The organisers of a major Indian science conference distanced themselves Sunday from speakers who used the prestigious event to dismiss Einstein’s discoveries and claim ancient Hindus invented stem cell research.
The Indian Scientific Congress Association expressed “serious concern” as the unorthodox remarks aired by prominent academics at its annual conference attracted condemnation and ridicule.
The distinguished gathering of Indian researchers and scientists hosts Nobel laureates, but in recent years has seen Hindu mythology and faith-based theories edging onto the agenda.
At this year’s congress, the head of a southern Indian university cited an ancient Hindu text as proof that stem cell research was discovered on the subcontinent thousands of years ago.
“We had 100 Kauravas from one mother because of stem cell and test tube technology,” said G. Nageshwar Rao, Vice Chancellor at Andhra University, referring to a story from the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
Rao, who was addressing school children and scientists at the event, also said a demon king from another centuries-old Hindu epic had two dozen aircraft and a network of landing strips in modern-day Sri Lanka.
“Hindu Lord Vishnu used guided missiles known as ‘Vishnu Chakra’ and chased moving targets,” added the professor of inorganic chemistry.
Event organisers tried to hose down the remarks, saying it was “unfortunate” the prestigious event had been derailed by controversy.
Here is the full account, via Anecdotal. My point here is not to make fun of India, which I am a big admirer of. Rather, successful science requires many, many cultural dimensions, not just a few, and those dimensions must be applied consistently. India has an active and mostly successful space program, is a world leader in cheap and effective heart surgery, and in general the country is teeming with innovation, including in the culinary realm I might add.
So many of you take the cultural prerequisites of science for granted, and yes Max Weber still is underrated.