Politics,Scientific-Materialism Vs Mindfulness and Science

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Why is the distinction between Science and this philosophy so little known today and what is its significance?Scientific materialism is an academic term for a Science-based dogma developed in Europe in the mid-nineteenth century primarily by German materialist philosophers including Karl Marx and their English counterparts-T.H.Huxley,and others of the same club.These men certainly didn’t all call themselves Scientific materialists.Many of them were in fact eminent scientists.These so called science promoters firmly believed that religion was bankrupt as a useful guide to truth and that physical science held the answers to all important questions.So strong was their enthusiasm for an all-embracing scientific worldview that they often allowed their hopes,dreams,and beliefs to masquerade as facts.

They were specially impressed by Darwin’s theory of natural Selection.According to their own interpretation,natural selection meant that organisms best suited to win the competition for scarce resources survived,passing on their advantageous traits to succeeding generations-Spencer’s”Survival of the fittest”.This was a biological counterpart to the impersonal,clockwork universe of classical physics.For them,the no-nonsense hard-nosed fact of this struggle for survival was the pattern behind every facet of life.Social philosophers influenced by scientific materialism created social Darwinism,the view that nations and individuals competed for economic supremacy in an area where only the “favoured races” or toughest individuals would succeed.There was no room here for any softness or idealism,and of course,such a philosophy gave at least tacit approval to war,imperialism,and racism.In like manner,Karl Marx reduced all aspects of culture to Economics.

All of this was credited to “Science”(instead of scientific materialism).Karl Marx called his philosophy “Scientific Socialism”(later on he wrote’communist manifesto’and became first leader of Communism).By studying history “scientifically” and “mathematically”,Marx scimmed away utopian and romantic notions such as culture and consciousness(although as a token gesture of goodwill he excluded creative arts and music from his theory of capitalism )leaving the bare bones of economic struggle-capital Vs labour.Similarly by appropriating the name “Darwin” in its title Social Darwinism linked itself to the prestige of a leading scientist(Charles Darwin).

So nineteenth century scientific materialists created a philosophy based on a set of beliefs,that was not arrived at scientifically ,or to put it differently,was supported by modes of inquiry that focused exclusively on material phenomena.They speculated beyond the scientific evidence in to the realm of metaphysics normally the sphere of religion,spirituality and philosophy.

According to these nineteenth century crusaders (or scientific materialists),the message of science for human society was essentially this-

Existence is purely physical-there is no other reality.The sources of this reality are the laws of nature,forces that are entirely impersonal,having no connection with the Mind of human beings,their beliefs,or values.These laws operate in isolation from any supernatural spiritual influences,all of which are illusory.Life in the universe is an accident,the outcome of mechanical interactions among complex pattern of matter and energy.The life of an individual,one’s personal history,hopes and dreams,loves and hates feelings,desires-everything-are the outcome of physical forces acting upon and within our body.Death means the utter destruction of the individual and his or her consciousness,and this too is the destiny of all life in the universe-eventually it will disappear without a trace.In short human beings live encapsulated within a vast,alien world,a universe entirely indifferent to their longings,unaware of their triumphs,mute to their sufferings.Only by facing this reality and accepting it fully can humans live rationally.

Most people today asked if this sounds familiar and where does it come from,would answer,”This is what Science tells us about life and the universe.”This we are told is what “non-believers”(atheists) accept as the truth.”

According to its proponents this view alone is an authentic picture of the universe.Anything which deviates from it is “metaphysical”,idle speculation or sheer fantasy.In this modern “scientific” world,we are given a narrow choice.Accept either scientific materialism or religious faith(which according to scientific materialists means turning your back on reality).For the strongly religious this “message of science” is so radically opposed to their beliefs and traditions that it evokes anger,the entrenchment of religious fundamentalism,cultural war,or jihad.

Wedded to classical science,scientific materialism shared in its enormous success,prestige,and influence,particularly in the nineteenth century.By the year 1900 most physicists believed that a complete understanding of the universe was a few decades away.In the words of a supremely confident lord Kelvin,”There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now–“.All the great discoveries had already been made,leaving future generations of scientists with nothing more to do than to carry out calculations to the next decimal point of accuracy.

However,scientific-materialism was about to take a fall.Overconfident and holding tightly to a dogmatic viewpoint,it was soon tripped by a tiny detail-the atom.

FALLING DOMINOS OF SCIENTIFIC MATERIALISM-

RELATIVITY FACTOR BY ALBERT EINSTEIN-

The appearance of quantum physics at the beginning of the twentieth century was only one punch to the chin of Newton’s universe. (The universe discovered by scientific materialists like Karl Marx,Charles Darwin,Newton and their special club who claimed that there is nothing left to be discovered in classical physics.That is what they thought at the end of the nineteenth century-TOE(theory of everything) or GUT(grand unified theory)-a complete understanding of the physical universe derived from Newton’s fundamental laws.) Albert Einstein introduced relativity in two stages;a special theory of relativity(how basic phenomena such as time,velocity,matter,and energy are relative and not absolute in nature)in 1905,and his general theory of relativity(on gravity as curved space-time)in 1916.In the classical universe,time and space are absolute,the same every-where.Accordingly,if astronauts were able to travel at the speed of light to a point in space twenty light-years distant from the earth,the round trip would take forty years.The clocks and calenders in their spaceship and those on earth would be perfectly in synch.When they returned to earth,all of us would be forty years older,including the astronauts.

But according to relativity,there would be a difference in the way time passed for us on earth and for our star voyagers.Here the relative motion between bodies alters not only time but size.Although the astronauts’clocks and calenders wouldn’t pass any more slowly for them,they would when compared with clocks and calenders on earth.If there were some way for us on earth to observe the clocks aboard the spaceship,they would be seen to be moving more slowly than ours.Objects on board,including the rocket itself,would appear shorter.And if our astronauts were traveling at 99% of the speed of light to a point twenty light-years from earth,when they returned,we would be forty years older,but they would have aged only 5.7 years.At that speed,time would have slowed seven times in comparison to relatively fixed position such as that of earth.

These changes in time and size happen at all relative speeds but are only noticeable at velocities nearing the speed of light(186,000 miles per second when traveling in a vacuum).This effect has been proven in the laboratory and is important in the use of particle accelerators to explore the subatomic world.The particle accelerator speeds up subatomic particles to velocities very close to the speed of light.

One of the keys to special relativity is the speed of light,believed to be the fastest velocity obtainable,and a

constant.It’s the c in the famous formula E=m.cc(that is m into c square in which E is energy and m is mass,c already explained).The revolutionary equation showed how energy and mass are interchangeable;they are different forms of the same thing.It also suggested that there is enormous energy wrapped up in the force holding the atomic nucleus together,since to determine the potential energy in an object,we are multiplying that mass by 186,000 square -34.6 billion!This relationship was the key to understand atomic fission,which led to the powerful chain reactions of nuclear reactors and atomic weapons.

The general theory of relativity presents a completely different view of gravity from that of Newton.Its foundation is not just space but space-time-the two are in unity.According to this theory,space-time is the stage whereon the entire drama of physical phenomena is enacted.For relativity the gravity exhibited by physical objects in space does not “attract” other objects.Rather,objects create a curvature in the space-time continuum in their vicinity-the more massive the object,the greater this curvature in the fabric of space-time and the wider its reach.Following the natural contours of space-time,such objects move toward the earth because that’s where the “road” bends.This makes gravity a product of the uneven shape of space-time itself,rather than a force of attraction,as Newton thought.

