Actions based solely on tradition and unreasoned belief, even when done in good faith, generally cause more harm than good. The festival of Nag Panchami celebrated by Hindus sometime around July-August brings this issue to the fore. During this festival the bhakt jan worship snakes by offering them sweets, flowers, and milk. But if these were just offerings, things would not have been so bad for the snakes. As it happens, the snakes are also fed milk.
Milk is a product which is exclusively produced by mammals to feed their young ones. Members of the animal kingdom other than mammals including reptiles, birds, amphibians etc. do not produce milk and thus are very unlikely to have a liking for it. Not just non-mammals, a significant proportion of adult humans lack enzymes to properly digest milk, which is meant for the consumption by their young ones, and are lactose intolerant. Snakes are no exception. They do not possess the necessary enzymes to digest milk. In fact milk is toxic to snakes and generally proves lethal if consumed. But if snakes do not drink milk, what about those who claim to have seen them doing so on nag Panchami. As it happens, a snake is kept thirsty by the snake charmer for many days prior to Nag Panchami. The snake is dehydrated to such an extent that it will consume any liquid that is brought in its proximity.
Not just forcefully feeding milk to the snake, the entire ritual including coercing them to move around; sprinkling turmeric, flowers and vermillion; and carrying them around hordes of people is mentally traumatizing to the poor animal. The stress it go through turns out to be fatal most of the times.
The association of nags with Lord Shiva has elevated their status to the divine. We wish to get rid of evils from our lives by serving them. However, our ignorance and blind faith have clouded our thinking so much that we find it difficult to accept even the most basic facts. If we treat snakes as humble living thinks, like many other marvels of the nature, and just let them be, we would be doing them better service.
Ask any high school kid, “What is the visible spectrum of the electromagnetic (EM) radiation” and most will correctly answer that the visible spectrum is that part of the EM radiation which can be seen by human eyes and lies in the wavelength range between 300nm and 700nm. But few ever ponder on the question, why do human eyes see between 300 nm and 700 nm. To answer this question we need to understand the relation between the black-body radiation and temperature.
Every blackbody at a temperature above 0 kelvin (-273oC) emits EM radiation. Rather than emitting radiation at a single wavelength, the blackbody emits a range or a spectrum. A curve can be constructed with λ on the x-axis and intensity of the radiation on the y-axis. This is called the black-body radiation curve. The curve is bell shaped with the intensity of radiation peaking at a certain λ, called λmax. Wilhelm Wien discovered that the EM spectrum of black-body radiation shifts towards shorter wavelengths as the temperature increases. The equation describing this shift is written as:
λmax = b/T
where, T is the temperature in kelvins and b is a constant called Wien’s displacement constant.
The effective temperature of the sun’s surface is 5778 K, which puts out peak radiation at about 500 nm. This is the green portion of the light, exactly the same as the peak intensity of the human eye.
From an evolutionary perspective it makes perfect sense for diurnal animals like humans to develop eyes that are most sensitive to that part of the spectrum which is most abundant. But not all animals need to sense the visible spectrum to survive. Snakes such as pit vipers prey on warm blooded mammals like rats which maintain their body temperatures at around 310 K, which is warmer than their surroundings. This temperature corresponds to a peak radiation at around 10 µm in the far infrared. They have therefore evolved infrared sensing organs for detecting these wavelengths to aid them in hunting.
In summary, human eyes are sensitive to the 400 nm – 700 nm spectrum of the EM radiation because this is the most abundant radiation on earth during day time. The temperature of the sun’s surface is the reason that the visible spectrum is the most abundant.
The most common eyesight problem in young people is myopia or nearsightedness, i.e. they have difficulty in clearly viewing the objects that are far away. Hypermetropia or farsightedness is more common in older people. They can clearly see far off objects but have difficulty in reading what’s right in front of them. I myself am myopic and have been wearing glasses since I was 13. Over the years, I have met many people advising me to eat healthy stuff or to visit Dr. XYZ who could make my eyesight better with just a few months of some eye-drop prescription. But I knew better.
First, the diet that is believed to be good for eyes includes fruits and vegetables that are rich in Vitamin A – carrots, mangoes etc. But V-A helps in preventing night blindness, which results from the depressed production of light sensing carotenoids in the retina. V-A has nothing to do with the bending and focusing of the light on to the retina. This task is left to the cornea and the eye lens. Hence, nutritious diet can help you see better in low light but can’t help you get rid of your eyeglasses.
Most eyesight problems occur because the eyeball is either too long (nearsightedness) or too short (farsightedness). This results in the light being focused either in front of the retina or behind it causing blurry vision. Most myopic people have extra-long eyeballs that get even longer as you grow. This is the reason that the power of prescription glasses keeps increasing every year during the phase your height is increasing and stabilizes after puberty.
I don’t believe there is any medicine available which can change the size of your eyeball. So, I wouldn’t trust the doctors who claim to help me improve my vision through medication. Laser surgery might help because in this the doctor modifies the curvature of the cornea so that the light entering the eye is focused on to the right areas.
So, carrots, amla, and almonds won’t help you get rid of your eyeglasses. But keep eating them because they have tons of other benefits. Also, click on the link below to watch the video brought to you by SciShow if you want to know more.
“I WAS THE LADY CHARMER OF MY COLLEGE.”
