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Reliability of science-should we trust science?
Biju Dharmapalan | 01 Nov 2010

Science now a day has become the game of the rich. Scientist has become less humane. They hardly mingle with the society or have sensibility to feel of the pulse of the societal needs and the sense.

SCIENCE NOW a days has become the game of the rich. Scientist has become less humane. They hardly mingle with the society or have sensibility to feel of the pulse of the societal needs and the sense.
 
Most often the scientist sit in the air conditioned rooms and publishes papers and occasionally media conferencing. Many established research institutions spend lakhs of money to put up air conditioned facilities and the ambience of a western feeling. The net result is that the person who is supposed to mingle with people or go to field like an agricultural scientists or a conservational biologist prefers to sit in the room.
 
The way the scientists select a problem is also without sensing the ground realities. Often they are carried away by the western thoughts. They fail to prioritise the need of Indian society. Even most of the methodologies our scientists incorporate in their experiments are based on western concepts and belief.
 
The result that is being published from various laboratories often contradicts the inference of one another. This often causes confusion in the minds of general public as to whom to believe or what to believe. For example, there is still no concrete statement from the scientific community regarding the usage of coconut oil. Some say it is health hazard, others say sunflower oil is hazard.
Scientist from north will say mustard oil is the best. Which is correct?

Crores of rupees have been spend for the research on root wilt disease’s still there is still no uniformity with regard to causative organism. The disease is still rampant in many parts of Kerala.
 
Look the case of environment pollution. Everyone speak about the abetting plastic pollution, but even in seminars meant for awareness , the refreshments are served in plastic containers. In one of the seminars on awareness on plastic pollution a scientist was giving lecture on the benefits of plastic. In the same seminar, preceding speaker has given the health hazards associated with taking food articles in plastic containers. What to believe?
 
Biodiversity is another hot topic. In many research institutions across India conservation studies are going on using the public money. See what the forest department is doing. They destroy the forest and make plantations. The Ministry of Environment and Forests monitor everything!
 
Recently there was great debate in scientific community as to whether India needs genetically modified plants ( brinjal) or not. There was clear cut division among the scientists in this regard and the general public is even today confused.
 
In a recent article in Nature Ingo Potrykus stated that unjustified and impractical legal requirements are stopping genetically engineered crops from saving millions from starvation and malnutrition (Nature Vol 466 | Issue no. 7306 | 29 July 2010). Even a lay man without any scientific background understands that science and technology by themselves is not a panacea for world hunger.
 
One of the key points to be noted is that often the scientists solve a problem and create a new problem for study. It took nearly 50 years for our agricultural scientists to understand problems created by green revolution like extensive usage of pesticides and fertilizers and loss of biodiversity. Now it needs another 50 years to understand the demerits of genetically modified organism. During these periods you can see the voluminous publication from these scientists that are of no use to the society.
 
It is true that Science has provided many amenities that human kind is enjoying, but it has also created many problems in all fields of science. Scientific work should not be done to create problems rather it should be used to solve problems. Of course, with new discoveries old concepts get changed. This is unavoidable. But there are areas where a scientist can foresee the problems a new discovery can cause in the near future, e.g environmental problems.
 
This has to be avoided. For this scientist should rise above partisan level and should show commitment to the society. There are many instances where scientists try to manipulate results to satisfy the needs of politicians. If the present trend continues people will loose faith in science ultimately there will be chaos in society.