Monday, September 19, 2005

interview with Vilayanur S.Ramachandran, neuro scientist

Who’s this ‘ Dr.Vilayanur S.Ramachandran ? Read interview in Sunday Express Sunday, September 18, 2005. Scientist with a scientific and volatile temper, with balls who calls spade a spade, and Gen.Dyer, a bastard, and the Western race , as a bunch of ‘ blue eyed albino monsters’, in print ! A scientist with a keen sense of scientific history and human history in general ; outspoken, opinionated , with ‘ in your face’ forthrightness ! I’m bowled by this interview. I’m gonna blog it in cyber gipsy. Just in case I don’t find this interview in Ind.Express web site ! Now, the excerpts part !
Ramana. Hie is an eminent brain scientist in the world today.

His Scientific Heros : Michael Faraday and Thomas Huxley. Faraday moved a magnet to and fro , with a coil of wire, and connected 2 entire fields of physics ; electricity and magnetism. Huxley is admired for bringing science to ‘ common people ‘ ( to use Huxley’s own phrase ) without dumbing it down !

Modern Scientific Heroes : Norm Geschwind and Francis Crick . Both of whom had sheer fun in doing science than anyone I know !

Best advice he got for doing research : (1) Better to tackle 10 fundamental problems and solve one, instead of taking on 10 trivial problems and solving them all. Nature isn’t conspiring against us by making fundamental problems more difficult.
(2) Don’t become trapped in small cul-de-sacs of specialization because you feel comfortable.
Awards he’s proud of : BBC’s Reith Lectureship. Many previou Reith Lectures have been turning oints in Western civilization and were given by my boyhood heroes – Rusel, Peter Medawar, Robert Oppenheimer and Arnold Toynbee.

On Genetic Ethics : Few people realize that, the Nazi movement – the desire to create an albino, blue-eyed master race – didn’t begin in Germany. It began in Cold Spring Harbor in America, two decades earlier and was later adopted by Hitler. The eugenic movement, spearheaded by Charles Davenport, resulted in the mass sterilization of thousands of “ imbeciles, prostitutes, criminals, homosexuals, and epileptics “, in Virginia. Even alcoholics were sterilized. ( now, search wiki/ clusty about this ! )

Since 1930 s, when Jew immigrants were subjected to IQ tests in US and were rejected ‘cos, they were considered ‘ feeble minded’. Ironic that, since then, ratio of Jewish Vs.non-Jewish Nobel prize-winners has been about 10 to 1. Combine this with the fact that Jew constitute only 5 % of US population !!
There is no excuse the way ‘ mainstream ‘ Indian treated Adivasis, the tribal, in the past !

On Dyer : I have been reading this Dyer biography, who massacred 700 people and became British National Hero. He may have had a genetic defect, or may have been born with congenital newro-syphilis from his mother, when she might have slept with her Pankha Wallah !

On Bioethical and cultural issues : Consider what has happened to American Indians since cowboys took over their land ! Many thouands died, but even worse, they were triped of their culture, their identity , their very meaning of existence. Corralled into reservations and striped of their dignity, many became alcoholic – their lives had no meaning anymore ! All this has nothing to do with their intellectual ability – they are of Mongoloid stock whose IQ is, if anything, 10 points higher than that of cowboys !
My deepest fear is that, there will come a time when the whole world succumbs to the inevitable onslaught of corporate homogenization – the modern equivalent of cowboys driving Indians close to extinction. We need a new word for this cultural genocide – the word doesn’t exist yet, but the phenomenon itself is extremely widespread. Everyone will be wearing Nike, laying Pokemon, and consuming hamburgers.

What we now call ‘ cultures’, ‘ countries’ and ‘ civilizations’ will shrink progressively into little theme parks and mueums for our children to gawk at !

If you want to know what this brave new corporate world culture will be like, 50 years from now, just look at Las Vegas today. It’ a microcosm of America – the ultimate monument to cororate greed, vanity and sterility of the imagination.

India did have a civilizing influence on all South East Asian countries, like Thailand, Burma, China, Combodia, Indonesia etc, which manifest in their artistic and cultural values. But all these were achieved by peaceful means, by blending Indian and Far Eastern values ; and not by coersive homogenization or Disneyfication.

My comments are intended to set the recordd straight and put the things in perspective , in order to newtralize the Eurocentric bias of Western historians.

But in singing the glory of India, I have no desire to provide ammunition to the ultra right-wing Hindutvas.

On Indian weaknesses : Indians “ knew” the Pythogoras Theoram a millennium before Pythagora, they did not bother to prove it ! To Euclid, and Euclid alone, we owe the concept of proof – of deducing a whole edifice from a set of simple axioms.

Even more amazingly, neither Indians nor Greeks understood the concept of an experiment !! We had to wait for an Italian, Galileo, for that. Until he came along, people simply didn’t understand that the only way to unravel Nature’s secrets is – to vary one thing at a time, and keeing everything else constant. Both Indians and Greeks wer arrogant ; they considered themelves too smart to get their hand dirty. Why do experiments, when you can figure it all out in your head ?
Aristotle relied on “ common sense “ to claim that, heavy objects fall faster to the ground than the light ones. And we had to wait for 2000 years, till Newton came along, for proof.
Indeed, the very notion of an experiment is alien to the human mind, whether Greek, Indian, English or Chinese and for that reason , Galileo is rightly regarded as one of the supreme geniuses of the human race !
The ‘ great man’ theory of history is unfashionable among the left wing social scientists and historians, but I can assure them that, without the likes of Euclid, Panini, Aryabhatta, and Galileo, there would be no modern science !


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