Science journalism and a game of Chinese whispers

(Or a game like that.)

And on the need for a better, objective game there. Laugh riot alert!

 


Of reason, scientific temper and the climate of intolerance in the country.

Edmund Burke once said: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Not quite strangely, I remember this quote from the end credits of Tears of the Sun.

The current climate in the country is one of irrationality and intolerance. The murders of Prof. Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar, and the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri all are inhumane deeds that stem from an erosion of reason and scientific temper among the perpetrators.

If the perpetrators are the ones who are guilty here, we aid and abet them by just being silent spectators to the goings on.

When our writers and filmmakers started returning their government-bestowed awards to bring attention to the growing intolerance in the country, I honestly wondered, what were we as scientists doing to make our stance known? It wasn’t a question of being an intellectual per se, it was a question of being a decent human being.

Science is the pinnacle of rational thought. As a scientist and science educator it doesn’t behoove one to turn a blind eye to the depredation of the very basis of science. Hence I took heart in reading this article talking of scientists joining hands with the country’s intelligentsia in showing their dissent to the prevailing situation in the country. It was gratifying to note that scientists like Ashoke Sen, Pushpa Bhargava, P. Balram and D. Balasubramanian had spearheaded the cause. Still heartening was the knowledge of the creation of this online petition to garner support for it. I have lent my support.

Science doesn’t flourish just in our laboratories and in our classrooms; it’s in our daily lives in the way we think. Our burettes and pipettes aren’t our only instruments in advancing science, the biggest instrument is our mind.


The view from my window.

Not channeling my inner Virginia Woolf here, but being quite literal.

Diwali is done and dusted with. Well, almost. And now comes the important and onerous task of clearing the mess the festival has wrought.

The following picture depicts the view from my window. And I post this with the cognisance that I need a better camera.

Picture 255

The ‘after’ picture. Strewn pieces of paper after the bursting of firecrackers.

There’s something to be said about small mercies. It’s reported that this rain-drenched Diwali recorded lower suspended particulate matter in the air than last year. And just when you think you should fall to your feet and thank the rain gods, something else from the same report comes careening at you to make you reconsider that obeisance; sound pollution in Chennai this year was worse than last.

Lemony Snicket is a writer I love for his wit. In his The Wide Window, he writes:

For some stories, it’s easy. The moral of ‘The Three Bears’ for instance is “Never break into someone else’s house.” The moral of ‘Snow White’ is “Never eat apples.” The moral of World War I is “Never assassinate Archduke Ferdinand.”

Hanging on to Snicket’s coat-tails, I am tempted to add the following: The moral of Diwali-induced pollution is “Never cut off anyone’s nose.”