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Dr. P.V. S. Kumar Scientist, National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR), CSIR, India
The explicitly stated 'policy' statement on science communication can be inferred by a few references to inculcating 'scientific temper' among the people in the Science Policy Resolution of India in 1958. This article of faith was also incorporated later on as the 42nd Amendment to the Constitution in 1976. These articles of faith remained on paper or rhetorical speeches without operationalising nor implemented in large scale in India. One of the main objective of the Science and Technology Policy formulated in 2003 is "To ensure that the message of science reaches every citizen of India, man and woman, young and old, so that we advance scientific temper, emerge as a progressive and enlightened society, and make it possible for all our people to participate fully in the development of science and technology and its application for human welfare. Indeed, science and technology will be fully integrated with all spheres of national activity". In academic literature, a gradual shift away from simplistic conceptualisations of ‘the citizen’ as empty vessels awaiting authoritative knowledge from scientists and scientific institutions (deficit model), towards a more sophisticated conceptualisation based on ideas about distributed expertise and mutual respect (dialogic model), can be identified over the past 25 years, which is reflected in at least some policy documents, institutional rhetoric, funding initiatives, and practical applications.
including India. are concerned to spread values and attitudes of scientific culture among broad sections of people. for encouraging public acceptance of the teaching of evolution in schools. As opposed to the “sciences” (as conceived. Along with these developments. especially. The academic discipline . These people must be able to conduct research and undertake development initiatives to maintain or increase production of goods and services The academic discipline of science communication has flourished since 1970s with the establishment of teaching courses. With the result that science communication subsumes both science and technologies and the disciplinary field of science communication has also come to be known as Public Understanding of Science and Technology (PUST) (Massimiano Bucchi and Brian Trench (2008)) The western countries are besieged with issues relating to sophisticated public outreach and engagement to overcome perceptual gridlock on climate change.Nature of contemporary science: We live in an era where most policy debates relevant to science and emerging technologies are not simply technical issues. Rather. It is nowadays a commonplace that representing and intervening are part of every attempt to arrive at knowledge of empirical matters (Hacking 1983). particularly in India. or for effectively engaging with stakeholders and a wider public on almost any issue. Scientific research got embedded in high tech instrumentation with the result the boundaries between pure and applied research erased – science became ‘techno science’. they are collectively decided at the intersection of politics. people who are skilled and educated in science subjects. the “technosciences” do not even attempt to distinguish between theoretical representation of the world and technical intervention into the world. the neo-liberal economic policies adopted by a majority of countries. inter alia. public understanding of science etc) has emerged due to concerns such as the lack of intellectual public support for scientific ways of thinking and funds for public scientific research work. have resulted in privatisation of scientific research and its results (intellectual property regimes). for meaningfully involving the public in societal decisions about plant biotechnology and nanotechnology. The . by scientists and philosophers of the 19th and 20th centuries). research and diffusion of the reseach through scientific journals such as Public Understanding of Science. and annual conferences of its professional researchers (Public Communication of Science and Technology PCST) and Science Journalists etc. the developing countries. On the other hand. The widespread diffusion of Information and Communication Technologies facilitated global reach of science and technology erasing time and space barriers. Science Communication etc. These concerns become even more important as India moves from traditional resource based economy to knowledge based economy (as is evidenced by the constitution of India’s National Knowledge Commission in 2005). and expert knowledge. values. This kind of economy requires. The issues before developing countries is to inculcate rational attitudes and values among lay people who can then participate in public policy making and also contribute to the progress of the society and nation.science communication (and its overlapping discourses such as science literacy.
