Science Illiterate Society
MUHAMMAD MAROOF SHAH EXAMINES THE STATE OF SCIENTIFIC ATTITUDE IN OUR SOCIETY AND ARGUES WHY WE NEED TO ADOPT SCIENTIFIC METHODS IN OUR DAY TO DAY LIFE.
One of the fundamental problems that affect us collectively is lack of scientific attitude towards life’s problems in general. Corruption, immorality, wastage of human and other resources, health problems, focusing on fortifying social ego instead of working on real comforts as in our architecture and patterns of investment are all linked to our lack of scientific attitude. The attitudinal transformation demanded by science is yet to percolate to masses, although we are producing great number of science graduates. Science or science literacy may be there but little scientific attitude in the generality of masses, even teachers of science.
Focusing on our Kashmiri society to make my illustration more concrete let me point out large scale ignorance of science at gross root level. Jamaludin Afghani had taken Ulemas to task for not caring to know how the smoke disappears after putting chimney on the lamp and still using the light of the lamp for reading books. The same applies to most of us. We are, as a society, grossly ignorant about even elementary ideas and uses of science. This accounts for our numerous superstitions and our credulity. We are easily duped by charlatans and quacks in almost every field. For treatment of jaundice the symptoms of which normally disappear in a week’s time in 90% of patients we throng to local pirs and attribute miracles to them. Psychological patients are most often treated as cases of spirit possession. Witch doctors – jin and sahr pirs – are very popular. Many people take medicine without prescription from qualified doctors and ruin their health and wealth. Most of parents are unable to make use of natural intelligence in their children and are not taking help of scientific measures to make their kids intellectually smarter. We force, against the science of creativity, cramming and mugging and evaluate students in terms of memorization power which has hardly anything to do with intelligence. Masses misperceive the worth of leaders and elect wrong candidates who do almost nothing to popularize science and philosophy. Visit any shrine and we see lack of scientific temper in our community. Very few people understand what scientific method is and fewer still apply it in their lives. Many wrongly identify science with use of gadgets and fail to see that there is a science of economics or child education, for instance. Most of us lack scientific planning in preparing home budgets.
Science is used for wrong purposes by media industry. How much time is wasted in clearing jams, watching meaningless stereotype stories, treating patients of such diseases which better medical awareness could have prevented? Most of us suffer from tooth decay showing our ignorance of scientific methods of care for our teeth. Almost everybody today is a patient and there is great number of cases of psychosomatic diseases showing our inability to make use of science at ground level.
We don’t know simple lessons of psychology and that accounts for mistrust, jealousy, backbiting, recourse to black magic, conflict between Sas and Buhu, sadism in government institutions, collapse of families after marriage, anxiety to arrange lavish wazwaan and delicious lunch on rasm i- chahrum, exchange gold in marriages etc. that are endemic in our society. We are, in general, ignorant of a number of diseases of public health importance and are ever vulnerable to them. Consuming meat of the animals slaughtered outside slaughter without any antimortem and postmortem examination by the professionals amounts to poisoning ourselves. Taking leftover meat from wazwaan trami is inviting trouble as hand contact spoils it. Most of us suffer from backaches, vision problems etc. because we don’t know the basics.
Science could be used to deal with a huge number of social problems as well but we are not doing it. We rear livestock on marginal profit and are not taking full advantage of newer scientific tools. Our agriculture is not yet mechanized and human labour is wasted in doing alienating jobs. Community farming would solve the problems of cost, labour and mismanagement at one stroke. Anybody could become an investor/shareholder in such an enterprise which might better be organized by livestock banks. We would not invest in stock market, insurance companies, purchasing gold, building big structures if we had any sense of the science of economics and our traditional ethos. Given our conditions and market opportunities, investment in livestock sector is the best investment. This is also real wealth in contradistinction to investment in traditional financial institutions that are subject to uncertainties in market forces. The army of clerks could be drastically used by using science for computerization of office work. Science could be used to collect fare in our public transport to relieve conductors of great burden and we could use human resource elsewhere.
