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

                                                                     Interactive science series

Q: Despite people of science like you working relentlessly for so many years to educate people, why do people still follow superstitions, myths, misconceptions, and irrational things?

Q: Why do people still believe in irrational things despite science proving them wrong?

Krishna: How many people will have access to education? Even those who are fortunate enough to have access to it, how many people are really interested in learning things? Even if they read/listen to what we say, how many people can process the information in the right way?

 Even if they can process it in the way it should be done and understood what we say, how many people can come out of the conditioning of minds, swim across the tide, go against their groups or loved ones and fight for facts, data and truth? How many people can follow the scientific way of life?  

Very few. Change can happen but it takes time as it is a very slow process. 

Scientific illiteracy:

When corrections fail:

A group of Dartmouth researchers have studied the problem of the so-called "backfire effect," which is defined as the effect in which "corrections actually increase misperceptions among the group in question." According to them... people typically receive corrective information within “objective” news reports pitting two sides of an argument against each other, which is significantly more ambiguous than receiving a correct answer from an omniscient source. In such cases, citizens are likely to resist or reject arguments and evidence contradicting their opinions – a view that is consistent with a wide array of research. 

So when people read a news story that presents both sides of an issue, they simply pick the side they happen to agree with and it reinforces our viewpoint. But what of those individuals who don't simply resist challenges to their views, but who actually come to hold their original opinion even more strongly?

The authors describe the "backfire effect" as a possible result of

the process by which people counterargue preference-incongruent information and bolster their preexisting views. If people counterargue unwelcome information vigorously enough, they may end up with 'more attitudinally congruent information in mind than before the debate,' which in turn leads them to report opinions that are more extreme than they otherwise would have had."

Also cognitive dissonance, or the uncomfortable tension that comes from holding two conflicting thoughts simultaneously plays a role and makes people reject things that don't make them comfortable processing them. Then people spin-doctor facts to fit preconceived beliefs to reduce dissonance.

Why people still stick to old views despite scientists' explanations against them:

Motivational reasoning:

Most people are extremely attached  to their beliefs. The clinging is too high that their minds get shut by beliefs. There is no space for rationality, intuition or open inquiry. 

When biases and emotions rule your mind, no amount of science or logic is going to help. Because you do motivational reasoning not a neutral one like science demands. There is a constant  unconscious struggle to prove to the world that "I'am right and you are mistaken". Until people rid themselves of their biases and emotions, and willingly accept to do critical thinking, our struggle continues. 

“Science denial” link to a growing body of work about human cognitive limits that can be traced, in part, to the wonderful set of studies carried out by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, starting in the 1970s, on judgment under uncertainty. These established that the heuristics most humans readily use to make sense of the world on a daily basis also introduce significant biases into our understanding of the world. Kahneman  eventually won a Nobel prize for this line of research. If people are naturally limited and biased in their abilities to see and assess the probabilistic constitution of many of the decisions that they face, it is only a short step to ask if they are, as a matter of evolutionary cognitive development, similarly limited in their more general capacity to think scientifically. 

According to psychologists, there is a fundamental disconnect between the cognitive abilities of individual humans and the cognitive demands of modern society. And societies are made of human beings. Their inadequacies reflect on the societies we live in.

We have to fight so many things :). But our efforts continue despite the difficulty. 

However, the messages and mail I get  show that people slowly are trying to respond positively, understand  and analyse what I say and some are even agreeing with me totally. 

I am happy with the results.

Q: How did great scientists maintain curiosity regarding their goals and achieved greater heights?  

Krishna: Science/knowledge will have a true scientist in its total grip. It is a state of mind, once achieved, you cannot escape from. You eat, drink, sleep, breathe, talk, read, listen and live science. Outside world hardly exists when you reach this stage. You will be drunk on science, fully addicted to it.

