Science and self-proclaimed progressives are today rather insular or perhaps even afraid of any alternative observation, explanation or inferencing methods or alternative methods of evidence. Instead of dissecting to understand it is lampoon and derision.

A few days ago, Mr Oscar Fernandez, prominent Congress leader revealed to RSTV that he got cured of terminal cancer courtesy cow urine and through Vajrasan avoided a certain knee replacement surgery. There were critical comments in social media on how backward looking he was and how unscientific such a mindset was.
Science and self-proclaimed progressives are today rather insular or perhaps even afraid of any alternative observation, explanation or inferencing methods or alternative methods of evidence. Instead of dissecting to understand it is lampoon and derision.
The desirable answer would have been a chemical decomposition of cows’ urine to see what basic chemicals or combination of chemicals is responsible for the cure. It may even have to do with a uniqueness in the sequence of processing within the cow’s digestive system.
Current day science wants to enjoy a lenience that it denies others. Take the case of genetic modification. We have no clue on 2nd gen or 3rd after effects which may happen or occur after 20-25 years, much like some snakebite toxins which lie dormant for several decades before striking all of a sudden, killing the victim within minutes. But we are fine accepting GM foods, seeds and crops with what could be deemed cursory studies on physical dimensions, growth rate, colour, odour, etc., but cold shoulder centuries old proven remedies dismissing them as superstitions, delusions, irrational etc. Like we have accepted some Covid vaccines now.
Science is highly sceptical about most alternative or native systems other than what we deem science, least doubting the statistical methods that it so extensively uses which are largely axiomatic than evidence or proofs of causality. Example: the method of OLS—ordinary least squares—the leading technique behind regression and correlation used so extensively in establishing causal connects is largely axiomatic. So, a study based on some 1,000 observations in 6-12 months with a confidence level of 90% is good enough for modern medicine but positive observations running for centuries or generations will be called un-science, dogma, prejudice, etc., fit only for ridicule.
The regrettable thing is that scientific temper and its spirit of enquiry and curiosity that led to several startling discoveries are increasingly being overshadowed by commercial considerations. With a stretch, if gravity had not been discovered earlier, I doubt that with the scientific temper of 2020 we will ever discover it. Unless, of course, someone dangles a $20 billion corporate profit prospect or a million dollar annual bonus.
Cow’s urine also would have been analyzed if a similar commercial carrot had been dangled. Unfortunately, cows are too ubiquitous and urine uncontrolled in supply so not much chance of profiteering exists. However, if someone were to observe that only a specific species of Kansas or Kanchipuram cows have it in them, not all, of course “corporatized” science will study it, patent it and profit from it. And science will prove it in six months.
There is a vast reservoir of observations across various cultures and countries over several centuries going in the name of tradition and culture, proverbs and metaphors and many being used or practised as traditional medicine, home remedies or grandma’s prescriptions, often with positive outcomes. Science with an inquisitive urge would have lapped up the opportunity to examine this vast reservoir first and accept or reject them. Some of them can lead to discoveries as startling as gravity or magnetism or spherical earth and many might get rejected.
Examination and assimilation of Tibetan medicine as indeed Ayurveda, might lead to effective remedies for several diseases like cancer, digestive disorders, arthritis etc., at may be 1/100th the current costs and much less side effects. Science can do this without any conflict with its other pursuits in space exploration, genetics, AI/IT and destructive military missiles.
Will science stand as a reclusive bully using causality as a weapon of exclusion, rather than serve mankind by re-examining “unscience” blowing myths and assimilating “truths” within its fold remains to be seen. Pursuit of profits will sure stand in the way.
V. Kumaraswamy is the author of Weird Adventures, Uncommon Lessons (Authors Point)