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

Q: Dr. Krishna, I am a research scholar. I read almost all your articles on this site. While you say science is universal, some Indian scientists seem to differ in their opinion. They think Indian science is different and it should reflect our culture, traditions and religions. That it should follow  different  rules? What do you think?

Krishna: Which Indian scientists? 

(This person gave a few names with examples of their work in reply to my Q but I don't want to mention them here)

Science is universal. There is no Indian or American or British or Australian science. If we try to 'Indianize' science, we will be running the risk of getting banned from the world of science. Period! 

That is the reason why, several of my scientist friends from other countries told me, most of our work that doesn't adhere to the scientific method is rejected and when  the researchers here found a way to overcome that by publishing in dubious journals, scientists around the world are fighting it. 

We cannot have separate rules for us in the world of science. 

However, you can work on problems relevant to this region. For instance if you take Ayurveda and Unani medicines and test them for their authenticity, that would really help people here. 

Q: Do you think scientists should be held accountable when they create pseudo-science?

Krishna: Definitely! Nobody deserves immunity. 

Q: Are scientists willing to accept the fact that the science known today may be wrong?

Contrary to the popular prejudice that science has an answer for everything, science has built into its process that no answer should be considered certain and final -- that we must rely on the best knowledge of the moment but also embrace the uncertainty that it may be provisional. Scientists always think that theirs’ is a work in progress!

The moment we entered our labs, we were told that we should be prepared to subject our work to ‘falsifiability’.

And we accept the rules of science and strictly adhere to them.

Q: What do you get in return when you communicate science?


Q: Do our minds have quantum structures that give rise to consciousness?

Krishna:Our brains have molecules and atoms too that work at quantum levels! But minds?! No evidence of that!

Consciousness is generated by the brain. Brain activity, specifically the firing of neurons, is the phenomenon most correlated with consciousness that we know. Our experience of objects, thoughts and actions, the detailed structure of each of these, is identical to the sequential firing of various groups of neurons. The unique correlation of one phenomenon with another, in this case neural firing with the contents of consciousness, may indicate an identity of the individual. The subjective quality of consciousness is explained by neuroscience in terms of self reference. Each brain state, potential quale, must be presented to, or available to some form or structure (presumably more neural activity) representing or instantiating the self and then... there is awareness of the presented potential quale.

Q: What is paranormal activity? Do ghosts exist?

Ghosts don’t exist according to science. But still majority of the people believe in them! Want to know reasons?

If you really want to learn facts, read this article about paranormal phenomena and how science explains them …

Science and the paranormal

Q: Do you think mathematical logic is superior to philosophy logic? If you could choose, would you rather live in a world full of mathematicians, physicists or a world full of philosophers? Why?

Krishna: Aha! Know what? Whether anybody accepts it or not, we are living in a universe science based and science run which is full of maths!

Remove science based on maths, this universe ceases to exist! And that is a fact!! You have no choice in this regard!!! If you think you have, you are living in an illusory world.

Okay, you can live in an imaginative world in your mind. Many people do! And think it is real! And argue it is real.

If philosophy is the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, it would accept the facts as they are and doesn’t argue to the contrary.

Then you will not have any controversy at all!

On the contrary, if it refuses to accept the evidence based facts, it becomes flawed and naturally a substandard one has to accept its lower grade.

For me my colleagues who are trying to translate the language this universe is written in are the best company. If philosophers accept the facts, they are welcome too.

Why do they call us doctors of philosophy now too?!

All of the prominent critics of philosophy think very deeply about the source of human knowledge. That is, they are all epistemologists. The best they can say is they know more about science than (most) professional philosophers and rely on observation and experiment rather than pure thought—not that they aren’t philosophizing. Certainly, then, philosophy is not dead. That designation is more aptly applied to pure-thought variants like those that comprise cosmological metaphysics.


Q: Why does it feel so frustrating when we wish to know everything about something, or a lot about everything, but realise that it is beyond the ability of the human brain to do so?

Krishna: A wrong and non-methodical way to do that frustrates you. Not a genuine attempt.

I am one of those persons who wants to know “genuine facts” about only “important things”. What are those things? Different people will give different answers to this Q. I have marked mine long back and don’t go even a millimeter out crossing my arena and waste my time. Unimportant things  have no value in my view and not knowing anything about them has only a good effect on you.

If you want to know ‘everything about something’, that includes rubbish about it too which again wastes your time. There is lots of misinformation about everything. But I go only for established facts. How do you establish a fact? With scientific method. I read only peer-reviewed papers in high quality journals. I confirm the authenticity by going for highest grade of evidence, i.e., ‘meta-analysis’. That is the best knowledge available in the present situation. Rest all is crap.

Critical analysis of things you read/hear/see tells you what is a fact and what is fiction. You can discard fiction and retain only facts to reduce cognitive load on your brain.

By following these methods I learn genuine facts about all important things in this universe. That is a lot and it makes me very satisfied.

Q: What happens when an ignorant person is going through the process of hearing paradigm challenging information that depicts facts about something that hits at his core biases and beliefs?
Krishna: Science communicators face this problem very often.
The outcome depends largely on the person who is listening and also on the person who is talking/writing to some extent. If the person who is listening is open minded, s/he considers it. Otherwise these things might happen:
The person denies it completely. It's primitive yet effective defensive mechanism to cope with the cognitive dissonance of conflicting beliefs. 
The person accepts it because it came from an expert who has more knowledge than him/her and abandons his or her own beliefs. 
Or the person might think about it, find it to be true, but fears to shift completely away from his or her own core  values and his or her own group identity. 
Q: Most people of science believe thinking scientifically is the key to human progress, but aren't there multiple mental capacities that can be conducive to this? Wasn't there more to Einstein's mind, for example, than a high capacity for scientific thinking? 
Krishna: Multiple mental capacities help human progress, yes. But of all the capacities, scientific method is the best. I can say this with confidence because I am a polymath.