Many of the Nobel laureates may be advanced in age, but if you watch them doing their work still, it is obvious that they also have an extraordinary ability to convey their passion for science with clarity, enthusiasm, and high levels of energy (you can read about one such scientist who is ninety but still working like mad to find solutions to several problems we face here . And read an inspirational story about a 102 year old scientist Dr. David Goodall- australias-oldest-working-scientist-wins-battle-keep-working - who keeps working passionately despite his age and health concerns!

Yes, Passion for science is irreversible and non-negotiable. You have to become a scientist to really understand one! :)

Q: Does science require faith?

Krishna: Full trust in scientific methodology, yes. Blind faith, no!

Q: (Based on the above answer) - I wonder what is the difference between full trust and blind faith?

Q: What do you think if one believes in “Physicist (Scientist) first, Indian later” ?  

Krishna: When you become a true scientist, all the boundaries disappear because you see universal nature of science.

Any person who has seen how the scientific rules are followed universally in a given set of conditions, and understood its beauty can never think in local terms and can never come under the influence of artificially created races, castes, groups, communities or citizenships. He sees all the living beings as his own images - following universal rules of life and as citizens of this universe.

If a scientist still acts in a biased manner despite his scientific background, I feel the person didn’t understand science properly and that he couldn’t overcome his cultural conditioning of mind with his scientific temper!

The beauty of Science is it doesn’t become Indian or American or British or Australian or French or Earth’s or Mars’s. It is universal and remains that way forever! 

Q: Can the accuracy of knowledge in science decrease over time?  

Krishna: On the contrary, it increases with each new experiment, observation, result, conclusion and evidence. As new data arrives, either your old theory is busted or confirmed or at least your knowledge about the problem increases to make more inroads into the field. 

Q:Which medications are poison when taken with wine?  

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.

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

Q: What is the scientific reason behind wearing nose studs?

Krishna: None, whatsoever! The reasons people give are based on pseudo-science, not real science. These are the reasons they give...

  • Nose piercing can control the respiratory problems, fits, hearing problems and blood pressure.
  • This is a breath regularize to eliminate the poison that comes out while breathing carbon.
  • The nose piercing on the left nostril is linked with the female reproductive organs. Females are likely to have fewer pains during the deliver time and at the menstrual time as the vein are pressed through the piercing. The gynecological problems can be cured.
  • The carbon that is produced during the sex can be minimized by wearing the gold or silver ornament in the nose.
  • An ophthalmologist says that it is difficult to control the women who wear the nostril ring, as this will control the brain wave length.

All untested, irrational beliefs! Yes, we have tested these.

We (four women scientists) ourselves tried to see how the nose rings can prevent respiratory diseases caused by microbes by painstakingly wearing them for six months and testing the results in our Microbiology labs a few years back just to find the fallacy of 'traditional science'. We did this to prove to its followers the truth as we didn't want to completely dismiss their arguments without testing. And we took complete care not to 'p-hack' the results.

Love Science, not its impostors!

Q: What is the use of people like me learning about science? I am interested in movies, music and sports which entertain me and make me happy. Science doesn't make me happy in any way!

Krishna: Hmmm! Do you know movies, sports and music take the help of science and technology to make you more happy? :)

Do you go to a doctor when you fall sick? Have you seen/heard about surgeons saving somebody in an operation theater? Have you heard about medical science? It saves lives! Without life you cannot even taste happiness in the first place!

Have you heard about agriculture science? It is the reason why you can have food without competing or fighting much with millions of people around for food. You cannot even exist without food!

Can you save yourself from a severe cyclone/tornado/storm  without the help of science and technology?

Can you live without your cell phone, GPS, TV, laptop, electricity, car in today's world? If your answer is 'no', you need science and technology! 

Q: How does science dispel myths?

Krishna: By testing and proving that they are not true!

You yourself can test whether myths are true or not by using strict scientific methodology or you can take the help of experts.

That is what myth busters do!