Albert Einstein was a believer in Divinity and despite his role in the development of quantum physics he was far from happy with it.”God doesn’t play dice.”was his reaction to quantum uncertainty.Much of last thirty years of his life was spent trying to find a classical,realistic basis underlying the proven and accurate predictions of quantum physics.For Einstein,because it couldn’t show precisely what was going on,quantum physics was “incomplete”.

Beginning in 1927,Einstein devised a series of challenges to quantum physics.Since the experimental means were not available to test them at the time,Einstein’s doubts were formulated as thought experiments dealing with quantum principles.Later,with improvements in technology,Einstein’s challenges were tested.In each case the predictions of quantum physics were confirmed.

By the 1930s it was clear to physicists that the atom,in its three-part model(clouds of electrons,neutrons and protons) was no longer adequate to describe the physical universe.The theoretical implications of quantum physics and relativity,along with new,more sensitive laboratory instruments,were rapidly complicating the atomic picture.

Whether we call it a theory of everything,the atom,or the “mind of God”,when the quest of science is defined in such terms,the game is objectivism.That’s the age-old desire for a comforting,freestanding,transcendental universe acting behind the scenes.However,can one find such a mechanism somehow isolated from the human Mind and the human condition.

If we are after some essential physical object-matter-the theory of relativity alone would place us on shaky ground.The matter we are seeking can’t be the solid stuff Newton conceived of.As we have known,depending on the position and velocity of the observer,matter varies in mass,size and duration.This applies equally to mountains,molecules,and subatomic particles.

The change everything is constantly undergoing may be too small for us to perceive in terms of mountain,but according to physics,that mountain is made up of subatomic particles,and as per relativity,their mass,size,and duration are not fixed.The earth is moving around the sun,and the sun is moving in relation to stars and galaxies.According to current theory of big bang,everything in the universe is moving away from everything else and that motion changes matter.

Matter is undermined all the more by quantum physics.Do subatomic particles exist as waves,or particles,or some indescribable thing.

Scientific materialism closed off the physical universe from non-physical influences such as God,Soul and the human MInd.Yet in quantum wave/particle experiments it is the choice of the scientific Mind to seek either a wave or a particle that determines the outcome.In the EPR(Einstein,Podolsky,and Rosen)paradox(which suggests all phenomena may be entangled),subatomic measurements,superpositions,and elsewhere,it is information that determines the physical system.The very characteristics that make data “informative” are determined by the human Mind.It is We who determine which data are relevant information and which are only background noise.This alone suggests that the Mind is an intimate participant in physical events;it is not closed off from them.Here science is approaching an all-embracing view of Mind,which has a long and influential history in Eastern philosophies.(in Vedanta philosophy described in Upanishads known as “gyan kaand”,or in Buddhist “Mindfulness”,it is Mind which is the conduit for awareness and raising Consciousness)

THE MIND OR BRAIN ?

There is a term called “black box” in science.Dictionary meaning of a black box is”Anything having a complex function that can be observed but whose inner workings are mysterious or unknown.”If we have no knowledge of electronics,then our CD player,television,and even our telephone are all black boxes.We know only that some kind of signal,say from our TV antenna or cable,enters the box at one end,then information usable by our Mind and senses exits the other.Just how this happens is a mystery.

Oddly enough,the very science that created all of these marvellous boxes has a Mega-black box of its own;the Mind.What scientific idea has ever come from anywhere else but the Mind of a scientist?Like-wise,what observation in the laboratory has been made by any other faculty than the Mind?It doesn’t take deep thinking to reach the conclusion that the most important,indeed the fundamental scientific instrument is and always has been the human Mind.That is where theories originate,products are designed,data observed-and it is the Mind that comes to scientific conclusions.So since scientists obviously need intimate knowledge of the instruments they design to aid in their explorations-telescopes,microscopes,particle accelerators,and all the rest-how is it possible that they have so long postponed a thorough examination of their own Minds?

One natural science philosopher,Rene Descartes did speculate on the nature of the Mind.Descartes believed that the Soul could act voluntarily on the body through the pineal gland,located in the central part of the brain.All the other actions of the body were mere reflexes.This view-with a nonmaterial Mind or Soul acting independently on matter(the body)-had strong influence on science for centuries to come.However,it also played an important part in delaying the appearance of scientific investigation of the Mind,given that half of Descartes’s formula,the Soul,was a metaphysical issue considered off-limits to science.

It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that science attempted a formal study of the Mind.Given the enormous influence of scientific materialism,it is not surprising that a physical approach-the study of behaviour and the brain-held sway.By the early twentieth century,nonmaterial qualities attributed to the Mind(thoughts,feelings,images,dreams,and so on)were neatly avoided by correlating them to the physical brain,with its internal physiology,and to physical behaviour.Thus,Mind was simply redefined as the brain.

It is clear that science’s attitude towards the Mind has been hampered by historical baggage.According to the dictates of its Christian background,science explored outer,objective phenomena and avoided the inner,subjective realm.Lack of self knowledge hampered scientist’s by blinding them to subjective distortions that have prejudiced the scientific enterprise.For example,is there a strict dividing line between the “inner”and “outer”?

Sigmund Freud and William James at least acknowledged the importance of subjective experience(personal interaction with various individuals for studying Consciousness) for understanding the Mind,without denying the complementary data provided by physiological studies.Thus,a complementary approach-comprising first-person contemplative explorations of the Mind,interviews with the contemplative subject,and physiological data on the activity of the brain and nervous system-holds promise for scientific exploration of the Mind.

WE ARE NOT OUR BRAIN–

By the grace of that supreme authority,you name according to your faith,the times we are living in enough research is done and it is clearly established that Mind is the main active part of our totality for focusing attention and making decisions whereas the brain receives inputs and generates the passive side of experience.Nothing is more confusing or more painful than when our brain takes over our thoughts,attacks our self worth,questions our abilities,overpowers us with cravings,or attempts to dictate our actions.

Brain is capable of sending out false,deceptive messages in an unrelenting fashion and that these unwanted thoughts and destructive urges can overrun our life.They can take us away from our true self(i.e.,our true goals and values) and cause us to live a life devoid of direction.And, as long as we remain unaware of what our brain is doing or believe that there is no way to alter how our brain functions, we are essentially powerless to live life on our terms.

The good news is that we have an ally that can help us sculpt our brain to work for us, rather than against us; the Mind.The Mind is involved in helping us constructively focus our attention.Why is this important? When we learn how to focus our attention in positive, beneficial ways, we actually rewire our brain to support those actions and habits. In this way, the Mind gives us the power to determine our actions, decide what is important(and what is not), and reassess the value or meaning of situations, people, ourself and events.

Another way to think about the difference between the Mind and the brain is this; The brain receives information from the environment, including images, verbal communications from others, emotional reactions, bodily sensations, and so on and then processes that information in an automatic and rote way. Once it processes these inputs, the brain presents the information to our conscious awareness.

