Internet: science, pseudoscience, and gibberish

The Internet, a boon of science, technology and research, brought with its advent a revolution, especially in the arena of knowledge and information. The sources of knowledge and information have grown so fast that it’s getting hard to catch up with the inflow. A good thing nonetheless, but it has brought with itself loads of crap that gets shared in the name of science. One gets to see all sorts of  crap, that sleazy human minds can ever come up with, being shared on the Internet. Everyone out there is seemingly armed with a hell lot of science/technology/knowledge to prove his beliefs that range from natural to supernatural/spiritual and way beyond. There are three things that we get in the name of science on Internet: actual science, pseudo-science, and pure gibberish. It’s hard to differentiate between pseudoscience and gibberish, heck, the way things get shared on Internet it becomes even harder to differentiate between science and gibberish. And we, the gullible people, have to face it all, swim in the sea of information where waves of so-called knowledge hit our poor brains, and then have to decide what’s worth being taken in. Here, I will talk about few (of the enormous) instances of pseudo-science and gibberish that I have come across on Internet, and further I will talk about how we should try to deal with it and how to know whether what we’re learning is science or not.

I constantly come across spiritual and spirituality related posts, and I constantly keep ignoring them, but I can’t when someone tries to relate scientific concepts like Quantum Mechanics with spirituality. I have read many such posts, and at the end I would just wonder, good graciousness, these fellows are really good at playing with the damn words! Trust me, if you would just go through the complex mathematics involved in Quantum Mechanics, you won’t just forget all the hullabaloo about spirituality but your body will even lose the ‘spirit’ after studying those weird equations, which I’m pretty sure you won’t be even able to read in the first go. There’s nothing spiritual about quantum mechanics, how can there be when the complexity of concepts and equations takes the soul out of you? Just ask those who are actually involved in the field of quantum mechanics. Believe me, whenever I try to study quantum mechanics I don’t feel that the state of my soul is getting elevated, I just get a frigging headache. And then there’s the poor relativity of time. If we have to mourn something let’s mourn the crucifixion of this concept of physics at the altar of logic each day. What people have made out of time-travel, thanks to science fiction and sci-fi movies, is a tragic story of gibberish being preached as science. I try to think about poor physicists who have to face such things being shared as theories of physics each day, those heartbreaks, we just can’t imagine! Then you have people talking about science in their religion and their religious books, and everyone around you trying hard to interpret their religious texts in a certain way so as to fit them in some of the existing scientific theories. It’s done on such a scale that it seems like every religious book out there was actually a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

I would like to specially mention the pseudo-science and gibberish being shared in the name of computer science because that’s my own field of interest and work. Again the sci-fi movies and some self-proclaimed ‘higher-science’ websites have created a very distorted version of various concepts/theories of computer science in the minds of people. When we start talking about Artificial Intelligence, people start coming up with weird interpretations. They just instantly start talking about robots who are mechanical equivalent of human beings, that’s the only interpretation most people come up with. Or they would start talking about the upcoming war between robots and human beings that’ll wipe humanity out of existence, which thanks to some ‘scientists’ is getting a lot of unwanted promotion. This is outrageous, we are yet to develop a machine that can pass the Turing Test, and we are already talking about a frigging imaginary war that these damn machines will start against us! Artificial Intelligence is simply intelligence exhibited by machines, it can range from doing basic things to extremely complex functions. We have self-driving cars, game systems, and data interpretation as various forms of Artificial Intelligence. There were few technologies that were once considered to be under the definition of Artificial Intelligence but not anymore, because as time passed we realized that those were just ‘mechanical functions’ lacking any sort of intelligence. Nowadays we keep hearing about scientists trying to replicate human brain by uploading it into a machine. This is absolutely funny, this is hilarious! We haven’t even been able to map the brain structure completely, how can anyone talk about uploading it? Let’s say you have mapped the brain structure completely, how are you going to store it in the form of memory? Are you going to store the brain structure in storage devices like hard-disks or flash drives? Are you going to use one of the existing structures of databases to do that, really? Are you that naive? If you have developed a new  a new structure of databases why aren’t you talking about that first? If no, how’s it then going to function like a brain? And how do you think will a brain work without input from all the sensory organs that are there in a normal human body? I am surprised that those people who share such things don’t think about these basic questions. Let’s just go a bit further and assume that the brain in stored in memory in such a form that we can make it work like an actual brain. But, here comes the very basic question. Do you have enough processor power/speed and enough memory power/speed to make a machine work like an actual brain? The answer is simply no. We’re nowhere close to such processor/memory power and speed that is required to make an artificial human-brain. There is a huge gap between processor and memory speed due to which low memory speed acts as a bottleneck and we aren’t even able to solve it and fill that gap yet. Even if we wish to develop such a brain-system we first need to address the very basic scientific/technological issues, which unfortunately and surprisingly these guys don’t talk about.

One comes across numerous such instances each day where we have to put up with trash shared in the name of science. Those are just a few instances of strange things being shared on the Internet and then through the eternal human gossip-chain. I think a lot of people have already tried to debunk the farcical things being shared on Internet, but they still keep spreading like a plague. Now, the issue is how to deal with such a huge inflow of gibberish and pseudo-science. The basic thing is to think, to question, not be idiots (well, that’s hard for most of us). Don’t accept everything you find on Internet as some sort of fact. If we find something new on Internet we should try to look up for counter-views about that. We just need to gauge the validity of these new theories on a scientific scale, that keep popping up on the Internet.  If we want to learn science, we should try reading actual science text-books, and listen to professors/scientists that actually exist in the real world, we shouldn’t just listen to these ghosts and their ghost theories on Internet. And there’s no dearth of authentic resources on Internet, we just need to be observant and have a keen-looking eye and a keen mind.Wikipedia, that’s one place where we get authentic science knowledge for free, but shockingly a lot of people keep speaking against it, even when they don’t understand the very basic functioning of this website. In case of science, technology, and related information we can easily trust Wikipedia. There are lots of other websites and science forums,  we just have to keep looking with an inquisitive mind we will find a lot of authentic and genuine web-based science resources, and always remember: don’t fall trap to pseudo-science or gibberish! 

P.S. There’s a very high possibility that even I might have shared some pseudo-scientific nonsense or gibberish in the name of science. Talk about the curse, it affects all! 

Advertisements

My spring isn’t too far away

​I will write a thousand eulogies,

To mourn the death of my garden.

Where the flowers had bloomed,

Only to be crushed by the cold wind.

The wind took life out of my garden,

But it didn’t kill me,

While I breathed the same air.

The flowers died, it seems,

Out of my own indifference!

Now, in the season of withered leaves,

And dried-up thoughts,

I will paint my garden green,

And the flowers of my imaginations

Will bloom again.

Life is coming back to my garden,

Riding upon the winds from mountains.

I can feel the winds of life,

My spring isn’t too far away.