Watch Full Episodes & More! - Discovery

Watch Full Episodes & More! - Science

Q: What do you think of “self financing model,” which is said to jeopardize India's next decade of scientific progress and would also put a question mark on India's standing as a future super power or even a developed nation?  

Krishna: On Aug 9th, we marched for science. We protested against funds cut for scientific research. “Self financing” like ISRO does can work only if you are a well established organization. Others need support from the government.
Yes, it is a good idea when people are made accountable. But first you have to provide assistance and then ask people to show results. Self financing encourages applied sciences, not basic ones. It is important to balance both for science to flourish.

Q:What do you think of the people who say, "I don't believe in science" and would still use all the resources which are results of scientific discoveries/inventions and innovations?  

Krishna: Let us get this right… You cannot live in today’s world without assistance from science and technology. Period.

Do you go to a doctor when you fall sick? Have you seen/heard about surgeons saving somebody in an operation theater? Have you heard about medical science? It saves lives! Without life you cannot even taste happiness in the first place!

Have you heard about agriculture science? It is the reason why you can have food without competing or fighting much with millions of people around for food. You cannot even exist without food! Without agriculture science, millions around the world starve to death.

Can you save yourself from a severe cyclone/tornado/storm without the help of science and technology?

Can you live without your cell phone, GPS, TV, laptop, electricity, car in today's world? If your answer is 'no', you need science and technology!

Not only comforts, all your necessities now depend on science and technology. That is the reality.

Who cares what you say about science? How much you criticize science? In the end, you have to swallow your ego and take its help.

People who fail to differentiate between science and people of science think both are same and criticize it with misplaced hatred.

This universe is based on some basic, methodical rules what we call scientific principles and things like gravity and other fundamental forces run this universe. Chemical interactions - including the biological processes - are responsible for origin of life and sustaining it. Therefore, this universe itself is scientific in nature! Not trusting them is not trusting the very principles this Universe, Nature and Life are based on!

Please do not equate scientific principles this universe is connected to irrevocably with scientists and the methods they use to study them. Scientists are the people who are trying to unravel the mysteries, the language this universe is working on through the medium of science. They didn't bring these principles from nowhere. They are finding things because they exist. Our understanding of these principles of science might be weak but these concepts are the strongest forces this universe relies on. Scientists sometimes might misunderstand the language, might not use the correct procedures to study it, might mismanage the processes while dealing with their applications, but these should not become excuses to completely dismiss science. Denying fundamental scientific principles is like dismissing your own very existence or the concepts it depends on and living in an illusionary pseudo-world! Intelligent human beings cannot afford to do this!

Standing Up For Science : Showing Reasons Why Science Should Be Tru...

Q: How do you describe science in just one word?

Krishna: Unparalleled!

Q: My sister uses vaseline petroleum jelly on her lips to soften them. Is it safe when ingested?

Krishna: Petroleum jelly or Petrolatum  is a semisolid mixture of fat-based substances made from petroleum. It is considered minimally toxic when ingested in small amounts. It can cause loose or soft stool. If large quantities are ingested by children, they can choke or cough.Some symptoms caused by PJ are ... abdominal pain, coughing, diarrhea, irritation of eyes, nose, throat, and skin and shortness of breath.  It can cause damage to lungs. If a child develops severe coughing or vomiting after ingesting petroleum jelly, take her to a doctor immediately. 

Q: What is more real and important to you - feelings or facts?

Krishna: Facts! 

But then feelings are important too. So when facts drive your feelings because of your critical thinking abilities, your world becomes realistic and harmonious. 

But majority of the people don't have this luxury. The reason is that facts and data are complicated, they are often disputed, and they lead to ready conclusions only when greatly simplified. Various biases screw up your fact processing ability and make you mix up things. And people finally settle for a compromise to make peace with their minds and themselves!

Q: What are some of the most disturbing discoveries of the universe?  

Krishna: That it really is not in the way it was described in holy books.

That it was based on strict scientific principles you cannot overlook.

That the principles it was based on don’t have place for artificially created boundaries or divisional lines.

