Science, Rationalism & Politics — Indian Perspective

Science, the word is so vast, so all encompassing, so provocative, that it rattles many a people’s brains. It is both wondrous, and daunting at the same time. There are all kinds of people that claim to be scientific thinkers.

While it’s true, that at some level, every person is a scientific thinker; but it’s very different from being truly a scientific thinker. Being a scientific thinker is somewhat similar to being a deconstructionist and a re-constructionist at the same time. Science is all about taking any component, breaking it down to its minutiae, and then rebuilding it up; but only after assessing as to what makes it “it”!

A lot of us — day in and day out — criticize something or the other — while hiding behind the garb of rationalism or scientific thought. We take pot shots at things, and also justify things using the same tired logic of scientific thought.

Generally, there’s a tendency to align scientific thought to tired and outdated ideologies and pick and choose areas to apply scientific thought. As long as it suits us, our propaganda, our narrative, let’s embrace scientific thought. The moment, science aligns itself to something that we all like to cock-a-snook at, or to ridicule, or to something that we or our collective mainstream narrative likes to villify, then, to hell with even scientific thought. Poof! Out it goes through the windows!

Fortunately, science is far bigger than that — for, it time and again smashes such convenient applications and systems or constructs based on such convenient application to the ground. It has the potency to reduce such occurrences to dust. Which is what makes Science so vast, and gives it that authority, that breadth and also that depth.

Take Interstellar for example… Here was a film that embraced and built scientific theories into its DNA. And yet, here was a film that had a line about love transcending time and space, and conquering all… It rubbed a lot of people, including some ambassadors/torch bearers of scientific thought cringe at that parallel or juxtaposition. For these people, science is all about cold, hard facts, logic and what not! What the fuck did a silly human emotion like Love had to do being there in a film talking about Interstellar travel, and singularities?

Take the greatest science fiction film ever — 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is a film that till date has puzzled every single person that’s watched it. This film has proved to be the single greatest piece of enigma, leaving behind even Citizen Kane’s famous “Rosebud”. What is it about 2001 that haunts people so much? Including sci-fi authors? It’s perhaps the monolith. Kubrick never gave any piece of explanation about what that monolith stands for. Even the transitions in the film feel elliptical or too weird (because it’s all too elliptical)… A monolith appears, and the evolution to the next level happens… What the fuck is that? There’s planetary alignment in the film too, as if to bridge a gap between mysticism and science… Bringing cosmology, mysticism; but separating religion from it… This was a film that for the very first time married hard science with abstract and mystical nature of science. One could call it (perhaps!) a treatise on Quantum Mechanics… It was a film that for the very first time presented progression of things, movement, and evolution as a sort of an abstracted development, not linear, not sequential, and presented some truth as unknowable, some source as unknowable, which is why, the sense of enigma. But, hang on! Unknowable, and Science — how can you even blend them in the same sentence? That’s ridiculous… Well, No! It’s not. And that’s where the beauty of science really exists, and it really dwarfs human beings’ bias and ridiculous delusion of grandeur in terms of intellect. Science is also humble.

Coming back to Interstellar… What Nolan does in the Tesseract is mind-blowing. He uses the notion of love, understands that love works because an intangible logic behind it which is called an emotional connection. He anchors this emotional connection and love to time, and memories, and lays it bare in a spatial dimension called Time. What if you have to search a historical problem in an array of time, and resolve it? You can’t do it unless you’ve an anchor using which you could navigate back to that precise moment when the problem occurred. Love is that coordinate that helps the characters move to that precise moment and manipulate the outcome. So, his notion of love being the key to unlock secrets of universe was tangential, yes; but not stupid or blasphemous.

Marxists, Liberals, Seculars, Rationalists, Agnostics, and even religious folks — they all have a very warped sense of scientific thought. They are foremost, victims of their political, religious, social, cultural affiliations… They’re in love with their affiliations so totally, that science has to be bent, broken, tweaked, and even ignored (sometimes!) to fit within their narrative. Science teaches us to be objective. But what does being objective mean? Selective selection of facts? Selective sight? Selective regard and disregard for events or happenings? Selective questioning and application? That’s where these groups are digging their own grave, and people following these groups have signed their own death warrants as well.

Because science operates in an extremely complex way. It uses network of thoughts; but also forces us to take every thing together, as well as in silo, apply context, and separate context, dismember, and reconstruct — all at the same time… It forces us to run with an idea or belief, and push it to its extreme, and see our self trapped in the outcome of that time and space with that idea operating at its extreme given every occurrence. If something doesn’t stand the test of applicability across the board, then that idea must be blended with other thoughts or ideas…

Scientific thought is complex to embrace, because it does have the power to shatter your notion of self if it’s constructed on warped beliefs and convenient ideologies… But it’s mandatory for a collective emancipation of human kind, because that’s when we can become Gods, Ancient Eastern Mysticism teaches or says.

That’s all folks!

Loony Toon

seeker, deconstructionist, raconteur