activities.1 Public Scieentists Media Science Communicators Figure 1 showing different spheres of science communication Three Stages in the development of Science communication: Bauer et al (2007) identify 3 stages in the growth of science communication literature . and dialogue to produce one or more of the following personal responses to science (the vowel analogy) Awareness. Science Literacy is defined is conceptualised as having three dimensions (Shen 1975): . Public Understanding of Science (1985 onwards) and Science and Society (1990s onwards). and social factors" Science communication is usually mediated by media. its content. science communicators. Science Literacy School Scientific literacy is conceptualized as the level of understanding of science and technology needed to function as citizens in a modern industrial society. e.g. including familiarity with new aspects of science Enjoyment or other affective responses. processes. or confirming of science-related attitudes Understanding of science.Science Literacy (1960 onwards). appreciating science as entertainment or art Interest.basic terminology of the discipline . Burns et al (2003) map the various schools of thought and offer a 'contemporary' definition of science communication: "as the use of appropriate skills. reforming. media. Science Literacy is a term first coined by Paul De Hurd in 1958 soon after the launch of Sputnik by the Soviets.such as science (and its relation to technology) public and communication have been debated in these fora as also the theoretical bases of the disciplinary practices been identified. museums etc as shown in Figure. the forming. as evidenced by voluntary involvement with science or its communication Opinions.
of which Science and Technology .. His construct of survey instruments based on (a) content (a vocabulary of basic scientific constructs sufficient to read competing news stories in a newspaper or magazine)(b) process (an understanding of the process or nature of scientific inquiry) and (c) social factors (some level of understanding of the impact of science and technology on individuals and on society) became the basis of surveys used in the US. particularly as it is applied to NSF indicators and recommend a series of changes in the design of the survey instruments. . Miller (1983) emphasized that In a democratic society. to become more aware of science and science-related issues and thus participate more fully in the democratic processes of an increasingly technological society. The Scientific Literacy model considers people who hold superstitious and religious beliefs to be scientifically illiterate. Miller believed that in a democratic society.. SSCC for “science in the service of citizens and consumers”. A 3 by 3 Matrix of Purposes and Content. showing how certain kinds of knowledge fit into cells Civic engagement with Science Factual Knowledge Practical / Individual decision Making How should antibiotics be used Cutlural Curiosity about Scientific Worldview What is an electron . the level of scientific literacy in the population has important implications for science policy decisions. .Public Attitudes and Understanding of Science is based on the analyses of these nation wide surveys.each with different levels of capabilities and cultures.1. as presented below in Table. Civic scientific literacy enables a citizen “.. Practical scientific literacy. any measures we can take to raise this level. will improve the quality of both our science and technology and our political life (Miller 1983). is an appreciation of science as a major human achievement. is scientific knowledge that can be applied to help solve practical problems. This model does not take into cognisance of heterogeneous publics . al. Toumey et al find that persons in the public have different reasons for acquiring scientific knowledge and using it. 2. The Scientific Literacy measures were based on formal school science knowledge rather than practical scientific knowledge.the scientific literacy showed a plateau over the years Chris Toumey et al (2010) discuss the lacunae in the Millers's Science Literacy model. Arguing that the theoretical basis of Miller's Civic Literacy is based on 'deficit model' (the public as a 'micro-scientist' compared to Scientists who possess large amount of scientific knowledge) Toumey et al offer a schema based on the contexts and needs of public who uses the scientific knowledge. however this positive relationship did not show up in several rounds of longitudinal surveys . 3. The model does not take into account the culturally subjective environments in which people live. It does not recognise that people can have conflicting and coexisting beliefs that manifest according to the cultural context (Raza et. particularly the National Science Foundation (NSF) driven Science and Engineering Indicators (since 1985 edition).. 1: Table 1. the level of scientific literacy in the population has important implications for science policy decisions to improve the quality of both science and technology and political life. 2002) The Scientific Literacy model assumes a causal link between the acquisition of scientific knowledge and a positive relationship between the public and S&T.. Cultural scientific literacy.
