Saturday, June 04, 2005

Mela of melas


Saket 'Vulturo' Vaidya is hosting this week's Bharateeya Blog Mela (BBM). Charu will host the next one; so, leave your nominations there. Shivam Vij, who hosted it last week, tells us that there is now a BBM website.

Mela-type things are going on all over the place. I will just mention a couple of them from the science crowd here:

There is an interesting mela called Skeptics' Circle. The eighth mela was hosted by P.Z. Myers at Pharyngula. From this mela, I greatly recommend this speech posted on the Bad Astrononmy blog.

The latest edition of Tangled Bank, another science mela, covers some nice posts organized using the metaphor of a Natural History museum. Among the links here, there are two that I recommend: Andrew Jaffe's musings triggered by the latest book by Richard Feynman (isn't it amazing that his books keep appearing well after his death some 16 years ago?), and Bad Astronomy's (there he is, again!) use of 'framing' to suggest a suitable name for "someone who is not a scientist and does not practice the scientific method, but who does make extraordinary claims on little or no evidence, and discusses these claims using a veneer of scientific-sounding language".

One of the things that you will notice in both these melas is the number of posts that deal with pseudoscience (and in Bad Astronomer's words, antiscience). This is because of this uniquely American problem, created by a uniquely American brand of right wing: the Religious Right, that has been waging a relentless war to include 'creationism' (and, these days, its non-exclusive version called ID or 'intelligent design') in school science curricula. You might recall that Darwin's Origin of Species finds an honorable mention in the list of most harmful books selected by American conservatives. Therefore, scientists in the US -- and biologists, in particular -- are often in battle mode, tearing apart each new crank who comes along claiming some virtue or the other in favour of creationism or ID.

Thankfully, we don't have many such creationism-type or ID-type antiscientists here. We do have, on the other hand, our own antiscience types; and they have managed at least one notable 'achievement': they have got the teaching of astrology into the universities under the guise of 'jyotir vigyan' (astrological 'science').

Update: See this Jayant Narlikar op-ed in today's ToI, where he rails against astrology and vaastu.

5 Comments:

  1. Charu said...

    ya but where is the booktag post?

  2. uma said...

    hi.. nice post.
    is that jayant narlikar you mean?

  3. Abi said...

    Uma, thanks for pointing out the typo. It is corrected now.

  4. Andrew said...

    It's Jaffe, not Joffe (but thanks for the link!)....

  5. Abi said...

    Oops, I am truly sorry for the typo, Andrew.

    Two typos on names in the same blog post is terrible enough; it becomes worse when they are made by someone who has been a victim of such typos so often ...

    Hmm, I ought to be more careful.