7 January 2015

The importance of being right

How important is it to you to be right? 

When it comes to facts, it's easy to see when you are wrong. One can hardly argue that the sky is pink. Yet, during sunset, as the various pollutants in the sky diffract the rays of the sun, sometimes, just a little part of the sky can be pink.

As a scientist, it's important for me to be factually correct, at least on the subject matter which I *think* I know. It's embarrassing when I am wrong. But that's forgivable - you can't remember the right stuff all the time. I have a good memory for figures in scientific papers, authors and small details of science, so it does bother me when I can't recollect a detail properly.

Now, the difficulty in life is that people want to be morally and culturally right. The my way or highway attitude. As a girl, you should be modest and wear a dupatta with your salwar kameez kinda right. Beta, you must put a sweater for your daughter when you take her out for a walk kinda right. When you can't kiss your boyfriend in public, wait, when you can't be seen with a boy in public! Or when you start to debate that however glorious our past in philosophic thinking, we didn't have flying machines in vedic times. Poetic descriptions are not facts. 

I was reading comments on news articles about what political leaders have been saying at the Indian Science Congress and I am embarrassed. Not because it is possibly incorrect, but because scientific discussions revolve on having proof and debating hypotheses. The debate in the comments section however, was stripped of this spirit and instead replaced by judging the character or political inclination of the person making the comment. Now, this national malaise is what the Indian Science Congress should be addressing!

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