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 makeContinue 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 popularContinue 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 toContinue reading “Nitin Gadkari, tomato chutney and blood”

The virus beyond biology

A perfectly agreeable suggestion on first glance, especially since it provides an opportunity for a quick rebuke when faced with such conspiratorial, often xenophobic claims. But on a second or third reading, you find the problem (apart from Harari’s habitual oversimplification): insinuating that your interlocutor is an idiot is only going to have them digContinue reading “The virus beyond biology”

For coronavirus claims, there is a world between true and false

In high school, you must have learnt about Boolean algebra, possibly the most fascinating kind of algebra for its deceptive ease and simplicity. But thanks to its foundations in computer science, Boolean algebra – at least as we it learnt in school – is fixated with ‘true’ and ‘false’ states but not with the stateContinue reading “For coronavirus claims, there is a world between true and false”

A science for the non-1%

David Michaels, an epidemiologist and a former US assistant secretary of labour for occupational safety and health under Barack Obama, writes in the Boston Review: [Product defence] operations have on their payrolls—or can bring in on a moment’s notice—toxicologists, epidemiologists, biostatisticians, risk assessors, and any other professionally trained, media-savvy experts deemed necessary (economists too, especiallyContinue reading “A science for the non-1%”

Necessity and sufficiency

With apologies for recalling horrible people early in the day: I chanced upon this article quoting Lawrence Krauss talking about his friend Jeffrey Epstein from April 2011, and updated in July 2019. Excerpt (emphasis added): Renowned scientists whose research Epstein has generously funded through the years also stand by him. Professor Lawrence Krauss, a theoreticalContinue reading “Necessity and sufficiency”

A sympathetic science

If you feel the need to respond, please first make sure you have read the post in full. I posted the following tweet a short while ago: With reference to this: Which in turn was with reference to this: But a few seconds after publishing it, I deleted the tweet because I realised I didn’tContinue reading “A sympathetic science”

The rationalists’ eclipse

The annular solar eclipse over South India on December 26 provided sufficient cause for casual and/or inchoate rationalism to make a rare public appearance – rarer than the average person who had decided to stay indoors for the duration of the event thanks to superstitious beliefs. Scientists and science communicators organised or participated in publicContinue reading “The rationalists’ eclipse”

New management at Nautilus

When an email landed in my inbox declaring that the beleaguered science communication magazine Nautilus would be “acquired by ownership group of super-fans”, I thought it was going to become a cooperative. It was only when I read the extended statement that I realised the magazine was undergoing a transformation that wasn’t at all newContinue reading “New management at Nautilus”