Nothing spoils your palate in the morning than watching otherwise educated youth discarding logic to embrace 'Post Truth'(see video below). It is far worse when celebrated in the national capital at the Vigyan Bhavan (Building for Science) which has historically been India's premier convention centre hosting the NAM summits, SAARC summits, national award ceremonies, etc. It is further agonizing to realize that the extent to which institutions require to be bent to allow for such views to find their way to the podium. It is not a matter of chance after all that the current ruling party has historically shown a propensity for similar 'Post-Truth'. And I blame my girlfriend for all of this. She was the one, after all, who forwarded me the video and left me seething through the day. I don't know what kind of demon decides that if they suffer, others should too.
Why seethe at it, you say? Isn't it just an anomaly? Well, I doubt you could call it an anomaly anymore. Afterall a growing section of individuals have become increasingly vocal about views that find no basis in reality. The usual construct involves 'NASA has confirmed _______' and you fill in the blank with your usual bias. And mind you here, that these are not posited as opinions or assumptions but hard facts.
The optimistic in me reasons that these individuals are not completely unhinged from the importance of endorsing their views through science; albeit only by association. But the pessimistic in me sees a person who seems incapable of running a google search to check her facts is now celebrated on the national stage. To add insult to injury, the individual is expected to earn a 'Bachelor of Science' degree sometime soon.
At this point, I am usually inclined to question the role that Indian rationalists and scientists play in educating society. For surely their role cannot be confined to their labs. Instead, for once, I have decided to have some fun and not put the burden on the scientists. I propose a challenge.
If anyone can prove 'NASA has stated that the sound of the rotation of earth is Om' to be a factual statement supported through a research article published by NASA or its scientists at a journal of repute or described on an official NASA website, I shall be offering 10000 INR (I have somehow managed to save in my account) to the first entry which successfully fulfils the above requirement. The verification of any submission shall be done periodically with initial screening by me followed by a final judgement from a current scientist at NASA if and when someone makes it beyond initial screening.
I further invite other Indian scientists to commit a similar amount and raise the prize money to make it more enticing. After all wouldn't it be nice to let others cite for a change? If nothing else, we will probably end up educating a few. You only need to pledge me the money over mail. No transfers required. As scientists, we shall simply run this by an honour code.
Submissions accepted by email to - (email to be disclosed soon). Submissions to be sent as hyperlinks to the journal website. No pdfs accepted. Journals must be Level 1 and above in the Norwegian Resgister for Scientific Journals, Series and Publishers.
Readers of this piece are requested to suggest additional statements that they would like tested in this challenge.
Published:- 10th April, 2019