We are being exploited by priests and pseudospiritualists and even drug addicts and the insane due to our credulous imagination and lack of scientific attitude. Our ignorance of science is evidenced in our attitude towards mathematics, the queen of sciences that most of us find dry and boring. We take unbalanced diet and suffer a host of problems from obesity to hypertension. We have no clear idea of need of calories or protein on daily basis. We have record number of patients with gastric problems as we lack scientific knowledge of food habits. The fact that we relish lavish wazwaan and silently wait for hours for it is enough to prove that we have neither any sense of economics nor health nor environment nor time.
Science has been used by the developed societies to provide solution to educational, health, economic, and other problems. We are far from actualizing the potential of science for transformation of life.
We fail as teachers if a significant percentage of students fail. This is attributable to lack of scientific attitude in teaching and evaluation. Our examination system is geared for producing MAs who don’t know even the basics of their subjects, in stifling genius and promoting mediocrity. The fact that it primarily checks memory rather than intelligence and creativity means it destroys students and educational culture. Our recruitment system for teachers, especially at school level, is the most foolish system ever designed. Results speak for themselves. Few book lovers, few good noble creative personalities are created by it – they come despite rather than because of the system. Youth seek jobs rather than aim at being job providers. Corruption becomes the norm.
Communal violence is partly due to our ignorance of science of comparative religion. Very few students of Islamic studies or trained Ulama (holding degree from Madrassas) know anything about metaphysical content of Islam and the fundamentals of comparative religion, symbolism of religions and cannot defend their views before informed modern audience in contemporary idiom. How miseducated are we regarding such fundamental concepts of science as evolution needs no elaboration. Often for debate on science vs. religion/Islam betrays only the ignorance of the parties. We need massive awareness campaigns for popularization of science and scientific attitude to use science for betterment of community.
What sense does it make to make salary bills every month and employ thousands of clerks for the job when a more rational centrally controlled system of crediting salary into accounts of employees periodically could solve problem of delay, wastage of human resource and cleric rule to a large extent? Many posts in treasuries, fund offices, secretariat, department of flood (which comes once in five years and that too in select seasons only), public distribution department, police department, drivers for official vehicles – to name only few – are mere wastage of human resource and burden on exchequer and contribute only to misgovernance. Much of paper work in offices is only wastage of paper. Watching TV serials the action of which one can largely predict and that deal with perversions, prejudices and petty issues betrays our immaturity as persons. All these things show how far we are from rational scientific informed attitude towards almost everything. We need scientific literacy, not lessons in physics and chemistry but in scientific attitude and method. A nation that can afford hartals for months and even years when we calculate total hartal days in last two decades is yet to enter the kindergarten of scientific education in socioeconomic and political matters. Freedom from superstition, dogmatism, irrationalism in social and economic decisions is prerequisite of any idea of political freedom. Ignorance is the most deadly slavery from which we need to be free.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 19 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 19 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 20 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM GK MAGAZINE
‘To Be Implemented Provided People Are Interested’
Srinagar, May 19: Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Shah Geelani Saturday said the statement by a Hurriyat leader (Professor Abdul Gani Bhat) that ‘United Nations Resolutions on Kashmir were More
- Srinagar City
Admin sleeps over construction of riverside Ghat
IGNORED ARTISAN CLUSTERS!
GK CITY CORRESPONDENT
Srinagar, May 18: At a time when government is blowing trumpet of attracting tourists to old City, the Shaher-e-Khaas through measures like start of river cruise on Jhelum and giving facelift to the river More
Demand for earthen pots goes up
Jammu, May 19: With the temperature hovering around 40 degree Celsius in Jammu and its adjoining areas, demand of earthen pots is also increasing with each passing day. Shops and vendors selling pots in More