Friday, September 21, 2012

Layman vs Science

      Long ago, I wrote about laymen vs research scholars, where I tried to point out how laymen view research scholars as freaks who are outliers a society. But due to some very recent developments for which I myself was a witness, I can't help writing about the issue of layman vs science.

      Who is a layman? Wikipedia says that "A layperson or layman is a person who is not an expert in a given field of knowledge. The term originally meant a member of the laity, i.e. a non-clergymen, but over the centuries shifted in definition." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Layperson).  So if I speak of a layman/layperson from the point of view of science, I can call him/her a non expert in science. But due to to the vast diversity of subjects within subjects, within subjects we all are laymen in one sense or the other. i.e I am a lay person as far as chemistry or maths is concerned. But here what I am going to talk about is, how people who are neither experts in chemistry nor in physics (infact non experts in everything except gossiping or fussing) view science in general.

      I have already demonstrated how scientists in general are viewed as freaks or out of the world, laypersons have some serious misconceptions about science. First one being science is something which doesn't affect anybody's mundane lives (who cares to learn the science of mobile phones which have become an integrable part of one's mundane life?) and is something other than life and the second but most seriously implicating one that all science is Frankenstein's monster thanks to people who can't descriminate between fiction and reality.
And they always complain that scientists never make an attempt to "educate" the layperson about science!

         Let me ask one thing? How many times have you complained that you are not being told/educated about/in science? How many times have you earnestly listened to a person explaining the science of something? I have numerous personal experiences to cite. The first one is from my 6th standard. I had gone to a maths exhibition competition at the inter school maths fare. I was supposed to demonstrate Pythagoras theorem with the help of a still model (well you actually need a right triangle to illustrate it, but this model was a right triangle with 1sq unit squares in it, to make it look fancy to attract people). During the fare , in our stall, one of my school mates who was part of the fare asked me what it was,and I started explaining it. After two sentences he looked bored and that too evidently bored and behaved as if he understood everything and I was telling something very obvious and it was a waste of time to listen to me!!!!

         That was only the beginning. Later in my life, I was to witness many many bored persons who never listened properly and behaved as if they are some kind of "know-it-alls". It is really irritating to experience this. One thing because your earnest efforts to try to make somebody understand is not being respected by them, even when they are the ones who have asked the question. Another even if they catch something from what you are saying, they never make an effort to learn the thing properly. Instead most tend to add there own figments of imagination to what they have heard and formulate completely new unscientific theories about science!!! If any of the scientists (say Newton or Einstein heard any of these theories, they would commit suicide). If science was so simple to formulate nobody had to go to schools or any educational institutes to get educated! But as we all know, we go to schools to get educated. So science is not that trivial but not understandable. If science were beyond understanding, none of us who learned/learn science would have passed/will pass any courses we took/take!

 There is an even bigger irony. Everybody send their children to learn science group in school (so that they can become engineers and doctors in future).Don't you  ever read your son's/daughter's text books? i won't say that you have to learn and study everything in it, but the books are anyway sitting at home, can't you just try and read and understand, when you are so particular that your children learn engineering or medicine , which definitely involve science, instead of being ignorant about science and boasting that you spent this many lakhs of rupees to get a seat for your kid. See to count lakhs, you need science (maths). So better try to understand it earnestly instead of acquiring some money and be content with it and leading a mundane life, and posing as intellectuals, thus making the blunders of blabbering gibberish to scare people who are like you.

 To be continued........................................
  


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