key tool for drug discovery and development.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

How do scientists create or manipulate biomolecules

Tools and Techniques in Biomolecular Science

Five mind-blowing things scientists have created in a lab | Latest ...

Need more examples?

Again that depends on your perception. When most of the the world says science creates things, some people might not understand or view it in the way.

Anyway your views are yours.

Q:Do mythologies and superstitions serve to distract society from progress?

Krishna: Obviously. There cannot be an alternative point of view if people fail to distinguish facts from fiction.

We respect the creative stories originated in culture and tradition. They tell us what type of societal thinking brought them out. But their purpose is limited in today’s world.

During the earlier times people saw lives with pains, tragedies and sorrows. They wanted some kind of theory which could explain all this. Therefore, they thought about explanations and theories which gradually led into beliefs. These beliefs, which were influenced by the times they lived in i.e., non-scientific reasoning, were products of constant fear of the unknown. Instead of taking on the fear head on and finding permanent solutions, they just escaped into the world of false beliefs that gave them temporary relief. In a world where people clutch at all kinds of straws to make some sense of the madness around them, truth can never be found. Instead of analyzing, examining and understanding why something happens and how it should be handled, they tried shortcuts by bringing unknown and untested factors to interpret things! These beliefs divided people because each person had a different set of experiences and those in turn influenced their explanations and the resultant beliefs based on their mental makeup and situations and not on one truth. That's how different beliefs - both religious and non-religious - originated.

Now read the consequences of these irrational beliefs and superstitions…

Bathinda shocker: Woman kills grandchildren in bid to ward off evil spirits

Parents allow exorcist to kill daughter, rape body. Wanted to appease god for gold

https://in.yahoo.com/news/parent...

How To Get a Vaccine Religious Exemption

Baby death: Parents convicted over vegetable milk diet: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-eu...

A Belgian court has given six-month suspended jail terms to the mother and father of a baby boy who died after being fed a diet of vegetable milk.

They were found guilty of causing the baby's death unintentionally.

The baby, Lucas, weighed just 4.3kg (9.5lb) when he died aged seven months, dehydrated and malnourished.

The parents, from Beveren near Antwerp, ran a health food shop and fed him for four months with milk made from oats, buckwheat, rice and quinoa.

The mother did not produce breast milk and the baby had refused infant formula.

But they don't know that a baby needs more than vegetable milk!

Read them? I am sure now you understand why we are trying to fight these evil superstitions and beliefs and ignorance.

Now decide for yourself what purpose these irrational beliefs serve. can you move forward when your thoughts and deeds drag you backwards?

Q: Do you stand up for what you believe in? How?

Krishna: Absolutely! Like this: Standing Up For Science : Showing Reasons Why Science Should Be Tru...

Q: What are your most controversial or unpopular opinions?

Krishna: Those based on scientific facts that go completely against confirmation biases of people around!

Q: Do signs of bad luck exist? What are they according to science??

Krishna: There are no real signs! It is just your perception about a situation. When your confidence levels are low and there is utter chaos around and fear in your mind, your brain tries to see certain patterns which need not be related in any away to the given situation. When you remove the negativities that paralyze your mind, you will realize this. Read this article that analyses the whole process: Science's rules are unyielding, they will not be bent in any way fo...

Q: What is the reason behind the superstition of witchcraft when science has revealed so many truths that dispel it?  

Krishna: How many people have access to scientific explanations?

How many people are interested in learning things the scientific way actually if they have access?

How many people can correctly understand the evidence that was presented to them ?

How many people can think critically about what was brought before them?

How many people have the courage to accept facts and conquer their fears?

How many people can go against the tide?

As science communicators we know the answer to the above Qs is a mere fraction !

We won’t be surprised. Because we know our numbers. 

But still we are trying like mad people to get through!

Q: What are some superstitions that need to end?

Krishna: All of them, without any exceptions. Superstitions are irrational beliefs which have no basis at all.

However, some people need them when the situations they are in are chaotic and they are low in confidence. When fear rules their world. They take some sort of temporary emotional support to tide over these things. And some even take the help of pseudo-science to authenticate them.

But when they cause more bad then good we have to get rid of them. Read these reports to find out the truth…

Bathinda shocker: Woman kills grandchildren in bid to ward off evil spirits

Parents allow exorcist to kill daughter, rape body. Wanted to appease god for gold

https://in.yahoo.com/news/parent...

How To Get a Vaccine Religious Exemption

Baby death: Parents convicted over vegetable milk diet: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-eu...

Women throws coins into engine of a plane for good luck and safe journey but in fact endangering the lives of people on board!

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/28/asia/china-coin-planes/index.html

However, strengthening the minds permanently is a solution to get rid of them.

How can you do that? Read these articles…

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

Science and superstitions : How rational thinking can make you work...

Q: Why do Indians believe in superstitions?

Q: Why do people believe in superstitions?

Krishna: Superstitions are ubiquitous. You will find them everywhere on Earth. And they are prevalent in both literate and illiterate.

During hard times, when people think they don't have any control over the situation they are in, they become more irrational and tend to see non-existent patterns in unrelated pictures.

Yes, throughout uncertain times, when stress, risk and death are involved, people tend to depend on external emotional strength and confidence boosters. And these are also the situations where people are highly vulnerable.

So people believe in superstitions, when their minds are in chaotic states, when their confidence levels are low or when they fear something. More importantly, when they cannot resolve their problems using scientific rationale.

You will get full explanation here:

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

Q: Is it condescending to tolerate superstition?  

Krishna: Yes, undoubtedly. Just don’t keep quiet if you see somebody following an irrational belief and if it is harming people around.

Explain why irrational beliefs are harmful like this…

Bathinda shocker: Woman kills grandchildren in bid to ward off evil spirits

Parents allow exorcist to kill daughter, rape body. Wanted to appease god for gold

https://in.yahoo.com/news/parent...

How To Get a Vaccine Religious Exemption

Baby death: Parents convicted over vegetable milk diet: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-eu...

Women throws coins into engine of a plane for good luck and safe journey but in fact endangering the lives of people on board!

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/28/asia/china-coin-planes/index.html

We can understand why some people need some sort of external emotional support to deal with the difficulties they are facing. But if these support systems are not the right ones, you should try to strengthen their minds like this…

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

Science and superstitions : How rational thinking can make you work...

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