Yes, I am into several fields. I am a scientist, artist, writer, poet, designer, social activist, science communicator, run a social network. 

After experimenting with several things, thinking critically about everything, I chose scientific method as the best and most reliable one to follow.

Einstein was good at science, although made several mistakes initially, succeeded in the end. However, as a human being he ill-treated his first wife, traveled piggy-back on her work to success(1), when his paper was first peer-reviewed, got annoyed when flaws were detected in it (2)! So except for scientific thinking, Einstein’s other mind matters have nothing important to write about!

All human beings will have flawed thinking process most of the time because of their biases and irrational beliefs (3). While other methods don’t tackle them properly, it is only science that handles them with care with scientific method. Yes, there are people who try to hoodwink even scientific processes but there are checks and balances in the field of science to deal with it (4).

Theists, Scientific laws that run this universe themselves are part of what is created. Or, atheists, the universe came into existence on its own based on scientific laws. Even if both views are taken into account, we have to use only scientific methods to unravel those mysteries. There is no other way (5)! All of us are subject to the psychological forces at play when it comes to choosing between facts and beliefs when they do not mesh. In the long run, it is better to understand the way the world really is rather than how we would like it to be. You shouldn't reason backward from belief to evidence because that will subject you to numerous cognitive biases and you risk fooling yourself about the nature of reality.

Scientists have in their mind a project of being able to definitively answer the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. That's not a project to approach lightly. It involves a lot of very careful distinction between truth and falsehood, between reality and perception, between logic and epistemology and ontology.

If anything takes us exactly towards progress, it is science. You can indulge in other ways, follow other routes if you want, but when you have the best at your disposal, why choose alternatives that yield less development?

Science is the best any day and that is why it is the language this universe is written in! 

Q: What is the use of theory , like in theoretical physics, if we can't test and verify it? Like they told religious stories in earlier centuries, why imagine things and tell the world a mind's fictional analysis?

Krishna: A curious human mind can't stop imagining and explaining things! Agreed, we have limitations right now. But still we can't stop bringing forth our theories. But what demarcates science is it is based on information we already have and is also sometimes backed by mathematical modelling. In the future when the human mind grows to tackle these problems, we can test those theories. Or we can use artificial intelligence or indirect ways to confirm them.  Please don't get impatient, science is not easy!

Q: What are your thoughts on the limits of the scientific method? If some paranormal events are real, would those limits make it impossible to prove it using the scientific method alone? 

My answer to a Q on ghosts got reactions like, ‘do you think all those people who are experiencing paranormal activities are lying’?

My reply is, if people think their illusions are real, refuse to realize it, and come out of it, and fight they are true, what can you say about such people?’

A hallucination is a fact, not an error; what is erroneous is a judgment based upon it - Bertrand Russell

Some paranormal experiences are easily explainable, based on faulty activity in the brain. Reports of poltergeists invisibly moving objects seem to be consistent with damage to certain regions of the right hemisphere that are responsible for visualprocessing; certain forms of epilepsy, meanwhile, can cause the spooky feeling that a presence is stalking you close by – perhaps underlying accounts of faceless “shadow people” lurking in the surroundings.
Some of the experiences people describe as encounters with the supernatural had been reproduced in labs by stimulating certain parts of the human brain.

Science has answers to all these Qs, investigated several things people claimed and explained things in detail. Open your eyes and mind to accept them and come out of the delusions that paranormal activities are beyond science’s realm. They are not!

Science and the paranormal

How Science Explains Near Death Experiences

Q: Do you know what type of person is asking a Q, just by reading teh Q?
Krishna: There are means and ways to find out things. For instance this Q: What can 'God consciousness life' give us which 'science' cannot?

Here the person thinks religion can give something that science cannot.

And this one: Is it true that our dead ancestors will be reborn again in the same family which they had lived previously?

Here the person asking the Q wants to confirm what he believes in.

Such Qs will be asked to confirm peoples’ biases and beliefs.

How do I know? These people accept/praise only the answers that confirm their beliefs and ignore the ones that go against them. Simple. They won’t even consider the second category answers!

And if you ask Qs to really learn things or to find truth, you should consider both views, think critically about them and accept the one that provided highest form of evidence.

And I have several other ways to find things out. I don’t want to write a book about it now but would say each word you use, the way you frame the Q, the replies you give, the way you argue tells a lot about you.
Nothing escapes a sharp eye and an analytical mind.
Q: A genius comes up to you then he gives you scientific proof concerning a matter. His intellectual superiority is so vast that you can't understand his proof at all and never will. Will you believe him? 

The first lesson I learnt in science communication is … If a stupid person cannot understand an average person, the stupid person is blamed. But if an average person cannot understand a genius, the genius is blamed.

If the ‘intellectually superior’ person wants his or her ‘evidence’ accepted, it is his or her duty to see it is simplified and understood by atleast his or her colleagues in science. That is Science. Otherwise there is no meaning in saying s/he is intellectually superior.

No, I will not ‘believe’ in anything. Even if it is proposed by a very intelligent person. I will only ‘accept’ or ‘trust’ something whose evidence is very clear to me. Till now I never encountered such an intelligent person you described, though.


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