“The Universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
The scope of this blog is to take a look at the lesser known things in science. At the observations which may not fit the narrative. At the theories that don’t make sense. At new and interesting developments. At truths and world views. At the limits of understanding. At opposing views and controversies.
The intent is not to endorse any views in particular. It is to look at the evidence and explore the themes critically. Being critical does not mean being knee-jerk skeptics. This is a space to be critical but open and intellectually accepting towards anomalous observations, ideas or theories. The term Meta signifies this, be critical and skeptical of even the skeptics. Again, doing so does not mean rejecting well established views.
What you may find comfortable and appealing may bias you. But even this ‘comfort bias’ will be biased by the history you carry consciously and unconsciously.
So, I am very much in favor of being on guard and skeptical in accepting anything, including comforting skepticism.
We are all laymen to all other fields except our own. But that doesn’t usually stop us from forming coherent views of things, most of which will lie outside our area of expertise. These views are important in shaping who we are and affect not only us but everyone else too. So how do laymen come to know of things? Information filtration means we don’t normally get to know opposing views. We are very comfortable taking in ideas which neatly fit our existing narrative. Social and targeted media is especially bad in maintaining this filtered point of view. It’s an intellectual graveyard. And we’re here to dig up the buried corpses .
The intent is to look at those other sides of the coin and see how that shapes us. It is also to reflect on the processes by which we acquire knowledge. And the processes by which modern science operates and changes. It is a focus on the human element in science. What makes certain topics taboo. What leads to the marginalization of certain researchers and their ideas. What are the over-arching socio-political factors.
There is only one rule I have set and that is to be as intellectually honest and open to criticism as possible. The articles are often presented in a challenging and provocative manner to stir up our emotional attachments to opposing claims. Sometimes you may also find post on other relatively random topics which are of interest.
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Quotes are a good way to capture that underlying essence. The above quote by Neil deGrasse captures it very nicely. Here are some others:
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” – Albert Einstein
“Discovery is the ability to be puzzled by simple things.” – Noam Chomsky
“It is thus human beings who declare that a scientific theory is a law of nature – and human beings are quite often wrong.” – John Webb (Astrophysics Professor)
“The replacement of impartial reviewing by censorship will be the death of science.” – Julian Schwinger (Nobel Laureate)
“The orthodoxy of biology has corroded our culture like batter acid” – Joan Roughgarden (Evolutionary Biologist)
“To overturn orthodoxy is no easier in science than in philosophy, religion, economics, or any of the other disciplines through which we try to comprehend the world and the society in which we live.” – Ruth Hubbard (first woman to hold a tenured professorship position in biology)