Importance and Relevance of Scientific Awareness in our society – Ajish Jacob

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Author: Ajish Jacob
Company: Allianz Managed Operation Services India Pvt Ltd.

Importance and Relevance of Scientific Awareness in our society

Often people consider a ‘crossing-cat’ as a bad omen when heading to something important. If it so happens, some take an alternate route, some shouts or throw stones at the culprit and some even think of setting the agenda aside. An interesting reason  found about this practice is connected to events that used to happen time immemorial. Those days, at night people used to travel through dense and fiery forests in bullock carts with the light of lanterns. The carriage animals got past big cats like tiger, leopards, jackals foxes etc . These animals had glowing eyes and scared the bulls or horses that pulled the carts. Due to this, travelling party halted nearby to help the animals refresh themselves before they pull the carts for the long journey ahead without any stress. Travelers shared their hard experiences and told other travellers not to proceed travel while the cats crossing the roads and in the course of time changing, people forgot forest cats and took the domestic cats instead.

Interestingly in the current era,  we hardly find a tiger even if camped in the forest  for a week as the number of tigers in entire globe are in a few thousands. But our reaction to a crossing cat is still the same as our great grandfathers . This is one among the few superstitions we have. We blindly believe in baseless thoughts and practise many doctrines which are never self-analysed. Here comes the importance of being scientific.Science is not only for a few people ; but for the entire humanity and the world we live in. As most of us presume,  scientists are not aliens  with heavy-duty brains. All of us can act like scientists in their own way to be effective and practical in daily life.

The characteristics of  science is imbibed in the life of a scientifically aware or conscious person. So the fact is that, the more is the number of scientifically aligned people,  more  progressive the society is.

Science always has an objective.  It gives the ability to see and accept facts as they are, not as one might wish them to be. For being  objective, one has to take stance against his own biases, beliefs, wishes, values and preferences. Objectivity demands that one must set aside all sorts of the subjective considerations and prejudices.Scientific awareness also helps to reach a conclusion based on  data gathered through senses. Any argument is not a motherhood statement , but is based on verifiable evidence which  other observers can observe, weigh or measure and check out observation for accuracy.It can not have answers for everything ,for sure; but deals with only those questions about which verifiable evidence can be found.

It makes a person to be ethically neutral,  seeking only knowledge. How this knowledge is to be used, is determined by social or cultural values. Knowledge can be put to differing uses such as knowledge about atomic energy can be used to cure diseases or to ruin the earth on an atomic warfare.Ethical neutrality does not mean that the scientist has no values; but here it only means that he must not allow his values to distort the design and conduct of his research. Thus, scientific knowledge is value-neutral or value- free.Again any research in the field of science  follows a certain sequential procedure, an organised plan or design of research for collecting and analysis of facts about the problem under study. Generally, this plan includes a few scientific steps like hypothesis formation, collecting  facts, analysis of facts and scientific generalisation and predication.

Scientific knowledge must occur under the prescribed conditions in a reproducible way. It can be repeated under the circumstances stated anywhere and anytime. Conclusions based on casual recollec­tions are not very reliable.Scientific knowledge is precise and is not vague like some literary writing. “Thousands dies when lakhs are born” is a poetic statement , not scientific. The same in science can be expressed as  “In the country XYZ, as per  the census in year YYYY, in every 20th second, on the average, dies a man; every 10th second, on the average, an infant is born.” Precision requires giving exact number or measurement. Instead of saying “most of the people are against love marriages,” a scientifically conscious person says, “eighty five per cent people are against love marriage”.

Scientific people tend to be accurate always. A physician, like a common man, will not say that the patient has slight temperature or having very high temperature. But after measuring with the help of thermometer, he will pronounce that the patient is having 102.1 F temperature.Accuracy simply means truth or correctness of a statement or describing things in exact words as they are without jumping to unwarranted conclusions.Scientists do not merely describe the phenomena being studied, but also attempt to explain and predict as well. It is typical of social sciences that they have a far lower predictability compared to natural sciences. The most obvious reasons are the complexity of the subject matter and inadequacy at control etc.

The beautiful world we live in is in the midst of many threats. Even after claiming to be much advanced and modernized,  considerable chunk of people still live in poverty, hunger and lack of drinking water. Change in climate and global warming are other things we need to pull up socks against. We see instability in economic situation more than ever these days and even countries are becoming bankrupt. All the countries have started keeping a tab on rising international terrorism. Lack of energy resources is a concern for all the countries. Many countries believe that the world is getting congested and so are the resource available because of the enormous population. A few are terrified with a thought that a global epidemic will wipe-out  mankind. The rising conflict among many countries points finger to global peace that can be tampered anytime with the outburst of another world war. Don’t expect science to bring  tailor-made solutions for all such problems. But if people become scientifically aware, they will deep-dive into problems to contribute towards improving the current situations setting aside their prejudices and emotions.

In a typical  indian culture and environment , science has many things to offer for guiding the society forward and can take us to a different level for many of our long pending issues .  Awareness is not about in-depth knowledge; but to understand the power of science and its approach. Scientifically aware community emulate what science can bring. Their thought process is objective , verifiable, ethically neutral , reliable, precise, abstract and predictable . They look at facts and proofs before reaching conclusions. They don’t pounce upon an idea against their philosophy , but analyse logically and make up their minds.  They look at the root-cause rather than beating around the bush. The challenges in our country like maintaining cleanliness, the water treaties among the states, the socio-economic uplift of the poor, judicial usage of natural resources , non-ending violence exists among people of different divides are a few example where scientific thought process can be an X-Factor.

Scientific awareness in india is on the rise in the past decade; but not in par with the other developing countries.However, there is something for us to cheer about. As per recent survey conducted by government agencies,almost 85% of Indians feel that science is really important, it is critical for human progress and that we need to invest more in science.  A quality education system can ensure that our young citizens are being inculcated with scientific values and principles right from their early school years.

Also the act of making the right choice is extremely important in the case of scientific inventions. Any given science theory can be leveraged in a constructive or destructive manner. So putting humanity above all while being scientifically aware is imperative. Leonardo da Vinci who excelled in many scientific areas along with his skills in arts once Quoted – “Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses – especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else”. Everything in this world is inter-linked and the best comes out when people express their views, listen and opine about others thoughts seeking a scientific and humanitarian ground. So Let us envision and persevere for a society with scientific awareness and humanity going hand in hand-A society where science and humanity wins together!

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