Thursday, January 26, 2006

Where was I?

I was at, where the California school textbook issue was being discussed in terms of "defending science".

Unfortunately, "defence of science" seems to be another cult activity; very few of the people there care about what the facts are and what the issue is in California. They are more like a mob, or more charitably, like a crowd cheering on their football team. All it takes is an Oracle or Prophet of their side to set them off. Their defence of the science of evolution is probably equally parroted and equally unconsidered. This is when one thinks kindly of Quantoken (you can find him in the comments here) - he thinks for himself, even if his ideas are often nutty.


Chandra said...


I read the entire blog on textbook at Phargngula. Thanks for offering the spirited defense and pointing out that the ranting on Hinduism and textbook issue is completely out of context.

While I am a proof based guy, the pharyngula and its commentators are no more orthodox than the right-wingers of any religion. Apparently now, Science is not a collection of facts but it’s just a process! Truth does not matter; if the process works and repeatable they are happy even it gives false results.

Anyway, great defense...


Rajan P. Parrikar said...

Arun, I went through the exchanges on the Phargngula site. Kudos for standing up to those "scientific bigots."

Arun said...

Thank you!!!!

Kumar said...


While I did not agree with all you wrote on Pharyngula (and, no doubt, you felt much the same way about my comments), I also thought your contributions made for interesting reading. I also have to agree with you about the disappointing quality of many of the other contributors to that thread. Obviously, there were several exceptions.

In any case, you might want to check out Amardeep Singh's blog (, on which I have also left a few comments) on which there is also a discussion of this issue--with considerably more discernment all around.


Amba said...

There was much pontification with very little knowledge on the part of the Pharyngula posters, but the extent to which Hinduism studies is politicized isn't something that outsiders can be expected to know. One thing I've found interesting about the California textbooks affair is the fact that Witzel, Farmer and Fosse count Dalit and Dravidian organizations among their supporters. The standard Dalit and Dravidian-centric accounts of South Asian history are as nonsensical as anything from the Hindutva camp, but I suspect it'll be a cold day in hell before Witzel et al endeavor to correct the distortions found at Dalitstan, for example. Ideology, not scholarship is at work here.

Anonymous said...


I am still reading your comments there. I've not devoted enough time on this issue so I shall refrain from commenting on the Aryan-Invasion theory etc.

I can see from your blog that this is among your favourite topics which you've thought about. But, that doesn't mean that you put in all that information into the comments section of pharyngula !

In fact I was quite surprised/horrified to see you
list the whole heirarchy of Hindu timescales (and that too twice !) when a simple " A kalpa is ** years and there is a pralaya etc." would have sufficed.

And yeah,in contrast I've often found your comments at CV quite laconic- and I had to stare at it for a while to appreciate what you were saying !:)

In hindsight, It would have been better if you had paraphrased your arguments against the specific mischaracterisation in this case rather than posting long comments with details which would interest nobody but Indian History/linguistics aficionados.

Anonymous said...

And Please, Please don't descend into polemics - don't make the same mistake as Pharyngula does.I bet PZ Myers sees ID/Dover whenever religion and school textbooks mentioned in one sentence :) Which led him not to look into the details of this case before writing his post.

What you've done in this post is exactly the mirror-image of the same attitude. You look at the way pharyngula has handled this issue and immediately the whole businees of "defence of science" seems a cult activity to you!

And,lastly can you please make a proper post on this issue paraphrasing your arguments there ?

Arun said...


Criticisms noted; let us see if I do more satisfactorily in the future.

My saying that the "defence of science" is cultish is not based on this one experience. I abandoned interacting on because any question about evolution triggers an attack, even when the question is to clarify some previous point made, and when the person (e.g., me) quite obviously accepts the validity of evolution.

The main point is that no Hindu organization asked the California textbook commission to introduce anything unscientific into the textbooks.

Here is a not-completed series of articles about the Indo-Aryan question.