The result was the birth of public engagement of science and technology (PEST. media and museums etc. The general consensus of these works are that public are heterogenous. plausible and useful). albeit through the mediation of science journalists. Elaine Howard Ecklund. Understanding can be decomposed as cognitive understanding ( new knowledge being intelligible.Processes & Standards Institutional Knowledge How is probability relevant to a particular issue Why does nanotechnology receive government money ? Principles of naturalistic explanation Which experts and institutions that I can Trust Chris Toumey. K. Guterbock. have differing needs depending on the context. Michael Cobb. attitudes toward S&T. affective (the engagement with science as germane. The PUS model was also perceived as being paternalistic.October 2010 Public Understanding of Science School: Britain has a long tradition of promoting science and technology – being the pioneer of industrial revolution. and interest in S&T issues The deconstruction of several concepts involved in Public Understanding / Engagement of Science by several scholars led to a profusion of academic literature. The Office of Science and Technology and various research councils in UK which published a series of guidelines on public engagement of scientists with lay people. Science also was seen as consisting of different disciplines and specialisations each with its own jargon and communities of practioners. Eamonn Kelly. PUS got institutionalised as a result of this report – one of them being Committee on Public Understanding of Science (COPUS) in 1986. published another report ‘Science in Society’ in 2000 emphasing the importance of public engagement in science communication activities. .’ model of science communication – a top-down model in which scientific information was supposed to flow uni-directionally from scientists to public. Sir Walter Bodmer. Mark Brown. A. Concerns for spread of scientific culture were a concomitant development along with the growth of science and technology in U. salient and palatable) and connative (actionable. International measures such as the Eurobarometer (European Union countries) and National Science Foundation (USA) surveys are based on the PUS model. have their own frame of values and attitudes in perceiving and ‘understanding’ science. Meg Blanchard. & Bruce Lewenstein (2010) The NSF Workshop On Public Knowledge Of Science. John Besley. Hence measures that have been used to gauge levels of PUS examine: knowledge of science. trust and control on engagement) (Steve Aslop 1999). PUS was basically seen as following ‘deficit. However. The House of Lords. The report identified ‘public ignorance’ as the reason for declining enrolments in science and the general decline of UK’s intellectual and economic power. The interest in public understanding of science – which is a British idea – was articulated by a report published by Royal Society in 1985 – called Bodmer Report. the PUS model also acknowledges some aspects of the multidimensional character of the public's relationship with S&T. Margaret Glass. Thomas M. after its chairman.
Scientific culture is an integrated societal value system that appreciates and promotes science. Though the peaks are represented as highest level of capabilities / skills they are ideal states for lay public. Ulrik Felt et al (2003) . for that matter.Burns et al depict these issues through an analogy of ‘mountain climbing’ as shown in figure 1 below. as important pursuits The report Optimising Public Understanding of Science and Technology (OPUS) published in 2003 depicts the cultural differences across European countries in their activities relating to ‘public understanding of science’ The report as a starting point reveals the different nomenclature adopted by different European countries for similar set of activities – Public Understanding of Science in UK. but also on the social. Language is both a carrier and manifestation of culture – where linguistic variations occur. which only specialist scientists can claim to have achieved. per se. The ladders depicted in the figure are the means – media etc – which enable people to climb up a chosen mountain (domain). Figure 2. cultural and political environments in which the public actively engages with science in their everyday lives. linguistic barriers also prevent trans-cultural ideas or objects in a given culture. The developments in social constructivism within Science Technology and Society (STS) disciplines led to redefinition of science communication. the French notion of Scientific and Technological Culture etc. The Science in Society model This model holds that the relationship between science and the public is not only based on formal literacy or attitudes. and widespread scientific literacy. the science communication has to be sensitive to frame and deliver the messages. Science and technology were seen as social / cultural products involving human subjects who interact within a laboratory or in a wider society with values and norms which enter into production of scientific objects. The depth and height may represent the amount of skills and knowledge one may acquire during the process of accent. any communication is seen as a cultural construct – to frame the messages and context in suit the cultural milieu of public. Mountain Climbing Analogy of Science Communication Public awareness of scientific disciplines (domains) and their efforts to climb begins the awareness and later understanding of people. The report identifies several ‘success stories’ across the European countries for implementation in other countries (OPUS 2003). The communication of science. At the same time.