This is where the Mind comes in. At this point, the Mind has the ability to determine whether it wants to focus either on that information coming from the brain or on something else. In comparison to the Mind, then, the brain is passive–it does not take a long-term, values-based approach to actions. In other words, the brain does not incorporate our true self or Wise Advocate into its processes, but merely reacts to its environment in habitual, automatic ways.

What makes the Mind unique is that it has the ability to consider many options and can weigh short-term actions against longer-term goals.In essence the Mind ensures we are following the path to achieving our goals as defined by our true self. How does the Mind align these goals and actions? By integrating the view of the Wise Advocate and using insight, awareness, morals, and values to guide our responses and empower us to make choices that are in our long-term interest. The brain, in contrast, tends to act in an automatic way that ensures momentary survival and a sense of safety. Remember Darwin? We can think of the brain as working in the survival-of-the-fittest mode–trying to ensure safety, comfort, or relief in this moment, no matter what the future costs.

When we are dealing with thoughts, emotions, and actions that are consistent with our true self(who we aspire to be),all is fine.But what if we have unhealthy or maladaptive routines programmed into those automatic neural structures and we are not aware that they are happening? For example, what if we’ve taught the brain’s habit centre to perform an action that is not good for us,like excessive drinking, taking drugs or indulging in amoral acts because it makes us feel good? These habits are then wired into our brain without us realizing it and can lead to devastating consequences.

That’s why learning how to focus our attention is so important–it’s the one variable we have power over that can change our brain. This is why, when the stakes are high, such as continuing to use a drug that is destroying our life, doing some unhealthy acts, or giving in to anxiety to the point that we avoid things that are beneficial to us, we need to engage the Wise Advocate to recruit the Mind to make important long-term decisions.

Unfortunately, many people, when in the grip of sadness,desire,anger,urges,anxiety,fear,or addiction, can not and do not make this distinction between the Mind and brain. They can’t see what is happening and tend to blindly follow the impulse-laden brain wherever it wants to take them. They accept momentary relief or pleasure at the price of future pains. It makes sense from a biological perspective–we are all wired to use the automatic, energy-efficient parts of our brain first, with the primary goal of survival or safety in that moment. But choosing momentary relief and placing our attention on an unhealthy behaviour come at a steep price because these choices can end up shaping the brain in detrimental ways.

DECEPTIVE BRAIN MESSAGES-

Any false or inaccurate thought or any unhelpful or distracting impulse,urge,or desire that takes us away from our true goals and intentions in life(i.e.,our true self).

DESIRE–

The experience of wanting to avoid something unpleasant or wanting to achieve a pleasant result.

TRUE SELF—

Living according to our true self means seeing ourselves for who we really are based on our sincere striving to embody the values and achieve the goals we truly believe in.

It includes approaching ourselves,our true emotions and needs,from a loving,caring and nurturing perspective that is consistent with how our loving inner guide(Wise Advocate)sees us.

WISE ADVOCATE—

The aspect of our attentive Mind that can see the bigger picture,including our inherent worth,capabilities,and accomplishments.

The Wise Advocate knows what we are thinking,can see the deceptive brain messages for what they are and where they come from,understands how we feel(physically,emotionally),and is aware of how destructive and unhealthy our habitual,automatic responses have been for us.

The Wise Advocate wants the best for us because it loves and cares for us,so it encourages us to value our true self and make decisions in a rational way based on what is in our overall best interest in the long term.

VETO POWER–

The ability to refuse to act on a deceptive brain message, uncomfortable sensation, or intended habitual response.

Now it becomes crystal clear that the human Mind is so pervasive,creative,and all-encompassing as to make attempts to bottle it in the small vial of scientific materialism seem ridiculous.

SCIENTIFIC MATERIALISM POSING AS SCIENCE—

Scientific materialism can’t be found in dictionaries and not on encyclopedias.That is why this powerful philosophy which has dominated scientific thinking for over a century and half,is practically unknown to the public.The main reason for this lack of knowledge is a state of confusion.Scientific materialism is usually considered as science itself.It acquires the prestige of science while avoiding scrutiny in to those areas where they differ.The influence of scientific materialism is therefore both pervasive(like science) and subtle to the extent that we are unaware of how much we are under its spell.

Imagine a teacher say, a Hindu or a Buddhist in a U.S public school class room telling their students that the story of creation in the Bible was only a myth and that the miracles attributed to god and Jesus never happened.Then suppose that in another public school a Christian teacher said that ‘reincarnation’ and ‘karma’ and ‘Buddhist’noble path were false doctrines.And in another U.S school a muslim teacher states that ‘jews’ are not God’s chosen people.In the United states with its laws of separation of church and state,it would be illegal for any teacher to make these negative assertions in a public school even if the teacher wasn’t promoting his or her own religion.However advocates of scientific materialism make all of the above claims in public schools and at the same time they promote their own belief systems.Dominated by the dogma of scientific materialism,classroom science denies without argument the miracles,worldviews and cosmologoies of universe.Yet the fact that many currently accepted scientific theories include non-physical possibilities is often overlooked or ignored.This omission betrays the open spirit of investigation that is the hallmark of true scientific inquiry.By limiting science in this way researchers are ignoring fields of inquiry that could lead to discoveries that lie beyond our present knowledge or imagination.

In capitalist countries like U.S,Europe,India or China(it is a capitalist economy although on paper communist) science gets a large percentage of national budgets.Weapons developement and Medical science research are well funded.The technological orientation requires a massive political mobilization which is often guided and influenced by university science departments and research centres.These are the voices that are listened,and for the most part these institutions toe the philosophical line of scientific materialism.

Scientific materialism permeated the Marxism of former Soviet union,and other communist countries also.Where it has undeniable links to the repression of religions,such as Christianity,Judaism and Buddhism.The result however is similar whether the pressure of conformity is harsh and stems from an oppressive government or it is a more subtle combination of economical,political and educational influences.Scientific materialism dominates.

What are the consequences of this closed-minded attitude towards spirituality and the distortion of the true spirit of scientific inquiry and many of its discoveries.

In the United States,surveys prove that majority of the population claim spiritual affiliation.Most Americans believe in impersonal supreme authority,namely God.Is it any surprise,then that many of them,when exposed to the very limited view of scientific materialism in the guise of “science” are put off?Scientific materialism tells them that their very Minds are non-existent or are nothing more than a meat.It denies that their personalities,intutions and spiritual experiences are anything more than secondary effects of the interactions of biological hardware and software.

The influence of scientific materialism on both scientists and the public was greatest during the 20th century.The modern world became known as ‘the scientific age’ as numerous discoveries transformed society from top to bottom.There were great benefits,specially in healthcare,transportation,agriculture.industrial production and communications.But the 20th century was also the period of human beings greatest inhumanity to one another as well as unprecedented degradation of the natural environment.During this century the most murderous despots in history including Stalin,Hitler and Mao Zedong were able to enlist the services of scientists in supporting their crimes against humanity.Indeed numerous scientists and engineers all over the world have applied their knowledge and ingenuity to develop weapons of mass destruction that now terrorize humanity as a whole.This is not the fault of Science.This is the handiwork of politics and politicians using scientific-materialism for their nefarious designs.Devil lies in politics and not in Science.

