The following post is an orange flag – a quieter alarm raised in anticipation of something worse that hasn’t transpired yet but is likely in the offing. Earlier today, at the end of a call with a scientist for a story, the scientist implied that my job – as science journalist – required nothing of […]

Five bowls containing different spices rest on a dark coloured table, seen from above.

This post has benefited immensely with inputs from Om Prasad. Calling something ‘not a science’ has become a pejorative, an insult. You say Ayurveda is not a science and suddenly, its loudest supporters demand to know what the problem is, what your problem is, and that you can go fuck yourself. But Ayurveda is not […]

There is a famous comedy scene in Tamil cinema, starring the actors Vadivelu and ‘Bonda’ Mani. Those who understand Tamil should skip this awkward retelling – intended for non-Tamil speakers, to the video below and the post after. Vadivelu has blood all over his face due to an injury when ‘Bonda’ Mani walks up to […]

There are some things I think about but struggle to articulate, especially in the heat of an argument with a friend. Cory Doctorow succinctly captures one such idea here: Empiricism-washing is the top ideological dirty trick of technocrats everywhere: they assert that the data “doesn’t lie,” and thus all policy prescriptions based on data can […]

At the start of 2019, The Wire Science decided to focus more on issues of science and society, and this is reflected in the year-end list of our best stories (in terms of traffic and engagement; listed below). Most of our hits don’t belong to this genre, but quite a few do – enough for us […]

An engraved bust of Alfred Nobel. Credit: sol_invictus/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Note: A condensed version of this post has been published in The Wire. Around this time last week, the world had nine new Nobel Prize winners in the sciences (physics, chemistry and medicine), all but one of whom were white and none were women. Before the announcements began, Göran Hansson, the Swede-in-chief of these prizes, […]

People at a rally in Gwalior, 2007. Credit: Ekta Parishad/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

“Don’t politicise X” has become the defence of choice for a class of scientists and public intellectuals in India whose class and caste privilege utterly blinds them to various inequities in the practice of science – as privilege is wont to do – and who labour with the presumption that these inequities, should they miraculously […]

My report about ISRO’s ’90-95%’ success claim vis-à-vis Chandrayaan 2 had precisely three kinds of response, split 49%, 49% and 2%. One 49% group went like this: The other 49% went like this: The remainder, which constituted meaningful engagement, was virtually residual. To add to this, K. Sivan has brought a new thing about him […]

This image of Mars was taken in October 24, with MOM taking advantage of its elliptical orbit to capture the planet’s breadth. Credit: ISRO

This review assumes Tanul Thakur’s review as a preamble. There’s the argument that ISRO isn’t doing much by way of public outreach and trust in the media is at a low, and for many people – more than the most reliable sections of the media can possibly cover – Bollywood’s Mission Mangal could be the […]

Note: Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his cell on August 10, 2019. The following post was written before news of his death emerged. In 2016, I attended a talk by a not-unknown environmental activist in Chennai (not Nityanand Jayaraman, before you ask) who had spent many years stitching together community efforts to restore water bodies […]

Credit: mwewering/pixabay

Remember that paper about cognitive flexibility and nationalism? The one that said people who are more nationalistic in their politics tend to have lower cognitive flexibility? I’d blogged about it here. I hadn’t read the study’s paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, because I didn’t think I had to to be able to […]

Nature India ran a feature on March 21 about three Indian astrophysicists who had contributed to the European Space Agency’s Planck mission that studied the universe’s CMBR, etc. I was wary even before I started to read it. Why? Because of that first farce in July, 2012, that’s why. That was when many Indians called for the ‘boson’ […]