so that we advance scientific temper. the project of scientific temper was a call for the diffusion of “science mindedness” throughout the population.’ (Fundamental Duties of every Indian citizen vide Part IV-A. Article 51-A (h) – introduced as a part of 42nd Amendment to the Constitution of India in 1976) An attempt was made to trace the usage of the word scientific temper in published literature by using Google ngram viewer – a tool which allows any user to trawl through the digitized texts in the Google books which is a corpus of about 5 million published books all over the world in most of the languages. and to meet present national needs in the new era of globalisation. inter alia. and make it possible for all our people to participate fully in the development of science and technology and its application for human welfare. science and technology will be fully integrated with all spheres of national activity”. “Recognizing the changing context of the scientific enterprise. Scientific Temper was incorporated as one of the Fundamental Duties of every citizen of India through an amendment in the Indian Constitution – ‘to develop the scientific temper. It addressed itself to universalist concerns of “values of life” rather than to narrow and specialized questions of scientific research and application Unlike scientific expertise alone. Articulated by the first Prime Minister of India. in 1946. emerge as a progressive and enlightened society. humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform. Jawaharlal Nehru. the scientific culture is expressed by the notion „ Scientific Temper‟. The Indian Science and Technology Policy of 2003 states clearly the role of Science and Technology (S&T) in India. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. in his book. towards the need to spread of scientific temper in the country. young and old. This is even more ironical because. the concept of Scientific Temper remained elusive in its implementation. The Google ngram viewer enables to . Discovery of India (1946) scientific temper refers to a mentality or an outlook rather than a specialized body of knowledge. Indeed.discuss the problems in transferability of science communication activities across European countries – which they label as ‘boundary objects’( Felt et al 2003) Scientific Temper: In India. The growth of scientific temper was measured by the extent to which ordinary people were using the methods of science to life‟s problems Scientific temper is an indigenous discourse – rich with potentials for cross cultural / gender sensitive and environmental sensitive and laden with values to overcome scientistic excesses and fight against irrational / traditional modes of mentality. Government (of India) enunciates the following objectives of its Science and Technology Policy: To ensure that the message of science reaches every citizen of India. man and woman. Although enunciated by the first Prime Minister of India.
science communication and public understanding searched through the 1800 to 2008 corpora to elicit the patterns of their occurrences over these years: Google ngram viewer for Scientific temper . The concept of scientific temper was initially used to refer to a set of norms and practices fostering to the growth of science among scientists.search for a particular word. Although the Google Books do not cover every publication that is printed in the world. what percentage of them are "scientific temper" or "science communication" and “public understanding of science”? The frequency of selected words / phrases occurring in at least 40 books in a given year will be shown in the graph. Below is the graphical view of the occurrence of the phrase scientific temper. science communication and public understanding of science through 1800 – 2008 using a 3 year average of frequencies of occurrence Figure 3. the promotion of the public understanding of science needs to be grounded in the public‟s legitimate interests in science. phrase as they occur within these corpora of published books. 5 …. The science community‟s historic perspective on the public is grounded in the legitimate interests of science.When the concept „peaks‟ in the 1940s and again in 1990s . Ngram view of Science Communication. this concept is transposed to refer to set of beliefs among lay public with the hope that these scientific beliefs would lead to progress of the society / nation to which this publics belong.2008 As a concept Scientific Temper was used initially to refer to a set of practices – scientific praxis – among the scientists (epistemic communities). they can be taken as a fair sample of the entire published literature. The earliest usage of the concept of scientific temper was around 1890s (to be specific 1893 in The Andover Review page 759). Together this body of literature came to be identified as „science communication‟ or „public understanding of science‟. Scientific Temper and Public Understanding Science 1800 . 4. The efforts of scientists / science communicators to communicate with public led to a growing corpus of academic and popular literature. and these frequencies can be smoothened to by using averages across 3. What the yaxis shows is that of all the bigrams contained in books written in English and published. but. Over time. Years as per the users‟ choices.