Many scientists abide by high ethical standards,but scientific materialism gives them no incentive to do so.A mechanical,clockwork world makes no reference to ethics or virtue.Indeed,reducing human subjectivity,the human Mind,to neural processes operating according to the laws of physics(which imply neurobiology,chemistry and so on) undermines any sense of moral responsibility.Given such an amoral background ,it is not surprising that crime,selfish attitudes and public indifference to the plight of less fortunate poor human section have come to dominate modern life.

Even in health care,the purely physical approach has drawbacks,since it often attacks the symptoms of desease,but not the cause.Moreover we do not know the specific causes of many illnesses both physical and psychological specially chronic deseases such as hypertension,chronic back pain,certain forms of cancer and many others,some of these causes may be of psychological nature requiring treatment of the mind through non-chemical means.Scientists are finding direct links between stress inflammation and desease.Traditional approaches do not always work.The discovery of dangerous side effects of pharmaceuticals is a common occurance.

The materialistic approach to medicine has led to the desire for a “quick fix”-just pop a pill and let chemicals take care of you.Drug,tobbaco and alcohol addiction follow the same logic.There may be more to psychological and physical illnesses than just chemicals but the physical bias of scientific materialism has largely marginalised alternative therapies that show promise.The slow grudging acceptance of acupuncture is just one example of this.There is also a growing public interest in herbal remedies(ayurvedic treatment) whose curative influences may take longer than manufactured pharmaceuticals but will not have many troublesome side effects as in the latest drugs.

People may now recognize to some extent the wisdom stored in spiritual traditions or have an intuitive sense that there is more to life than materialism’s bleak prospects.

As is abundantly clear that the Scientific materialism is often hand in glove with politics and faulty,tries to oppress genuine scientific approach and Spirituality.Accepting its conclusions may not be wise.Perhaps we still have access to a greater common sense than the assumption and mental habits we have inherited from this dubious dogma.

Such a viewpoint does not require a negation of science.The openminded exploratory,unbiased ideals of Science have already identified many of the non physical aspects of the world we inhabit.To live honestly and authentically with the hypothesis of Science does not mean we must give up all of our beliefs in the mysteries of the world.

Rather there is growing evidence that Science and Spirituality may complement each other-not in the sense of keeping rigidly to their traditional spheres,but in collaboration towards a wider and clearer understanding of life and the universe.

Students of Science should be encouraged to extend their quest in to the inner realm and to get to know their Minds firsthand,utilizing that knowledge to fathom the import of both Science and Spirituality.

Let the 21st century be one of cooperation between Spirituality and Science and perhaps some of the causes of the strife and misery that pervaded the 20th century can be avoided.

MINDFULNESS—-

So what is mindfulness?
Depending on the context and tradition mindfulness can mean different things to different people.This leads to many common misunderstandings,which need to be dispelled so that we can understand mindfulness correctly.

Mindfulness is an Activity,Not merely a State of Mind—
Most of us think of mindfulness as a state of Mind.This is a common misunderstanding because it’s not something we can just switch on like a TV and expect that it will remain in that state indefinitely.A more accurate way of thinking about mindfulness would be tuning into a special TV station because this analogy implies actively doing something and it requires us to pay attention.

In fact the best way to conceptualize mindfulness is as an activity and not a state of Mind or way of being.Unlike being tired,anxious or excited,we can’t simply be Mindful without effort.We don’t just fall into mindfulness or suddenly say to ourselves “oh I’ve been being mindful and didn’t realize it”,in the same way that we can passively be listening to music.

Mindfulness like any activity requires effort,vigilance and willingness,because in each moment of our life we are chosing whether to be mindful or not.And like most activities where focus and skill are involved,the more we practice,the better our abilities become.In this way mindfulness literally is a training ground for our Mind-a mental Gym where we strengthen our powers of observation and awareness so that we become more proficient at seeing what is happening in each moment of our Life.

MINDFULNESS IS AWARENESS—-

At its core mindfulness is about awareness being fully knowledgeable that something is happening right now,in the very moment.For example,if we are being mindful as we read these words,we are aware that we are reading.We are not engrossed in the details of each word,but we are aware of the process of reading as it happens.

When properly understood,mindfulness teaches us how to be in contact with our actual experience.For example if we are sitting in the sun and we feel the warmth touching our skin and clearly aware of that sensation,then we are being mindful.Similarly if we are eating something,we take the time to really notice what the food tastes like how it feels in our mouth,how the taste changes over time,and so on,we are also being mindful.

Mindfulness Includes Seeing That The Deceptive Brain Messages Are False–

We have already read about Deceptive Brain Messages,sensations and habits,which are false and they take us away from following our true goals and values in Life.We want to see with clear eyes that-

The content of the deceptive thought is not valid or true.

The urges,impulses and desires do not need to be satisfied.

We have choices beyond the narrow options our deceptive brain messages are presenting to us.

Mindfulness is Nonjudgemental and Judgemental at the same time—-

To think that mindfulness is non-judgemental is a serious mistake and it is one that we need to make sure that we do not make.When we conceptualize mindfulness as non-judgemental,it gives the impression that anything goes,that no matter what we do,mindfulness will accept whatever happens as perfectly fine and appropriate.

While it is true that some parts of mindfulness require us to suspend judgement so that we can see what is happening,including the ugly and unpleasant aspects of Life(e.g. our darker thoughts),there are places where judgement is absolutely necessary.The distinction lies in whether we are looking at and observing our thoughts or whether we are evaluating our choices and actions.We can’t control the initial thoughts,impulses,desires or cravings we have–it is impossible to do so.However we can and must choose how we will respond if we want to change our Life and how our brain works.

Therefore when we are trying to be aware of our thoughts and impulses(i.e. our deceptive brain messages) we must not judge them.We need to let them bubble up so that we can see what is there.Berating or shaming ourselves for the deceptive brain messages that arise is counter-productive and takes us away from being mindful.

The other side of the coin is our actions.Here we need to judge things in a rather aggressive way.Why?Think about what non-judgemental means when taken to its extreme-it implies that it would be okay to hurt someone or to act in a reckless manner purposely.Applied in this way,mindfulness would simply look at our actions,note them and accept them as perfectly legitimate.Clearly this is taking things too far and could be used as an excuse to act in a way that is devoid of values and morals.Mindfulness when properly understood does not dispassionately recognize all actions as equally acceptable,and nor should we,

The bottom line is–

Not to judge our initial thoughts,impulses,cravings,or desires(i.e. our deceptive brain messages and uncomfortable sensations).We have no control over their presence and it is not our fault that they are there.Let them be present and let’s notice them without acting on them.

We must judge our actions including mental ones,overanalyzing or “perfectionism”.We have control over our actions,including overthinking,and mindfulness does not give us a free pass to act recklessly or in a manner that would hurt us or others.We are responsible for what we do once the deceptive brain messages arise.

Progressive Mindfulness and Revaluing Ourselves—

VALUE-

What are the Values?We can define the Values as Internal/intrinsic qualities; personal characteristics that we are proud of,such as being loving,caring,giving,courageous,honest,smart,hardworking,industrious,a good provider,and more.We have used the word value here as an adjective,describing the qualities.

