Thursday, August 31, 2017

[Yasmin_discussions] STEAM to STEM: redesigning science itself ? yes says sundar sarukkai

sundar sarukkai at NIAS
Bangalore sends this in response to our provocation that maybe in
steam to stem we need to think about redesigning science itself, both
the scientific method and the social embedding of science to meet the
situations of the 21st century= both the scientific method and its
social embedding have evolved over the centuries

as sundar notes- scientists are often allergic to any idea that
science itself needs redesigning


Roger, I was very pleased to see this email you sent about the need to
redesign science and scientific method. This is a bigger problem in
India and has been so for quite some time. We are a unique country in
that our Constitution has 'scientific temper' as one of our
constitutional duties! Scientists have repeatedly misused this to save
the ordinary people from their 'blind beliefs' and 'superstition'. And
use this to ask for more funds for science. Recently some of them
organized a march for science which also recycled such uncritical
views on science. I wrote against this ideology in a national
newspaper - see
The scientists, especially those who organized the march, got furious
(expected trolls in the social media) and one of them wrote a
rejoinder in an online site called The Wire pedaling the same views.
I then wrote a response which set out the faults in that piece - see
You might also find another response to this debate useful -

As we can clearly see, many of these scientists don't read about
science - Wikipedia and dictionaries are enough for them to understand
any concepts in the non-sciences but they would not allow any
non-scientist to talk about quantum physics or relativity based on
their reading of such material. (I must also add here that there were
many scientists who did not agree either with the rationale for the
march or with the naive scientistic responses but the larger national
narrative about science continues to be at this level.) You are also
very right about the other point you raised, namely, the scientific
community's reluctance to accept the social character of science. To
try and incite a dialogue around this, I wrote an editorial for
Current Science on the sociality of science but haven't managed to get
the scientists to react - see

Glad you started this dialogue.

Thanks, sundar

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