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National Science Day: Embrace scientific temper, fight health misinformation

Published on February 28, 2022

The pandemic has exposed our knowledge gap. There’s an urgent need to promote evidence-based reasoning and interdisciplinary approach, powered by collaboration.

By Jisha Krishnan

India celebrates National Science Day on February 28 every year. It is a celebration of the discovery of the Raman Effect – a discovery that earned Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, an Indian physicist, the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930. The idea behind the day was to encourage young minds to develop interest in science and understand its significance.

Today, as the world struggles to cope with an unprecedented influx of misinformation and disinformation, there’s an urgent need to promote evidence-based reasoning. Not just among young students, but also among people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds, across geographies.

In many ways, the pandemic has exposed our knowledge gap. Misconceptions about vaccination, for instance, shifted the public focus away from the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines, towards distrust in science and fear of possible side-effects. Similarly, there has been no dearth of miracle cures and natural remedies for the tenacious virus.

At First Check, a signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), we have seen that the claims which sound too good to be true, most often are! We also know that vaccination is one of the most effective health interventions to prevent certain infectious diseases. And its importance during the outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases cannot be overstated.

The biggest challenge is to ensure that only credible information and facts prevail. First Check harnesses the power of collaboration with our global community of healthcare experts, researchers, data scientists and journalists to do fact-check stories on health.

As individuals and societies, we need to constantly develop scientific temper. In The Discovery of India, Jawaharlal Nehru defines it as “a way of life — an individual and social process of thinking and acting which uses a scientific method which may include questioning, observing reality, testing, hypothesising, analysing and communicating.”

India is the first and, perhaps, only country to explicitly adopt scientific temper in its constitution. On this National Science Day, as we pay tribute to the iconic physicist (who discovered how the wavelength of light scatters when deflected on a particular object), let’s pledge to embrace scientific temper to fight health misinformation.

The next time you come across any health-related misinformation, share it with us and we’ll fact-check it. You can mail us at hello@firstcheck.in or WhatsApp us on +91 9311 223145.