My current complaint is with those individuals who claim that science can explain everything.
As a scientist, I hate science.
Supriya Thukral

Related to this, there is also the attitude that “science has not explained this, therefore it is not true”. This is not exactly the same point as you were making, but some people have the habit of dismissing things that are traditionally known saying “That hasn’t been scientifically proven”.

One example I have is the tradition of using a coconut to prospect for water. The prospector walks around holding the coconut in his palm, and, when he walks over an area below which water flows, the coconut apparently stands up of its own accord. The catch is that it only works for some people, and not everybody can do it.

When my family was looking to dig a well, we called in a water prospector to find a suitable spot. Once it was done, the rest of us tried our hands walking over the spot with a coconut, but none of us got it standing (though in one case the coconut did rise marginally).

Later, we were discussing this with a friend who didn’t believe in the coconut theory. He said that they just make it up to make money. Anyway, he decided to take the coconut and walk over the patch of land…and the coconut stood up!

Now, whenever a well needs digging, the locals keep calling the friend to prospect for them! And, it seems to be actually working.

Of course, this is anecdotal evidence. There are probably alternative explanations for how this happened. A lot of people who heard this story think it’s probably a coincidence. But the point is that it may not be one.

It’s true that a lot of traditional knowledge and folklore is just, well, folklore. But there is a lot that isn’t, and it is dismissed simply because science is yet to discover it. I remember reading of a recent study which discovered the hidden benefits of turmeric, something that has been common tribal knowledge for generations.

Science is a good tool to find out about the world around us, and it’s true that, if science has verified it, then it probably works. We should definitely not blindly believe any (non-scientific) theories and rumours that come around. But neither should we blindly disbelieve something just because it hasn’t been scientifically tested.

If the coconut theory was investigated properly, it could well lead on to a new discovery. Instead, if it is blindly rejected as “un-scientific”, we might be missing out on something.

I think my point is that we can’t just dismiss something that hasn’t been described by science. It could be only that science hasn’t described it yet. (This is in addition to the big questions that, as you have written, science cannot answer at all).

OK, this has turned out to be a long response and only tangentially related to the topic. But since my fingers have already typed it out, I might as well ask: what’s your take on this?

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