Homeopathy is as fake as the statement above. There are multiple scientific pieces of evidence that prove that homeopathy is no better than a placebo in curing diseases. Quackery, nonsense, and fraud are some words that have been used in the scientific literature to describe this practice that was first proposed in the 18th century by a German physician – Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann. This pseudo-science is based on the principle that “like kills like.” The proponents of homeopathy may reason that a vaccine works in a similar fashion, but where on one hand a vaccine introduces a weakened/killed form of virus or bacterium in the body to provoke its immune response, “like kills like” makes the baseless assumption that what causes similar symptoms can cure those symptoms. If a snake bite will give you cardiac arrest, use snake venom to treat a heart attack. But the funny thing is that do not even give you
the snake venom; if they did, you would surely die more easily because of the medicine than the disease. The degree to which the substance is diluted is beyond imagination. They take one part substance and mix it with ten parts water. But the snake venom would still kill you at such concentrations. So, one part of this solution is diluted with 10 parts water and the process is repeated until the solution has one part of the substance in 10^20 parts of water. Try putting a drop of ink in sea water. All the oceans in the world do not have enough water to dilute it to the levels desired by homeopaths. The concentration is equivalent to one drop of the substance in an ocean the size of our solar system. Which means that there is not a single molecule of the substance in your medicine, it’s just water or sugar.
“The continued practice of homeopathy has been criticized by many as being dangerous because it prevents the patient from seeking proper treatment that relies on scientifically proven methods.”
But could homeopathy be something beyond being just a quack? Yes, it’s dangerous! The continued practice of homeopathy has been criticized by many as being dangerous because it prevents the patient from seeking proper treatment that relies on scientifically proven methods. Some people may falsely perceive positive effects of homeopathy, but that can be attributed to the following reasons:
- human body has self-healing abilities: many injuries and diseases will be automatically cured by our own immune system given enough time, even if no treatment is taken;
- sometimes even fake medicines can provide relief due to the placebo effect, i.e. just a psychological benefit; and
- some studies that have been conducted by the proponents of homeopathy may show positive effects beyond placebo just by chance. If 20 studies are conducted, one of them is likely to, just by pure coincidence, conclude that homeopathy is effective. If I ask every person on the earth to write down that they are going to die today, I could conclude in tomorrow’s paper that there were more than 1,50,000 psychics in the world who knew exactly when they are going to die. But of course, you would not believe me because this is the average number of people who die every day.
Despite the increasing evidence of homeopathy’s complete ineffectiveness in treating diseases, the multi-million-dollar industry continues to thrive, jeopardizing the lives of the people who believe in it. I would humbly beg you to talk to your close-ones about this fraud practice or to at least initiate a discussion if you are not convinced.
Most of you must have seen those shows on News Channels where Astrologers or Tarot Card readers give out the daily predictions for different Zodiac signs. Some of you might have read horoscopes in newspapers just for entertainment, out of curiosity or just because you believe that they are true. However, there is no denying that superstition and ignorance are widely prevalent in our society. There is a misconception in people, even in the educated ones to believe that astrology is a real science.
They even confuse between “astrology” which is a “pseudo-science” and “astronomy” which is a “well-established scientific discipline”. Through this article, I will bust the myths associated with this charlatanism but before going into that let’s check out the definitions of the relevant terms to be used in this article:
Astrology: the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world.
Astronomy: the branch of science which deals with celestial objects, space, and the physical universe as a whole.
Sun signs: Astrologers have divided the sky into 12 regions represented by Zodiac signs like Libra, Leo etc. Sun sign refers to the part of sky occupied by the Sun at the time of birth of an individual.
Horoscope: Prediction of the future events in an individual’s life based on Zodiac or sun sign.
Myths of Astrology
Over the years, I have met lots of people irrespective of their educational backgrounds or knowledge in science, who genuinely believe in astrology, horoscope, Zodiac signs etc. and they claim that:
- Astrologers have correctly predicted about their ongoing life events as well the future ones and their advice have helped them in their personal life (relationships, career, business etc.) For e.g. love life/grades got better, got a job etc. and they attribute all this to the astrology.
- Zodiac signs are true predictors of one’s personality or nature.
Logical Vision was started by two graduates from IIT Roorkee due to their shared concern that there are plenty of myths prevalent in the Indian Society that have no logical or scientific underpinnings. These myths have been passed from parents to their children for so many generations and have become so deeply rooted that many times we mistake them for facts. And it is not just the uneducated who are ignorant. Our experiences with people in IITs and other higher-education institutes have taught us that a majority of us have never questioned these beliefs. But we are here to change that.
Is homeopathic medication effective, is astrology a real science, are house lizards poisonous, are snakes fond of milk, and can I drink water after tea? These are the kind of questions we would like to educate our audience about. And don’t worry if some of these seem downright bizarre. The posts on this blog are just meant to stir the thoughts inside your head. Get out there and do your own research. Question other people, search the net, post in the comments or drop us an email. Do not believe anything, including the posts on this blog until you are entirely convinced.
Also, please visit my brother’s website www.chewtab.com which is an is an upcoming internet media company based in New Delhi.
Common wall gecko
No, they are not, although you may fall sick after consuming food with a lizard in it. But the reason would be the pathogenic bacteria that the lizard might be carrying and not poison. The house lizard is itself non-poisonous. In fact, very few species of lizards, such as the gila monster, are poisonous. All reptiles and birds carry salmonella bacteria which can make you sick. You are as likely to get sick from eating a lizard as you are from eating a chicken. So, if you find a lizard in your food just remember to cook it properly to kill off any harmful bacteria before consuming it. The events of mass deaths in social gatherings such as marriage receptions owing to food poisoning are generally attributed to a lizard falling in the food. But most often than not food poisoning is due to botulinum toxin or simply due to mixing with chemicals such as rat poison, weed killer etc.
Moral of the story: if so many common and supposedly intellectual people from our country can be wrong about a fact as simple as this, how can I trust them with more complex matters such as the impact of position of stars on my life. I have met many people in my life who claim to know the deeper secrets of life, people who claim to be all knowing and enlightened. But none of them taught me this simple fact. No religious text taught me this, science did. And that is why I fucking love science.
Maybe I will have to boil a lizard in my milk and consume it to prove my point.