Unlike scientific expertise alone. Consistency between theory and practice 6. There is a growing literature around the phrases science communication and public understanding of science – each of these have attained the status of scientific disciplines – through well established epistemic community of practitioners. Although Scientific Temper predates these two concepts. understanding and creative relationship between humans and environment 2. experimentation and objective analyses 3. The growth of scientific temper was measured by the extent to which ordinary people were using the methods of science to life‟s problems. Temper according to dictionary meanings relate to: . the project of scientific temper was a call for the diffusion of “science mindedness” throughout the population. A steadfast commitment (with humility) to established truth while being open to new facts which can change the established paradigms / dogmas 4. A rational approach to the discovery of truth through free and creative thinking. An active sensitive questioning. The term has acquired some popular currency by the rhetorical usage of political leaders and bureaucrats – particularly during the public ceremonies relating to S&T in India. Scientific Temper has the following aspects in its conceptualisation. the word temper when conjoined with science becomes difficult to decipher. journals and teaching programs. Willingness to follow up to logical conclusions of search for facts 7.most of the publications are from India – denoting a shift in the meaning and „indigenization‟ of the concept – a possible influence of Nehru‟s Work and the impact his work generated The phrase scientific temper predates the other two concepts – science communication and public understanding of science which show their appearances from about 1950s peaking around 2000. Post Nehruvian era the usage of the term came to refer to a set of attitudes / values / outlook (Weltanschauung) among the lay people. 1. The saliency of scientific temper as concept is thus established using this tool. there is yet no such conceptual clarity nor the disciplinary focus around this concept. A systems approach to problems In a way the popularization of the concept scientific temper – though with imprecise definitions – resulted in what Anthony Giddens jargonized as „double hermeneutics‟ which refers to everyday "lay" concepts and those from the social sciences in a two-way relationship Etymologically the phrase conveys conceptual fuzziness – while science and its adjective scientific can be resolved by philosophers of science. A deliberate effort to distinguish apparent and real causes of phenomenon 5.
a fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing natural philosophy. societies. temper (n) late 14c." from L. Scientific temper. scientific temper refers to the second definition (noun) „ characteristic state of mind‟. negative or neutral views. and normative postulates. Meaning "degree of hardness and resiliency in steel" is from late 15c. temprian "to bring to a proper or suitable state.1600. fundamental.temper (v. attitudes change as a result of experience. and ethic Scientific temper on the other hand can be conceptualised as a stable „cultural component‟." but the sense history is obscure. thus. regulate. that this concept be clarified – ontologically – and measured – epistemologically. Given such a wide definition of culture.1300. to modify some excessive quality. can be distinguished from public understanding of science. or cultures have values that are largely shared by their members Scientific temper can be postulated as a comprehensive world view ." usually described as from tempus "time. science communication can be conceived as the supply side and the public understanding of the science as the demand side of the society. Attitude represents an individual‟s like or dislike for an item. The sense of "characteristic state of mind" is first recorded 1590s. principles and guides for behavior that are commonly shared among members of a particular group." from temper (v. with a sense of "proper time or season. Meaning "to make (steel) hard and elastic" is from late 14c. scientific temper relates to scientific practices rather than scientific knowledge – praxis rather than content. or themes.E. values. Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true. The term culture can be defined as the body of learned beliefs. It‟s imperative for gauging scientific temper. which relates to content of scientific concepts and dispositions toward such scientific knowledge. emotions. moderate. that of "calm state of mind" in c. Attitudes are positive. season" (of unknown origin). existential. Sense of "to tune the pitch of a musical instrument" is recorded from c. Unlike personality. blend.). Culture serves as a road map for both perceiving and interacting with the world.. scientific temper refers to worldview (or Weltanshauung) of a . Science communication can be properly construed to refer to activities / efforts to convey such content of scientific knowledge – the media and strategies to convey the knowledge. Groups. tradition. Beliefs are stubborn but can be changed in the face of overwhelming evidence. to restrain within due limits. Values Personal values evolve from circumstances with the external world and can change over time.) late O. "due proportion of elements or qualities. In other words. temperare "to mix correctly. Seen from this perspective. and that of "angry state of mind" (for bad temper) in 1828. In popular usage.
