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Scientifically Unscientific

It was my second year of engineering course and I was in the Electronics Communication Lab. The practical examination for the subject was going on and the external examiner was expected to arrive anytime to check our readings. I was sweating out to get correct readings for Amplitude vs. Frequency of a circuit but to no avail. May be the equipment was faulty. Out of ten readings, only two matched. Faced with the prospect of flunking the exam, I fudged the readings to produce a graph which resembled the expected one.  The only problem was that I noted down my first readings with a pen, so I had to cut them out to take down new readings. The examiner got suspicious at this and started querying me. After much arguments to convince him of the authenticity of the readings, which later turned to pleading, I was allowed to pass the exam with only the passing marks. Moral of the story : Always note down scientific readings with a pencil.

Circa 2010. The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee has tabled a report about the tests it carried out on BT Brinjals (genetically modified Brinjals). The section on protein estimation in cooked brinjal says that uncooked non-BT brinjal also tested positive for BT protein (!!) leading to speculation whether the report is fudged. The government has brushed it aside as a typo but after reading my story above, you know better.

This brings me to an important question - Why Brinjal?!!! Why not anything else? Its not like we are dying to have a genetically modified version of Baingan Ka Bhartha. It isn't even the favorite food of Indians, infact most people hate it. Now they will have a reason not eat it. It looks like a conspiracy against the humble brinjal. And the way Mr. Sharad Pawar is pushing this for approval, it will not be surprising if we hear of a Brinjal-gate in the near future.

The second big scientific mistake is the study which claimed that Himalayan glaciers will be melting by 2035. IPCC has now admitted that there was a mistake and that they were off by 300 years!! Its just another typo which made the world leaders who assembled at Copenhagen a bit ashamed on being fooled by a group of scientists.

The third big scientific mistake (and this one's revealed after 12 years) is that the Lancet report linking vaccines to autism is false. This report had led to a sharp drop in vaccination rates in both Britain and the United States and a resurgence in measles. People still are afraid to get their children vaccinated. Its now claimed that the study was conducted on only 12 children and hence not conclusive. Another case of data manipulation, if I dare say so.

What really surprises me is not that these scientists had fudged the data, but that how can they be so naive in manipulating it. May be they didn't bring a pencil with them!

My only message to these scientists is what Joey says in Friends, "If you are doing it wrong, do it right!"


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