REVALUE-

To clearly see the thoughts,urges,and impulses for what they are–simply sensations caused by deceptive brain messages that are not true and have little to no value(they are something to dismiss, not to focus on)

PROGRESSIVE MINDFULNESS–

Using our Wise Advocate to gain deeper levels of mindful awareness(through experience) so that we can clearly see the bothersome feelings,urges,fears,worries,cravings,negative ideas,and thinking errors as nothing more than deceptive brain messages.

When we are using progressive mindfulness and actively revaluing,we approach our experiences and feelings as a direct object of observation.As we do this, we firmly and assertively label and strive to directly experience the sensations as nothing but deceptive brain messages.

As with other forms of mindful awareness, until we actually experience it ourselves- that deep knowing and progressive mindfulness that comes with practice- we will not fully understand what we mean.And it’s okay that we don’t, for the goal is not to know everything at once, but to slowly expand our knowledge and skills through experience and time.

The whole process is a matter of getting our foot in the door between us and the deceptive brain messages.Getting more and more time to look around within, to not be defined by it any longer.But mostly(revaluing helps us) start reacting differently to things, thinking differently about things, and having a different way of looking at something.Gradually over time, using progressive mindfulness and revaluing, we can really become the master, not only over what emotions or thoughts come up, but be the master over evaluation of anything that comes into our head or into our body.”

Let’s review this wonderful summary provided by Bhante Gunaratna that describes the goals of mindful awareness and chosing actions that are based on our true self, not the deceptive brain messages;

The deceptive brain messages are just perceptual mental habits. We learn to respond this way as a child by copying the perceptual habits of those around us. These perceptual responses are not inherent in the structure of the nervous system. The circuits are there, but this is not the only way that our mental machinery can be used. That which has been learned can be unlearned.The first step is to realize what we are doing as we are doing it, to stand back and quietly watch.(That is the goal,to be able to) learn to watch the arising of thought and perception with a feeling of serene detachment.We begin to view our own reactions to stimuli with calmness and clarity.We begin to see ourselves reacting without getting caught up in the reactions ourselves.(This is progressive mindfulness.)

WHY SCIENCE MATTERS—

We have arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements – transportation,communication,and all other industries,agriculture,medicine,education,entertainment,environment,even the key democratic institution of voting -profoundly depend upon science and technology.We have also arranged things so almost nobody understands science and technology.This is a prescription for disaster.We might get away with it for a while,but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

—CARL SAGAN

A habit of basing convictions upon evidence, and of giving to them only that degree of certainty which the evidence warrants,would,if it became general,cure most of the ills from which this world is suffering.

—-BERTRAND RUSSELL

John Holdren,President Obama’s chief science adviser explains “more and more of the public policy issues that are before us….have science and technology content.”If we are to stand a chance of containing global warming, the solutions will rely on understanding of the atmospheric effects of gases, the technologies that can generate clean energy and the psychology of behaviour change.If we are to exploit properly the advances in genetics and neuro-science to deliver better healthcare, and to spend national resources on the drugs and therapies that are most beneficial to patients, science will be central.

As a source of innovation and business ideas, science is foundation stone of growth.It is vital to the major economies of the world in food security,drugs control,forensic investigation and so on.The list of policy questions, that requires politicians to be intelligent consumers of science(not scientific materialism) is very long.

It is actually hard to think of an issue to which science is irrelevant.We need the experimental methods of science, to prove with evidence, the best tool humanity has yet developed for working out what works.Yet from the way we are governed, to the news we are fed by the media we are let down by a lack of understanding and respect for its insights and evidence.

It’s time to stop this non-sense.
We need to entrench scientific thinking more deeply into public life.What politicians think, matters less, than how they think.

Even when a challenge is so urgent that there is no time to wait for research, ministers can at least ensure that the policy solution is properly evaluated so that lessons can be learned from its successes and shortcomings.Policy decisions are not the last word(since hundreds of crores are budgeted based on policy decisions),but they are the start of experimentation that must be mined for evidence, that can be used to make better choices in future.

It’s true that we can’t study schools or prisons by setting up a controlled experiment in the laboratory, but neither can we recreate the Big Bang or rerun human evolution in a test tube to watch how they happened.Politics asks tough questions of our leaders but science provides a great tool for answering them.If it can help us to understand the first micro-seconds of creation and the descent of humans, the scientific method can surely improve understanding of how best to tackle the pressing social issues of our time.Teaching techniques,sentencing policies,policing strategies,all could be investigated with this tool to establish whether they work.

This value of science is however, seldom grasped either by the ministers,advisers and officials who take the decisions that shape everybody’s lives or by opinion-formers in the media and think tanks to whom they typically listen.

Politics suffers accordingly.Too few of our leaders understand either the conditions science needs to thrive or the powerful contribution it can make to policy-making.They see science as an optional extra, to be used when it suits an agenda and to be ignored when it does not.And they do this in large part because we let them.

Science is not a voting issue and politics is now simply a votebank politics in all democratic world of capitalism and scientific materialism.Abusing and undervaluing science carries no political cost.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Fortunately, there is an increasingly vibrant community out there with the potential to form that constituency and to create that political cost.We are talking about vast section of science,medical science,engineering science,computer science and technology students and practitioners of these fields.If we want to get rid off money and muscle power politics then we have to challenge this corrupt system of public life,

In India the norm in politics was law degrees from London,then economics from Harvard,Bill Clinton telling the world ‘it’s all money honey’, our prime minister also following the suite and brings economic liberalization with the help of his Harward economist and our present prime minister Dr. Manmohansingh.But now the norm is changing and it is now the age of science in which scientists can run the show, without them the show is getting over.Poorly served for years by the main stream media and entertainment,we are demanding and getting, more and more attention in popular culture although not so much in politics.IItians and medicos,IT professionals are doing their bit to make the science popular in India.

Online Social networking has allowed science professionals to find more people of like mind, and to meet each other in flesh and form real communities.It does not matter how old we are(15 to 75) we can take part on equal footing.There is a huge community out there with a strong affinity for things scientific and an interest in contributing to the world.

The Science Scene- or may be we should call it the rational thought Scene- is definitely developing.It’s cool these days to actually think.Our optimistic hope is that it will become very cool to really think about things….rather than do reactive bullshit based on no knowledge.

Let’s create a political cost for failing science.Politics has had it too easy for too long.Its time for a Science-revolution.

There are 540 MPs in the Indian parliament, most of them have business,law or journalism background and they have chosen these fields because their ancestors also had same background and politics being their side business. since science professionals considered politics something below their dignity and without any work-ethics and middle class never considered it as a profession, so they opted out of it. But this has cost the nation very heavily and today when the nation and the world at large needs them in politics, there are hardly any faces from science in politics. One side of majority of politicians have completely destroyed the ethics and culture from generation to generation and other side of scientists, engineers, Doctors, are still harping on the ethical side from generation to generation. Are they waiting for somebody like Hitler to rule the nation and force them to revolt against the system?

Even in other democracies the picture is bleak such as in US, and UK politicians with science background are not even 1%. Compared to this China’s senior leadership more than 50% is dominated by engineers and scientists.

The background from which the political classes are drawn, scientific skills are missing very often, which contributes to a failure of leadership without an instinctive appreciation for how science works and the circumstances in which it thrives politicians let it down time and again.

