Science, Bayes Theorem, and Kashmir

I always had a natural inclination towards science and maths. Perhaps the only domains of civilization today, where one seeks truth without fear of hurting sentiments, blasphemy, challenging earlier icons. Where truth is incremental, often contradictory. Where there is no probe on why I reversed my earlier approach. Where I build upon what has already been achieved. Where there is no glory in repeating the already established.

And yet all this happens in a rational manner. Not like some random epiphany of JNU scholars demanding Azad Kashmir one morning. Or a guru explaining how he can be at two places at same time taking recourse to some weird interpretation of Schroedinger Wave Equation. Whatever is there is thorough and analytical.

Even in academia, I find other fields that emulate this scientific approach through peer review, research process to still be very subjective and opinion based. Hence history is left or right. Sociology assumes certain foundations of human nature. I don’t blame them, because we have been unable to find a scientific basis for these.

But science and maths start with very basic axioms and laws. Those that don’t assume anything. Then they build a rigorous system of notations and definitions. Energy and force can be interchangeable in your political speeches but not in physics. Commutative law is commutative. Not about pardoning some prisoner. And then we preserve it all through peer review, documentation etc. Hence knowledge evolves. The scientific transformation is result of this discipline.

Of course there are gaps in this approach. Yes, epiphanies and serendipity find little place. But, with methods of simulations and smart design of experiments, even that is taken care of to large extent. Science evolves into technology and more fun begins.

I agree mystics who come with a completely out of world proposal like god-men have no place in this scientific world. But that is a blessing. We cannot leave our fate in hope of some god-men’s vision that none can either see or probe.

Science also needs a direction, they say. I disagree. Humans need a direction. Science is a framework, a tool. One who uses it needs to have purpose and goal, not the tool. If we try to put direction in tool, we will convert it into another epiphany of some mystic.

What science needs, especially in this analytics driven world, is full freedom from non-scientific pressures. Because a prime minister feels that solar energy needs to be promoted, you allocate funds from conventional energy research to solar energy and boost Chinese imports with little results. That is stupid and like putting a complex equation in a bracket and multiplying by zero. Instead let those scientists who have expertise decide these matters. Similarly, if my statistical analysis shows clear trends of demographics or faith being dominant variables with significantly low P-values, don’t ask me to kill my model. Don’t punish me for that. Don’t ask maths to lie. Accept what it says the way you accept what maths of image recognition gives you when you tag people on FB.

I have tried applying basics of this scientific approach in emotive fields like religion, culture, society, terror. The scientific framework never lied. Of course someone could come up and offer improvements. Even fights like Einstein vs Bohr, or Hawking vs Penrose, or Bayesian vs Frequentist would have been fun, meaningful fun. But here, rants of conspiracy follow. There are threats and challenges, allegations of being Pakistani spy or Hindu terrorist. One side is always angry. And the science student in me say, “What the hell is this. Back in IIT, they never slapped me if my project model was not accurate. At max, share your findings and publish your own research.”

To me, this hijacking of science by unscientific influences – politics, social activism, journalism, media etc etc is why we face terror, poverty and all nonsense we have. We end up applying science to less controversial and often trivial domains like porn, selfies, fashion, drama, etc, and fuel further unscientific attitudes. And a vicious cycle of unscientific control emerges.

An unbiased science will automatically evolve human as per the core inner drive that is inherently pure. In spiritual terminology, divine.
When I read Vedas, I find this spirit of evolution and am compelled to say, “Wow”. Sometimes I feel, let me throw away all the intermediary trash. And spend my life having fun with just Vedas and Science.

But then news comes – “Supreme Court refuses to probe into who killed a 1000 Kashmiri Pandits because it is an old matter.” And I wonder, “Why are we being punished because terrorists were prohibited from study of science in madrassas. And LLB course does not have a chapter on Bayes Theorem of Conditional Probability.”

Now I will dig out some evidence that will be ignored because Home Minister has to love “Kashmiriyat” – another unscientific jargon that influences what digital signal processing maths should be used to flash his smiling pic with Kashmiris. And my tryst with Vedas and Science and Maths will be interrupted.

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