Have you ever analyzed your way of thinking? Do you think rationally, logically, without being biased? Do you follow a step-wise method to analyze any situation? If yes, then you think like a scientist. You may not be a science person but you have a scientific temperament and this scientific temperament is essential for developing curiosity, spirit of enquiry and for igniting minds. Let’s understand the meaning of scientific temper. The word ‘SCIENCE’ has been derived from the Latin word ‘scientia’, meaning knowledge. It is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions and ‘TEMPER’ means a person’s state of mind.
Scientific temper describes an attitude that involves the application of logic, rational thinking and employing a scientific method of discussion in everyday life. The term was first used by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, in his book, The Discovery of India–
‘‘[What is needed] is the scientific approach, the adventurous and yet critical temper of science, the search for truth and new knowledge, the refusal to accept anything without testing and trial, the capacity to change previous conclusions in the face of new evidence, the reliance on observed fact and not on preconceived theory, the hard discipline of the mind – all this is necessary not merely for the application of science, but for life itself and the solution of its many problems.’’
By-– Jawaharlal Nehru (The Discovery Of India) 1946}
It is a temperament which can help in getting solutions for many problems. It’s an attitude, a way of life, seeing things rationally without being biased and having preconceived notions. It’s not about thinking of science, it’s about a scientific way of thinking, before coming to any conclusion. Scientific temper refers to the methods of science which can not only be applied to the subjects but also to situations, problems and also hypothesis which may not lend themselves to measurements and therefore the word ‘science’ is attached to the subjects like Social Science, Political Science, Home Science and so on. Scientific temper is a mindset that results from repeated reliance on the basic method of science to solve problems of all kinds.
Nurturing scientific temper and spirit of enquiry is the need of hour. Will you be surprised if I say it’s a way to exhibit patriotism? Yes, it is true – there are eleven Fundamental duties of the citizens of India in our constitution –
Article 51A(F) of the constitution defines the fundamental duty of every citizen to “develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of enquiry and reform.”
It is essential to develop citizens who have ignited minds who can think scientifically because if we have scientific temperament, we inevitably organize the facts, learn terminology and use scientific procedures.If we are able to develop scientific temperament, we can develop many characteristics in a person like open mindedness, readiness to question, suspension of belief, critical and rational thinking, application of logic and reasoning, avoidance of biased and preconceived notions, reliance on evidence based judgement, seeking explanations that are consistent with well established laws of science, positive approach to failure and willingness to consider alternative explanations.
A person with scientific temper becomes self- disciplined and self-corrective and this is what is the need of the hour. We need our generations to develop such temperament, such kind of thinking which can help in avoiding unnecessary conflicts and illogical thinking. A lot of mistakes and superstitious beliefs can be avoided being repeated by thinking scientifically. We need to develop convergent systems of scientific thought. This way of thinking only, can lead to the growth and development of ourselves, our society and our country.
‘For thinking Big, we have to think scientifically.’
Developing scientific temper is not an easy task. Even the great Galileo had to fight the might of the Roman Catholic Church to gain acceptance of the idea. Here comes the role of teaching of science. If the students are exposed to the fundamental nature of science as an experiment centered discipline, a scientific attitude automatically develops towards looking at problems in everyday life. An environment needs to be developed for the children where they can question, observe, analyze and then get the answers of what, why, when, where and how. It’s a responsibility of every one of us to promote spirit of enquiry. It can be done both inside and outside classroom by -Analysis of wrong beliefs ,Using personal examples, Planning exercises, Inclusion of Co-curricular activities in Science programme, Effective use of Laboratory periods, , Celebration of National Scientific Temper Day (20 August) and making use of Scientific Literature etc.
Some religious persons may follow rituals which are not proved by believers and others may not accept religious beliefs as they don’t find any scientific background behind that. Religions are founded on beliefs whereas Scientific temper is based on questioning. Scientific temper and religious practices can coexist without any conflicts but for this we should never have “If you are not with us – you are against us” approach. This coexistence is vital for our Indian society where we have a constitution that gives liberty of religious practices and also prescribes duty of Scientific Temper.
As said by Buddha –
“Rely not on the teacher/person but on the teaching,
Rely not on the words of the teaching,but on the spirit of the words,
Rely not on theory but on experience,
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it,
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations,
Do not believe anything because it is spoken and rumoured by many,
Do not believe in anything because it is written in your religious books,
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders,
But after observation and analysis when you find that anything agrees with reason
And is conducive to the good and the benefit of one and all,
Then accept it and live up to it.”
Not only children but there is a call for people of all age groups to develop scientific way of thinking. The campaign to ignite minds by promoting scientific temper must inculcate values like equality and dignity of all human beings, justice, dignity of labour and social accountability of ones actions. All these are essential for bringing about social, economic and cultural transformations. We sincerely hope that Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision of scientifically tempered society will not continue to remain a distant dream. Let all scientists, teachers, parents, educationists, politicians, technologists and media persons come together to undertake the responsibility of developing scientific temper. Let us try to ignite minds, let us nurture scientific temper and spirit of enquiry and take it as a national task. Let us perform our duty as Indian citizen as rightly quoted by Sir John Herschel -A mind which has once imbibed a taste for scientific enquiry and has learnt the habit of applying its principles readily to the cases which occur, has within itself an inexhaustible source of pure and exciting contemplations.