Science shouldn’t animate the need for social welfare

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This is an interesting discovery: First, it’s also a bad discovery (note: there’s a difference between right/wrong and good/bad). It is useful to found specific interventions on scientific findings – such as that providing pregnant women with iron supplements in a certain window of the pregnancy could reduce the risk of anaemia by X%. However, that…… Continue reading Science shouldn’t animate the need for social welfare

On science, religion, Brahmins and a book

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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

The omicron variant and scicomm

Somewhere between the middle of India’s second major COVID-19 outbreak in March-May this year and today, a lot of us appear to have lost sight of a fact that was central to our understanding of COVID-19 outbreaks in 2020: that the only way a disease outbreak, especially of the novel coronavirus, can be truly devastating…… Continue reading The omicron variant and scicomm

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

‘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’

Pandemic: Science > politics?

By Mukunth and Madhusudhan Raman Former Union health secretary K. Sujatha Rao had a great piece in The Indian Express on January 14, whose takeaway she summarised in the following line: Science, evidence and data analytics need to be the bedrock of the roll-out policy, not politics and scoring brownie points for electoral advantages. However,…… Continue reading Pandemic: Science > politics?

A Q&A about my job and science journalism

A couple weeks ago, some students from a university in South India got in touch to ask a few questions about my job and about science communication. The correspondence was entirely over email, and I’m pasting it in full below (with permission). I’ve edited a few parts in one of two ways – to make…… Continue reading A Q&A about my job and science journalism

Trump, science denial and violence

For a few days last week, before the mail-in votes had been counted in the US, the contest between Joe Biden and Donald Trump seemed set for a nail-biting finish. In this time a lot of people expressed disappointment on Twitter that nearly half of all Americans who had voted (Trump’s share of the popular…… Continue reading Trump, science denial and violence

Nitin Gadkari, tomato chutney and blood

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…… Continue reading Nitin Gadkari, tomato chutney and blood