We deserve a better class of politicians with a better appreciation of science. We’ll get them, as they begin to realise that they have to engage properly with science to keep their science constituents happy and that doing so might win them votes. We can help politicians to help science, to give it the support it needs. In time we should start to address a further failing of modern politics due to its reluctance to exploit science to design policies that are fit for purpose.

WHY SCIENCE MATTERS TO GOVERNMENT–

What politicians want is not evidence-based policy, but policy-based evidence.

The degree to which pesticide residues potentially damage health is a scientific question which science can answer.Science can also help to explain whether the higher cost of vegetables that would result if pesticides were more strictly controlled or banned would lead to better or worse overall public health.It can’t however decide how society should balance risks and benefits, that is a political question for elected representatives to take.

Science can tell us how requiring children to present an immunization certificate to attend primary school as happens in west, would improve herd immunity but not whether this is an acceptable infringement of parental rights.On drug control, global warming, embryonic stem cell research and abortion, science can describe the challenges and the likely effects of the possible solutions; The value judgements of democratic societies however also matter.

Ministers are not obliged to make every decision according to the evidence presented to them by scientists and nothing else.They should however ensure that they do take scientific advice on questions to which it is pertinent, and there are few matters of public policy to which it is not. Evidence isn’t usually sufficient for sound policy-making, but it is nearly always necessary.

Advice from scientists with relevant expertise should be sought and considered in good faith before decisions are made, rather than sprayed-on afterwards. Advisers should not be admonished, silenced or sacked for explaining their conclusions in public. If ministers decide to overrule expert advice, as they are entitled to do and often will, they should explain their reasons.

Above all, politicians and civil servants should not be allowed to get away with laying claim to evidence-based policy when decisions have actually been taken by other means.

A better appreciation of science and its methods among politicians would breed a healthier respect for the evidence, which is devalued with every act of abuse. It might also start to persuade more politicians that they need robust, high quality evidence at an early stage and that they could draw more on the methods of science to devise better policies that really deliver.

There isn’t just a need to use the solid evidence by government, but also the way it is collected needs to improve as well. We also need to make the case that the structure of government itself must embed these values in to policy-making.

Every UK government department now has a chief scientific adviser. Our Indian politics and government due to our colonial past, follow mostly UK pattern, even Indian Standard Specifications(IS code) is vastly influenced by British code and it is highly unlikely that we will discard this pattern completely, since we Indians have accepted English as our working language, then be it. Now the need of the hour is that as the world is progressing and science is taking the centre-stage, we should also adapt to the new developments. Why can’t we appoint scientific advisers(who should have science based educational background) to central as well as state governments departments.

Chief Scientific advisers need to have policy sign-off powers, just as chief economists sign-off every policy as economically viable, and lawyers look at the legal implications, someone needs to take a look at how the evidence has been used.

This wouldn’t mean replacing political choices with scientific or technocratic or undemocratic ones. Ministers would remain incharge, and at liberty to overrule their advisers. But such a system would at least ensure that science and evidence are properly considered, even if the other factors ultimately out weigh them.

The civil service and the scientific world rarely have much experience of one another, which benefits neither. Officials are unaware of research that might be relevant to their fields, and scientists uncertain how best to offer their insights to those in charge of developing policies. There is a need for more movement between the academic, industrial, and civil service section and exchange of ideas have much to contribute here.

WHY SCIENCE MATTERS IN THE MEDIA—

Bloggers can provide valuable rejoinders to media failures.They may reach initially fewer people than the original bad journalism, but when worried people take to google to investigate further, they will find an alternative point of view. Occasionally such posts can go viral in their own right, reaching surprisingly large audiences as they are retweeted, ‘liked’ on facebook. Increasing numbers of people use these sites as their chief sources of information, relying on people they respect to recommend stories of interest whether they come from newspapers, broadcasters or blogs. It is sometimes possible to build influence by circumventing the mainstream media. Nowhere is it written that traditional news organizations or media barons must be forever the only reliable purveyors of news.

The scientist’s approach to blogging is also setting new standards for transparency that the better professional science journalists are starting to follow. Science demands that sources are properly credited.

The scientific community has been slow to appreciate the importance of effective public relations.Too many scientists remain unwilling to make themselves available to the media, to promote their work, or to respond quickly and saliently when scientific issues hit the headlines. This reluctance is sometimes rooted in a feeling that media and public engagement is a time-consuming chore that distracts from the more important business of doing research.

If science is to get the public profile it deserves, everybody who works to communicate science, from PHD student who blogs to celebrity scientist, engineer or medico, should be supported and valued so long as they set things right.

For scientists who would be agents of change, communications is not an add-on, but it is central to their enterprise.

WHY SCIENCE MATTERS TO THE ECONOMY—

In the US, president Obama’s stimulus package included more than $100 billion for science, and his administration has been clear about its desire to enhance science funding on a more regular basis.The white House’s 2011 budget proposed a 5.9% increase for research in an otherwise flat settlement. Australia increased spending on science by 25% in 2009-10. Canada found an extra c$32 million for its three main research agencies in 2010-11.

Emerging economies too have noticed the potential of science-funding. They want a piece of it, and are committing vast sums to science and research accordingly. For India US and Europe were always a challenge and now there is an even bigger challenge in Asia.The Asian giant who is emerging as a superpower and challenging even US and Europe in scientific advancement and special allocation of funds in the field of science.

Since 1999 China has increased its spending on science by 20% every year and now spends $100 billion a year on research, more than 30 times as much as UK. By 2020, it intends to spend 2.5% of its GDP on science, which will mean an annual science budget of $300 billion. China, with engineers and scientists well represented among its political leadership, actually seems serious about reaching it.

A Royal society report into international science in march 2011, noted that China is fast emerging as the next research Superpower, which can soon be expected to match and even outstrip the achievements of traditional scientific nations. Since 1981, the number of peer-reviwed papers produced by China has increased 64-fold, and it is well on target to become the leading producer of scientific publications within the decade, perhaps in 2013 itself.

On current trends, China will begin to file more patent applications than the US, the current world leader, by 2015.

Public spending on science would be worthwhile even if it were a true luxury with no economic payoff. The pursuit of understanding for its own sake is a celebration of human curiosity and supporting it is a legitimate function of the state. What the evidence increasingly shows, though, is that public funding of research is not a luxury at all. it’s actually one of the best uses to which taxpayer’s money can be put, an investment that is all but guaranteed to garner a sizable economic return. Science should be getting more public funding, not less.

Why then has this message failed to resonate sufficiently with politicians ?

The answer lies chiefly in the wider failings of the political classes’ understanding and experience of science.

science also struggles in intense competition of public funds because it is perceived as something that can be cut without political penalty, while governments that spend more on research can expect little credit. Even politicians who realize that science funding pays off handsomely in the long run know there is little chance they will be around to make political capital when that happens. The timescales of science work against the sort of quick returns that politicians can use to their advantage.

India has to realize the challenge posed by China in the field of research in science.At present India is nowhere near China in this field and Indian government’s bragging about surpassing China in near future is just a hollow claim without substance. Why are we not calling for a steep rise in science funding ? Why aren’t we challenging Indian politicians to revise the research budget, if they are serious about encouraging innovation as a foundation of growth? Thinking big like this could also have tactical advantages. Spending could legitimately claim to be rebalancing the national economy with an eye on the future. Politicians are forever in search of vision and narrative. Scientists can provide these ready-made.