Sadly even social scientists did not make an effort to refine this concept or operationalise the concept for . answering the question "where are we heading?" Values. "What is true and false?" An aetiology a constructed world-view should contain an account of its own "building blocks. have not taken place in India towards ushering a second renaissance.(Prasad 1982) The Scientific Temper remained largely confined to rhetorical statements. religions and their dogmas are divisive. Scientific Temper is incompatible with theological and metaphysical beliefs. Dogmas and adherence to obscurantist practices help them in this role. This statement is the culmination of 3 days of brainstorming during October 1980 and later vetted by a large number of scientists. and/or in an unconscious way. For instance. artists and scholars. The Center Leo Apostel (VUB Belgium) defined a worldview as an ontology. While science is universal. Nandy advocates for a more „humanistic temper‟ Rajendra Prasad‟s critique of Statement of Scientific Temper and its counter „humanistic temper‟ emphasises lack of political will of the ruling classes to empower the oppressed classes. the role of Scientific Temper is to lay bare the anatomy of such social barriers. answers to ethical questions: "What should we do?" A praxeology or methodology. The preamble emphasises the importance of scientific temper to rid the country of its socio-economic ills at that time. It should comprise the following six elements An explanation of the world A futurology. or theory of knowledge. at least to the extent that the signatories wished." its origins and construction. one would have to learn or invent a new language in order to construct a new worldview. The statement consists of 3 sections(1) preamble (2) attributes of scientific temper and (3) role of scientific temper. July 1981 a group of scientists and intellectuals issued a „Statement of Scientific Temper‟ (Bhargava 2007). which benefits their interests. While Apostel and his followers clearly hold that individuals can construct worldviews. other writers regard worldviews as operating at a community level. if one's worldview is fixed by one's language. On 19. or a descriptive model of the world. They pitted scientific temper as an antidote to widespread antiquarian beliefs including religious beliefs and dogmas.‟ The debates and discussions on Scientific Temper that the Statement should have triggered. Ashish Nandi published a counter statement – critiquing the western positivist science emphasis of the authors of Scientifc Temper Statement.„When the social structure and stratification prevent the application of rational and scientifically proven solutions. or theory of action “How should we attain our goals?" An epistemology.community or society. as according to a strong version of the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis. The authors also note that inequality and poverty must be banished to help spread of scientific temper .
The intellectual space left untapped by academicians and the state structures has been to an extent occupied by various voluntary organisations (also called NGOs and Civil Societies). however small it may be. But. Independence thesis of Stephen Jay Gould’s NOMA. Scientific temper ought to contest and replace the outer core. Various scholars have expressed their opinions on this subject – such as Conflict thesis of Dickson White.D. two opposite. Scientific temper as the evidence based verifiable knowledge claims is privileged over ‘revealed’ knowledge. Dialogue thesis of William Pollard. to which people‟s science movements and scientific institutions have contributed in a large measure. and glorification of obscurantist practices. Such efforts had modest impact as in the case of bringing out large numbers of people to watch the 'total solar eclipse' during 1995 or critically appraising public policies as in the case of the Silent Valley Project. have definitely made a difference. It should be noted with some satisfaction that the combined effect of efforts made to propagate scientific ideas in the country. there has been a substantial growth in the number of these organisations. have not been able to change the direction of the tide of irrationality. The assumption is that once scientific temper diffuses widely within the country. though commendable.measuring/gauging Scientific Temper except for a Ph. during the past 30 years there has been a marked increase in public display of religious and sectarian identities. Religious beliefs can be conceptualized as consisting of two ‘cores’ – the inner core being the ‘dharma’ or ethical core and an outer core consisting of dogmas and rituals. dissertation on this subject (Pattnaik 1987). These efforts. most of the writers have counterposed scientific temper against religious beliefs – including the authors of Statement on Scientific Temper. What impact these various efforts have had on the inculcation of Scientific Temper in the population is yet to be studied. Since the 1980s. During August 2007 and January 2008 they conducted a survey among 1. and Integration thesis of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's Omega Point Our understanding of the relationship is close to dialogue thesis of Polalard. and yet synchronous. This view is strengthened by an international survey conducted by the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture (ISSSC) in Connecticut. at the same time. changes have been observed in the country. Ever since the 1981 Statement was released.100 participants from 130 universities and research institutes. religiosity and wielding of religious symbols. This survey revealed that a majority of the scientists felt that the state is not doing enough to inculcate . The outer core is identity markers to distinguish one sect / religion versus others. ascendance of irrational cults. US. the religious beliefs and other supernatural beliefs would wither away. Privatisation of electronic media has also had the undesirable effect of providing increased space for forces responsible for this increasing spread of irrationality and undermining scientific temper. Scientific Temper versus Religious Beliefs In India. This has provided the ideological basis for at times brutal unscientific actions in both public and personal domains.
. These responses indicate that scientific temper – which one assumes to be prevalent among scientists – can coexist with core religious beliefs.scientific temper in India. They responses to certain rituals conducted in scientific organisations – such as carrying a model of rocket before it is released by the ISRO scientists – were negative. At the same time many of the scientists replied that they consider themselves to be ‘spiritual’.
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