Friday, November 30, 2012
As a scientist, I feel proud because of the scientific contributions that helped the human beings irrespective of their age, gender, caste, religion or nationality. A professional scientist is a knowledgeable thinker, excellent teacher, trainer, problem solver, truth-searcher and service provider. Scientists form a class of professionals who handle the basic sciences like Biology, Physics and Chemistry and Mathematics and their applied aspects. Reasoning is the root rationale of every scientist. The extent of scientific study extends from nano level to giga level. The knowledge generated over time by scientists are proved or disproved every time. So science is not static. Science changes as the ‘big brain’ grows and transition occurs.
According to me, scientist has two roles to play – one is the hard-core science and the other soft-core science. In the hard – core one, the real science is handled as hypothesis – testing – inferring – forming theory and testing again. It requires hard work day and night. There is no office time for it. Laboratory, field or workshop is the site of hard-core science. On the other hand, the soft-core science constitutes, writing of research projects, publication of research results, teaching, training, conducting seminar etc. So a scientist has great responsibility of handling these two important aspects day in and day out. All scientists are paid salary to perform these functions both in private and public concerns. They are also evaluated by competent authorities time to time.
One thing we need to keep in mind is that scientists are also human beings. They do have emotions and desires. They are part of the society. They have family and friends. Therefore we find some deviations in their behavior to meet the character of a scientist. Faking results, copying, cooking up data, publishing non-repeatable results, copying others’ results, plagiarism, mishandling project money, harassing subordinates and students – are some of the unpleasant activities we hear time to time. We all know that only a few do all these things. But the scientific community gets a bad reputation in the minds of public. Therefore scientists have to be careful in their duty and safeguard the sanctity of science.
As a Plant Physiologist for more than 30 years in Agricultural Science, I learned many things which were conveyed at various occasions to my fellow Plant Physiologists who heard me with keen interest and patience, but only few followed my suggestions. However, I am happy that today’s young scientists have gone far away from the old science and explored the unexplored with the help of modern knowledge and equipments. The advancement of biotechnology, nanotechnology, genetic engineering and bio-informatics is helping the modern day science to progress and produce fantastic results which are very much needed for all of us.
However, I find a growing dissatisfaction among the scientific community because of the bad attitudes of some of the so-called senior scientists who occupy high positions. I always hear such murmuring from the mouths of many young and even old scientists whenever I happened to interact with them. I am 75, still I feel a pleasure to talk to young agricultural scientists. Most of them have a negative thinking at the scientific institutions and the administration. Science is a bias less subject, but many a time leaders in these institutions are biased and thus the young minds are poisoned and work against the spirit of science.
One of the best ways to avoid such attitudes is to train scientists by some management gurus. Scientific management requires handling of plants, animals, electronic equipment and above all highly qualified human beings. Of course I know there is an Institute for Research Management. But we need to have facilities for scientist management. Basically this has to start at the post-graduate level of study or at the early stages of entering service. I wish someone thinks the possibility of changing the attitude of scientists so that science remains as science forever.
v Teaching creative thinking with emphasis on active learning rather than passive or learning by rote.
v Implementing teaching methods where every student participates (rather than simply listening to the instructor)
v Emphasis on creative and critical thinking including inculcating the habit of question, develop opinions and the ability to think in a constructive way to improve upon the existing methods and designs.
v Encouragement at the school level to try out new things, doing things in an unorthodox manner, whatever feasible and question the conventional methods.
v Introduction of an appropriate system of evaluation of mentors by the mentees.
v Periodic ‘health check-up’ of institutions by surveys on the opinion of the students, research scholars and faculty on the issues which affect their career and growth and all issues related to the cultivation of science.
– Om P. Sharma, IVRI, Palampur.
v Try to find a good mentor, a recognized scientist, but also one with whom you feel comfortable.
v Never afraid of asking questions. Asking good questions may be more important than finding answers.
v Don’t embark on a new problem before you unambiguously identify the problem you would like to solve.
v Don’t be afraid of branching out in any direction in the process of your study.
v Truly, have an open eye and an open mind in every situation.
- M. Hargittai, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
A man enters Heaven and sees a huge wall full of clocks. He asks an angel, “What are these for?”
“These are Lie Clocks; every person has a Lie Clock. Whenever you lie on earth, the clock moves” the angel says. The man points to a static clock and asks, “Whose Clock is this?”
“It’s Vivekananda’s. It never moved shows that he never told a lie” says the angel.
The curious man asks, “Where do have the Indian politician’s clock?”
The angel replies: “that is kept in our office. We use it as a table fan.”
Distraught man goes to the doctor for some help for long life.
Man: “Is there any medicine for long life?”
Doctor: “Get married.”
Man: “Will it help; me?”
Doctor: “No, but it will avoid such thoughts.
11. Social proof: despite all protestations of individuality, people love conformity. So tell them which way the flock is going because people want to be in the majority.
12. Attention: if the audience isn't paying attention, they can't think about your arguments, so attitudes can't change.
13. Minimize distraction: if you've got a strong message then audiences are more swayed if they pay attention. If the arguments are weak then it's better if they're distracted.
14. Positively framed: messages with a positive frame can be more persuasive.
16. Confidence: not only your confidence, but theirs. The audience should feel confident about attitude change. Audience confidence in their own thoughts is boosted by a credible source and when they feel happy (clue: happy audiences are laughing).
17. Be powerful: a powerful orator influences the audience, but making the audience themselves feel powerful increases their confidence in attitude change. An audience has to feel powerful enough to change.