Science is one of the activities that governments should always support, regardless of their political complexion. It contributes to improvements in health, the environment and quality of life. It creates new businesses, while attracting and retaining established ones. There are benefits with cross-party appeal.

WHY SCIENCE MATTERS IN COURTS—-

Politicians who take charge of justice systems have a disconcerting habit of ignoring scientific evidence that they find inconvenient. And if scientists complain, they like to shoot the messenger.

If we can embarrass ministers and civil servants often enough about their refusal to use the best tools available to evaluate policy initiatives, perhaps they will start to realize that generating better evidence is neither impossible nor unhelpful.

The deaf ear that politicians turn to science is specially unfortunate for drugs policy, because science has so much to contribute. The principal justification for infringing individual liberty to control access to certain substances is to limit the harm that they cause, both to the people who take them and to society at large. The level of harm that different drugs inflict, and the best approach to minimizing this is difficult to determine and there is plenty of room for honest disagreement. But it becomes close to impossible if the findings and methods of science are not given the weight they deserve.

Scientific evidence has proved the value of harm reduction. In most European countries, harm reduction for heroin has become government policy. Randomized trials show that prescribing heroin to long-term addicts significantly improves both health and social outcomes. Many addicts on such programmes are able to hold down jobs. Criminality is also much reduced, as users no longer need to fund an expensive habit. This makes such programmes cost effective since their expense is more than compensated for by lower levels of crime.

When compared to legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, there is little doubt that cannabis is less harmful. Ther is no solid evidence as to whether the legal status of the drug effectively deters it’s use. On the contrary it spreads more like a wildfire when taken illegally.

A botched ministerial decision undertaken without proper scientific advice threatens the quality of forensic evidence available to the police and courts.(Remember the Jessica Lal murder trial, in which even bullets were changed with the help of police officials and forensic evidences were manipulated ).

The criminal justice system should by rights have much in common with science. Both are in the business of evaluating and testing evidence, and weighing and minimizing uncertainty. Juries are supposed to find suspect guilty only when a case is proven beyond reasonable doubt. A similarly demanding standard might be said to apply to scientific hypothesis that acquire the status of theories. Science too has much to contribute to justice. The forensic evidence it can provide is increasingly important to convicting the guilty and exonerating the innocent.

Yet neither the police officers, judges, lawyers who administer justice, nor the politicians who frame the laws and sentencing regimes they work with, are reliably intelligent consumers of science. They are apt both to place excessive weight on scientific evidence that would not survive proper scrutiny, and to cast aside more robust research that challenges prejudices and preconception.

The result can be appalling miscarriage of justice.

Politicians claim all the time that their decisions on drug-classification have an important influence on the social acceptability of drug use, and the tougher restrictions have a deterrent effect. Yet this has barely been researched. There is no evidence that classification makes any difference at all. It has never been studied. It’s an act of faith. The fundamental question is; do these laws do what they are supposed to do ? But we don’t ask it.

The effectiveness of drug deterrence is not the only question in criminal justice that might become more solvable if politicians were to bother to use the methods of science to study it. Ministers are fond of following ideology and intuition when embarking on new initiatives, but much less keen on evaluating them properly to find out whether they really work. Their habits are no different where crime and punishment are concerned.

WHY SCIENCE MATTERS TO EDUCATION–

‘Education is about enhancing learning, and neuro-science is about understanding the mental processes involved in learning.’ This common ground suggests a future in which educational practice can be transformed by science, just as medical practice was transformed by science about a century ago.

When people are asked what they consider to be the most important issue on the political agenda, education generally ranks second only to health. It is understood and accepted by politicians of all parties that providing universal access to first-class medical care and providing excellent state schools that offer opportunity to all are among the core function of the government.

Politicians and civil servants tend to overlook the importance of experiments(Random trials) on education. They see education as a political problem to which the solutions are generally political and ideological, not evidence-based and technical.

WHY SCIENCE MATTERS IN HEALTH CARE—

WHO’s evidence-based guidelines on treatment of tuberculosis have no place for homeopathic medicines, said Dr Mukund uplekar of TB strategy and Health systems unit. The office of director of Department of child and Adolescent Health and Development said’
“we have found no evidence to date that homeopathy would bring any benefit to the treatment of diarrhoea” in children…Homeopathy does not focus on the treatment and prevention of dehydration in total contradiction for the management of diarrhoea.

To lay claim to a medicinal indication without evidence, was at best a deception, a way of making money under false pretences. At worst, it could be dangerous. While homeopathic pills might be harmless in and of themselves, they could encourage the use of ineffective treatment for serious conditions in place of proven ones. Most politicians though are not true believers, their sympathy for state sanctioned pseudoscience comes about not because they particularly care for it but because they have been cleverly lobbied.

We should challenge the prevailing discourse over healthcare by insisting that evidence matters. We can achieve a lot if everybody who values the scientific method and evidence-based medicine joined the activist rank.

WHY SCIENCE MATTERS TO THE ENVIRONMENT—

The reason why Nuclear power is so heavily opposed by the Greens is not because it can’t help to solve climate change but because it can.—Mark Lynas

The Green approach has demonstrated the pitfalls of playing fast n loose with the evidence. The core of its message on climate change is that science tells us that global warming is happening, that it’s potentially dangerous, and that human activities are at least partially responsible. Each of these propositions is well founded. Green campaigning on the issue however, often goes further, stepping beyond the bounds of scientific knowledge and uncertainty for the sake of building a more colourful case.

Extreme weather is a good example. While computer projections of how a warmer world will look suggest that there will be more storms and floods, heat waves and droughts, most climate scientists are extremely wary of attributing any particular weather event to global warming. Hurricanes and forest fires may become more frequent if temperatures continue to rise, but they have always happened, always will happen, and are not necessarily caused by climate change. This is often ignored by Green campaigners, for the simple reason that linking the natural disaster that has hit the headlines to global warming makes a powerful narrative, that appears to help their case.

We need politicians who understand how science works and who use evidence responsibly to develop policy. We need a media that cooks beyond phoney balance, and covers evidence rather than hearsay. We need proper acknowledgement of how green technology can contribute to economic growth, and an education system that introduces children properly to the scientific method. And we need science lovers to use our new-found political confidence to step up the pressure.

Science has described what may well be the greatest political challenge of the coming decades.
It is going to be essential to meeting it.

SCIENCE LOVERS OF THE WORLD UNITE—-

In the early stages of the French Revolution, in 1789, King Louis xvi was forced to recognize a new national assembly. The landed supporters of the Ancient Regime chose to sit to the right of the president’s chair; their opponents gathered to the left.

Thus began a taxonomy of modern politics that has endured across many different cultures for more than two centuries. The right wing defends capital and free enterprise, supports traditional institutions and dislikes challenges to social norms. Whereas the left campaigns for egalitarian economics while embracing social change.

It’s now widely accepted that opinions about social and economic issues do not necessarily go hand in hand. Politics has a third side also, apart from right and left. It measures rationalism, scepticism, and scientific thinking- the willingness to base opinions on evidence and to keep them under review as better evidence comes along.

