On science, religion, Brahmins and a book

Photo by Anni Roenkae on Pexels.com

I’m partway through Renny Thomas’s new book, Science and Religion in India: Beyond Disenchantment. Its description on the Routledge page reads: This book provides an in-depth ethnographic study of science and religion in the context of South Asia, giving voice to Indian scientists and shedding valuable light on their engagement with religion. Drawing on biographical, autobiographical, historical, and…… Continue reading On science, religion, Brahmins and a book

Cat stripes and folk tales

The New York Times published an article on September 7, 2021, entitled ‘How the Cat Gets Its Stripes: It’s Genetic, Not a Folk Tale’. The article, written by James Gorman, explains how a team of scientists found that a simple genetic mechanism, involving a protein that affects embryonic tissue and a gene that inhibits the…… Continue reading Cat stripes and folk tales

The problem with rooting for science

The idea that trusting in science involves a lot of faith, instead of reason, is lost on most people. More often than not, as a science journalist, I encounter faith through extreme examples – such as the Bloch sphere (used to represent the state of a qubit) or wave functions (‘mathematical objects’ used to understand…… Continue reading The problem with rooting for science

Pseudoscientific materials and thermoeconomics

The Shycocan Corp. took out a full-page jacket ad in the Times of India on June 22 – the same day The Telegraph (UK) had a story about GBP 2,900 handbags by Gucci that exist only online, in some videogame. The Shycocan product’s science is questionable, at best, though its manufacturers have disagreed vehemently with this assessment. (Anusha Krishnan wrote a…… Continue reading Pseudoscientific materials and thermoeconomics

‘Science people’

Two of the most annoying kinds of ‘science people’ I’ve come across on social media of late: Those who perform rationalism – These people seem to know a small subset of things well and the rest on faith, and claim to know that “science can explain everything” without being able to explain it themselves. Champions…… Continue reading ‘Science people’

Poverty, psychology and pseudoscience

From the abstract of ‘Why Do People Stay Poor? Evidence on Poverty Traps from Rural Bangladesh’, November 24, 2020: There are two broad views as to why people stay poor. One emphasizes differences in fundamentals, such as ability, talent or motivation. The other, poverty traps view, differences in opportunities stemming from differences in wealth. We…… Continue reading Poverty, psychology and pseudoscience

“Enough science.”

Edit, 6.04 pm, December 15, 2020: A reader pointed out to me that The Guardian may in fact have been joking, and it has been known to be flippant on occasion. If this is really the case, I pronounce myself half-embarrassed for having been unable to spot a joke. But only half because it seems…… Continue reading “Enough science.”

Ayurveda is not a science – but what does that mean?

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…… Continue reading Ayurveda is not a science – but what does that mean?

Journalistic entropy

Say you need to store a square image 1,000 pixels wide to a side with the smallest filesize (setting aside compression techniques). The image begins with the colour #009900 on the left side and, as you move towards the right, gradually blends into #1e1e1e on the rightmost edge. Two simple storage methods come to mind:…… Continue reading Journalistic entropy

The life and death of ‘Chemical Nova’

You know how people pretend to win an Oscar or a Nobel Prize, right? Many years ago, I used to pretend to be the author of a fictitious but, blissfully unmindful of its fictitiousness, award-winning series of articles entitled Chemical Nova. In this series, I would pretend that each article discussed a particular point of…… Continue reading The life and death of ‘Chemical Nova’