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Old 08-13-2019, 08:37 PM
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India's PM Modi and his support for nonsense


As an insider I prefer to laugh at the various Judeo-Christian crazinesses, but it’s sad to see the governing party of a nation that has made great strides since independence lead it down a path of mysticism and pseudoscience. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has chosen to ally with the rubes and chaw-soy-bacons of his land by supporting the lunatic beliefs of Hindu "scientists" out to create a false narrative of India's early supremacy in the sciences, created by the gods up to 9000 years ago.

In the Deccan Herald Prasenjit Chowdhury writes
Quote:
Call it saffronisation or a vain attempt at reviving an imagined past -- it makes us a laughing stock when a person as high as our prime minister proclaims, as he did in late 2014, at the opening ceremony of a hospital in Mumbai that modern medical achievements — plastic surgery, cloning and in-vitro fertilisation — were all practised in India’s ancient past; that Lord Ganesha’s elephant-head is proof that advanced transplant surgery existed, and that the ways Kunti conceived in the Mahabharata were evidence of the practice of in-vitro fertilisation.
It is said that Ganesha’s head is a real elephant’s head grafted onto a human torso, meaning the ancients beat some serious rejection as well as the “simple” surgery.

The sub-headline states, “Modi will go down as the prime minister who caused irreparable damage to the cause of Indian science”. I’d’ve pulled that punch since “irreparable” is too strong a word, but it will cause damage for the foreseeable future when India needs all the usable science it can get to support its people, and it won’t get it through myths and bullshit. India can only fulfill Modi’s promise to put as many as three astronauts, or “vyomanauts,” into orbit by 2022 if its scientists are not saddled with the dual goals of a successful mission and pleasing a government that claims that much of modern science was first developed by gods thousands of years ago.

A review in Nature explains what went wrong:
Quote:
...since the 1990s, Hindu nationalism has steadily gathered strength in India. In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party gained a parliamentary majority for the first time, with Narendra Modi as prime minister. The party was re-elected in 2019, with a larger margin of the vote — 37.5%. A notable aspect of the party’s nationalist narratives is the meshing of science, pseudoscience and myth with political messages. Now, these entangled narratives are explored in Holy Science by Banu Subramaniam, a scholar of women, gender and sexuality studies.

This form of nationalism has found favour, she argues, by reinforcing an alluring idea of an India rooted in an ancient civilization where science, technology and philosophy thrived; an India that can be restored to grandeur by linking to its past. Subramaniam writes that this idea has led to a “scientized religion” and a “religionized science”, creating “a vision of India as an archaic modernity”.
In recent years, "experts" have said ancient Indians had spacecraft, the internet, and nuclear weapons—long before Western science came on the scene. They have even thrown out Einstein and Newton, with one “scientist” claiming Newton had failed to “understand gravitational repulsive forces” and said gravitational waves should be renamed “Narendra Modi Waves.”

Science says
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Such claims and other forms of pseudoscience rooted in Hindu nationalism have been on the rise since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. They're not just an embarrassment, some researchers say, but a threat to science and education that stifles critical thinking and could hamper India's development. "Modi has initiated what may be called ‘Project Assault on Scientific Rationality,’" says Gauhar Raza[/url], former chief scientist at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), a conglomerate of almost 40 national labs. "A religio-mythical culture is being propagated in the country's scientific institutions aggressively.".
Yes, India has been given short shrift in the West for its scientific accomplishments, going back as long as Western science, but that is not balanced by insisting that myths were true nor that cow dung and urine, as sold by Modi's BJP cures everything.
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Old 08-13-2019, 08:44 PM
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This nonsense has been percolating for decades and is part of same extremist radical conservatism that has infected the whole world. One of its tactics is to weaponize ignorance in the service of nationalism.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:05 PM
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There is AFAICT a grain of truth in the plastic-surgery claim, inasmuch as there are ancient Indian texts that discuss various surgical procedures including rhinoplasty for damaged noses. However, there is AFAIK no evidence that modern plastic surgery techniques are derived from ancient Indian ones.

And unsurprisingly, claims of ancient Indian space travel or genetic cloning or IVF have no basis whatsoever in archaeological or textual historical evidence.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:57 PM
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And what happened to all of this technology? Who suppressed it and why? They can't pin that one on the Brits as it would have needed to be done a long time ago. And why did none of their neighbors absorb/borrow/steal some of the tech?
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:35 AM
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Originally Posted by dropzone View Post
And what happened to all of this technology? Who suppressed it and why? They can't pin that one on the Brits as it would have needed to be done a long time ago. And why did none of their neighbors absorb/borrow/steal some of the tech?
They all went to Egypt to build the pyramids, of course.

One ray of hope - even more Indian scientists will come to the US, assuming Trump lets them in of course.
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Old 08-14-2019, 06:33 AM
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When writing the OP I was concerned that I would come across as condescending and bearing the White Man's Burden of dragging the Indian people out of intellectual darkness into modernity, and I know that I did, but c'mon!! Modi and the BJP are bent on taking a country that was becoming an intellectual and scientific powerhouse back into the days of oxcarts and medicine that is literally cow piss. And, for what it's worth, there are no mentions of Ganesha before the second century CE--he's not nearly as ancient as people believe.
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
They all went to Egypt to build the pyramids, of course.
What an absurd suggestion.

They got onto their spaceships and flew back to Alpha Centauri, of course. I mean, duh.

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Old 08-14-2019, 12:35 PM
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An ancient civilization that developed nuclear weapons, rather than nuclear power plants, is really making a statement.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:27 PM
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How does a prime minister claiming that an elephant had his head transplanted to a human stop people from practicing science?
Is he transferring funding to elephant transplant research?
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by puddleglum View Post
How does a prime minister claiming that an elephant had his head transplanted to a human stop people from practicing science?
It stops a large number of people from correctly understanding science, as a linked quote in the OP explained quite clearly:
Quote:
Such claims and other forms of pseudoscience rooted in Hindu nationalism have been on the rise since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. They're not just an embarrassment, some researchers say, but a threat to science and education that stifles critical thinking and could hamper India's development. "Modi has initiated what may be called ‘Project Assault on Scientific Rationality,’" says Gauhar Raza, former chief scientist at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), a conglomerate of almost 40 national labs. "A religio-mythical culture is being propagated in the country's scientific institutions aggressively.".
When influential people try to entangle religious belief with scientific fact, it obscures and unnecessarily politicizes actual science. I have no problem with devout Hindus believing that the deity Shiva miraculously transplanted an elephant head onto the decapitated body of Ganesha, any more than I have a problem with devout Christians believing that the incarnate deity Jesus was executed and miraculously came to life again after three days. But it's a problem when leaders start encouraging the public to treat these religious beliefs as scientific claims.

Last edited by Kimstu; 08-14-2019 at 02:40 PM.
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Old 08-14-2019, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by puddleglum View Post
Is he transferring funding to elephant transplant research?
In effect, yes. The BJP's story is not about a miracle, but instead it's about an actual surgical procedure which has been lost in the mists of time, implying that the devout can perform it, too. This takes class time and research money away from studying real, workable science. And the supporters of Vedic Science infest his government.

Last edited by dropzone; 08-14-2019 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 08-14-2019, 04:09 PM
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They all went to Egypt to build the pyramids, of course.

One ray of hope - even more Indian scientists will come to the US, assuming Trump lets them in of course.
Why would the come to the US when we’re going down the same path that India is? The only difference is the name, just change Hindu fundamentalists to Christian fundamentalists. They’d be better off going some place like New Zealand, Norway, or Germany, and helping to prevent those countries from going down the same path that India and the US are currently traveling.
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