Ministers of all parties, and public servants of none, show a troubling reluctance to use the methods of science to investigate how best to teach children, prevent crime, fund health care or protect the environment. Many of them would prefer it if the policies they implement were never evaluated at all.

They do it because they know it no better. And they do it because we let them. If we want change, we can’t continue to sit back and be ignored. We must distil our enthusiasm and outrage into a political force that punches its weight. That’s starting to happen. It’s time to take it further. Let’s build a movement. It’s central concern must be how the policies are put together—

* We want a political culture that appreciates the power of science as a problem-solving tool, and that seeks to exploit its methods of inquiry to resolve the great questions of the day. We want leaders who don’t want just to implement their ideas, but to test them scientifically, and who are comfortable with changing their Minds.

* We want politicians to listen to scientific evidence and advice with respect and to consider it properly before they act. While we would like them to heed it, we accept that won’t always happen. But we expect them to be honest about their reasons when they go their own way.

* We want governments to create an environment in which science can thrive, to create life-enhancing technologies and to drive economic growth. We want long-term investment in curiosity, which is not interrupted when times are tight. The evidence suggests it will pay off.

* We want a media that critically evaluates scientific claims according to the evidence behind them, and that avoids damaging hype about breakthroughs and scares. It should give science the same respect it gives to business, sport or the arts.

* And we want science and critical thinking to become central to national conversation. We want as many people as possible to appreciate not only what science achieves, but how it achieves it. We know that has to start at school.

* We must challenge politicians whenever science is twisted, misused or simply passed over. There are millions of us out there. We have the online tools to assemble. Let’s make ourselves heard. We must use our voices and use our votes. Science abuse must carry a cost. Then we can become a constituency to be courted and appeased, not ignored.

* We must use the media and work to improve it. Let’s support both scientists and journalists who communicate science well, and complain constructively about those who don’t. With blogging and social media, we can also set the record straight ourselves.

* We must use every means available to us to promote a better appreciation of scientific thinking. We can volunteer in schools. We can ask businesses for evidence to support their claims and complain to regulators when they refuse. And we must discuss our views freely with our families, colleagues and friends, instead of keeping quiet for fear of causing offence.

If we are to achieve these goals, and they won’t come easily- we have to raise the political profile of Science. Every science lover has a part to play.

* In all this, we must stay true to the values we want to promote. We mustn’t be tempted to throw off the constraints of rationality and circumspection. It’s these qualities that give science its power. Compromise here, and we risk becoming just another special interest.

It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling in to error, but it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling in to error.

Below are excerpts from ALBERT EINSTEIN; Out of my Later Years, philosophical Library, New York 1950
(Address before the English American Scientific Congress, Washington, May 15, 1940. First published in Science, vol.91, may 1940)

Science is the attempt to make the chaotic diversity of our sense-experience correspond to a logically uniform system of thought. In this system single experiences must be correlated with the theoretic structure in such a way that the resulting coordination is unique and convincing.

The sense-experiences are the given subject-matter. But the theory that shall interpret them is man-made. It is the result of an extremely laborious process of adaptation; hypothetical, never completely final, always subject to question and doubt.

The scientific way of forming concepts differs from that which we use in our daily life, not basically, but merely in the more precise definition of concepts and conclusions; more painstaking and systematic choice of experimental material; and greater logical economy. By this last we mean the effort to reduce all concepts and correlations to as few as possible logically independent basic concepts and axioms.

(Address broadcast to the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Sep. 28, 1941, first published in Advancement of Science, London, vol2.no.5)

The super-national character of scientific concepts and scientific language is due to the fact that they have been set up by the best brains of all countries and all times. In solitude and yet in cooperative effort as regards the final effect they created the spiritual tools for the technical revolutions which have transformed the life of mankind in the last centuries. Their system of concepts have served as a guide in the bewildering chaos of perceptions so that we learned to grasp general truths from particular observations.

What hopes and fears does the scientific method imply for mankind? I do not think that this is the right way to put the question. Whatever this tool in the hand of man will produce depends entirely on the nature of goals alive in this mankind. Once these goals exist, the scientific method furnishes means to realize them. Yet it can not furnish the very goals. The scientific method itself would not have led anywhere, it would not even have been born without a passionate striving for clear understanding.

Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem- in my opinion- to characterize our age. If we desire sincerely and passionately the safety, the welfare and the free development of the talents of all men, we shall not be in want of the means to approach such a state. Even if only a small part of mankind strives for such goals, their superiority will prove itself in the long run.

THE LAWS OF SCIENCE AND THE LAWS OF ETHICS-(From ALBERT EINSTEIN–First published as foreword to Philipp Frank, Relativity–A Richer Truth, Boston 1950)

Science searches for relations which are thought to exist independently of the searching individual. This includes the case where man himself is the subject. Or the subject of scientific statements may be concepts created by ourselves, as in mathematics. Such concepts are not necessarily supposed to correspond to any objects in the outside world. However, all scientific statements and laws have one characteristic in common-they are “true or false” (adequate or inadequate). Roughly speaking, our reaction to them is “yes” or “no”.

The scientific way of thinking has a further characteristic. The concepts which it uses to build up its coherent systems are not expressing emotions. For the scientist, there is only “being”, but no wishing, no valuing, no good, no evil; no goal. As long as we remain within the realm of science proper, we can never meet with a sentence of the type: “Thou shalt not lie.” There is something like a Puritan’s restraint in the scientist who seeks truth: he keeps away from everything voluntaristic or emotional. Incidentally, this trait is the result of a slow development, peculiar to modern western thought.

From this it might seem as if logical thinking were irrelevant for ethics. Scientific statements of facts and relations, indeed, can not produce ethical directives. However, ethical directives can be made rational and coherent by logical thinking and empirical knowledge. If we can agree on some fundamental ethical propositions, then other ethical propositions can be derived from them, provided that the original premises are stated with sufficient precision. Such ethical premises play a similar role in ethics, to that played by axioms in mathematics.

This is why we do not feel at all that it is meaningless to ask such questions as: “Why should we not lie?” We feel that such questions are meaningful because in all discussions of this kind some ethical premises are tacitly taken for granted. We then feel satisfied when we succeed in tracing back the ethical directive in question to these basic premises. In the case of lying this might perhaps be done in some way such as this: Lying destroys confidence in the statements of other people. Without such confidence, social cooperation is made impossible or at least difficult. Such cooperation, however, is essential to make human life possible and tolerable. This means that the rule “Thou shalt not lie” has been traced back to the demands: “Human life shall be preserved” and “Pain and sorrow shall be lessened as much as possible.”

But what is the origin of such ethical axioms? Are they arbitrary? Are they based on mere authority? Do they stem from experiences of men and are they conditioned indirectly by such experiences?

For pure logic all axioms are arbitrary, including the axioms of ethics. But they are by no means arbitrary from a psychological and genetic point of view. They are derived from our inborn tendencies to avoid pain and annihilation, and from the accumulated emotional reaction of individuals to the behaviour of their neighbours.

It is the privilege of man’s moral genius, impersonated by inspired individuals, to advance ethical axioms which are so comprehensive and so well founded that men will accept them as grounded in the vast mass of their individual emotional experiences. Ethical axioms are found and tested not very differently from the axioms of science. Truth is what stands the test of experience.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

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