That you cannot bend the universal scientific rules with magical mantras. 

Q:What are some of the latest mind-boggling scientific theories brewing around?  

Krishna: These are my favourite ones … not the ‘theories’ though …

Quantum mechanics in life sciences.

Immunotherapy for cancer and other disease treatments


Q: Are crop circles created by aliens?

Krishna: Nope! They were created by earthlings like  Doug Bower and Dave Chorley first which were representation of a “flying saucer nest” in a wheat field in Wiltshire, England, in 1976. And the craze and myth took over.  Since then, crop circles have been reported worldwide in a multitude of crops.
People usually will be fascinated by 'planted stories' not facts. :)

Crop circles are a lens through which we can explore the nature and appeal of hoaxes. Fakes, counterfeits and forgeries are all around us in the everyday world. People’s motives for taking the unreal as real are easily discerned: we trust fakes easily! The nebulous world of the anomalous and the paranormal is even richer soil for hoaxers. A large proportion of the population believes in ghosts, angels, UFOs and ET visitations, fairies, psychokinesis and other strange phenomena. These beliefs elude scientific examination and proof. And it’s just such proof that the hoaxer brings to the table for those hungry for evidence that their beliefs are not deluded.

False evidence shown by the hoaxers are easily consumed by the general 'public hungry for the supernatural phenomenon'. Faked photographs of UFOs, Loch Ness monsters and ghosts generally fall under the heading of ostension. There is no way of checking the fakeness. So 'manufactured pictures' convince people.

Like skeptics and  critical thinkers say - the relationship between the circle-makers and those who interpret their work has become a curious symbiosis of art and artifice, deception and belief. All of which raises the question: Who’s hoaxing whom? Hmmm! If you keep believing in unscientific things and hungry for supernatural, there will be people who can feed your hunger readily and can make hay too!

Q: For me one of the saddest things we have discovered is also one of the most awe inspiring: That the beautiful stars we see in the night sky are so far away that they will never be visited. There is so much beauty out there, so much to see and to know, that are forever out of our reach… And yet, for that reason, the beauty of the stars and galaxies we see will never be polluted or destroyed by humans. Can we visit stars or other planets in the near future with the help of science and technology?

Krishna: :) living in romantic dreams? Stars are really not what they look like. You can never go near any star. You cannot live on majority of exo-planets. They might look beautiful, but they are not so beautiful actually! :) So don’t worry.

No, we cannot visit stars or exo-planets in the near future. But our planet is so beautiful and wonderful that anybody who wants to leave it for dead Mars or other planets must be  having a death wish!

Q: Is there any science behind existence of Ghosts?  

Krishna: Ghosts don’t exist, according to science.

Of course they can exist in peoples’ minds.

Find out how neuro-scientists are unleashing them hidden inside your heads in their labs…

Q: Is there any scientific reasoning behind wearing mangalsutras? And similar Qs: Is there any scientific reason why Hindu ladies wear a mangalsutra necklace? What is the scientific reason behind wearing nose studs?
Is there any scientific reason behind Brahmins wearing sacred threads?
What is the scientific reason behind wearing a saree for a marriage proposal or interview?
What is the scientific reason behind wearing black threads around the waist?
What is reason behind wearing the silver ring but forbidding golden ring according to Islam? Is there some scientific reasoning behind it?  

Krishna:  None!

There are only cultural and traditional reasons. And of course some pseudo-scientific explanations.

Why do people want ‘scientific reasons’ behind all their beliefs, customs and traditions? I get several of these questions. I think this misconception that all our traditions and customs are based on ‘science’ is being promoted by some people who don’t know the difference between real science and pseudo-science.

Don’t fall prey to these pseudo-scientific explanations. Read these articles to know more…

Love Science, not its impostors!

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

Q: Should religion be based on science?

Krishna: If any religion is based on real science, it becomes science, not religion! It ceases to exist! You don’t need one any longer in the first place!

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