The Speaking Tree
#1
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life/...898403.cms
This is a link to the Times of India the most circulated newspaper in India. They have this inane column called 'The Speaking Tree' and now they have brought it out as a special supplement every sunday for Rs. 1.50.

Why don't they have a science supplement on evolution instead, like David Attenborough's Tree of Life for example? Most people do not even know the basics of evolution other than saying man evolved from monkeys in a linear manner! Leaving creationists to ask stupid questions like 'then how come monkeys are still around' etc.

This is because they do not know how to make science interesting enough and present the evidence for a layperson like Dawkins and Attenbourough do.

Or that they would rather just sell inane stuff for which there is an unlimited supply, keep people ignorant and make money from nothing.
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#2
(14-Apr-2010, 08:37 AM)Sajit Wrote: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life/...898403.cms
This is a link to the Times of India the most circulated newspaper in India. They have this inane column called 'The Speaking Tree' and now they have brought it out as a special supplement every sunday for Rs. 1.50.

Why don't they have a science supplement on evolution instead, like David Attenborough's Tree of Life for example? Most people do not even know the basics of evolution other than saying man evolved from monkeys in a linear manner! Leaving creationists to ask stupid questions like 'then how come monkeys are still around' etc.

This is because they do not know how to make science interesting enough and present the evidence for a layperson like Dawkins and Attenbourough do.

Or that they would rather just sell inane stuff for which there is an unlimited supply, keep people ignorant and make money from nothing.

This is some pretty terrible stuff. What floors me is that they can bring it out for Rs. 1.50. Don't be disheartened, Sajith, two can play at that game. I think that in a few years we will have something similar to what you dream of- an inexpensive and good quality science newspaper for the masses. The Freethought Media Network is more necessary than any other work we do, except perhaps mobilizing and organizing the regional groups.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#3
(14-Apr-2010, 12:44 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote:
(14-Apr-2010, 08:37 AM)Sajit Wrote: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life/...898403.cms
This is a link to the Times of India the most circulated newspaper in India. They have this inane column called 'The Speaking Tree' and now they have brought it out as a special supplement every sunday for Rs. 1.50.

Why don't they have a science supplement on evolution instead, like David Attenborough's Tree of Life for example? Most people do not even know the basics of evolution other than saying man evolved from monkeys in a linear manner! Leaving creationists to ask stupid questions like 'then how come monkeys are still around' etc.

This is because they do not know how to make science interesting enough and present the evidence for a layperson like Dawkins and Attenbourough do.

Or that they would rather just sell inane stuff for which there is an unlimited supply, keep people ignorant and make money from nothing.

This is some pretty terrible stuff. What floors me is that they can bring it out for Rs. 1.50. Don't be disheartened, Sajith, two can play at that game. I think that in a few years we will have something similar to what you dream of- an inexpensive and good quality science newspaper for the masses. The Freethought Media Network is more necessary than any other work we do, except perhaps mobilizing and organizing the regional groups.

The TOI is the most expensive newspaper per square cm to advertise in and they dish out worthless supplements at Rs. 1.50 ! Imagine how much more educational a basic science supplement on evolution would be to start with.
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#4
Most people just don't want to think. That is the primary reason why religions have a strong appeal; you can remain ignorant and yet convince yourselves that you understand the world around you. Most people who consider themselves strongly religious won't even know about the philosophical underpinnings of their religion.

This laziness of people is what makes stupidities like TOI and Deccan Chronicle sell. They make you feel knowledgeable with minimum effort, providing good quality fodder for gossip. There was a time when newspapers reported facts and left the reader to derive their own opinions. Today's media cater to a public who don't want to form opinions. They want a pre-packaged opinion and define themselves based on what the mainstream media says is cool.

So it is not surprising that crap like "Speaking Tree" appear in TOI, the undisputed king of crap news in India.

Even if there are good science programs available for free, I don't think people will flock to them. We live in a time where people are more concerned with who Rakhi Sawant chose to marry than with what is happening in the Large Hadron Collider.
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#5
(14-Apr-2010, 08:24 PM)Lije Wrote: Most people just don't want to think. That is the primary reason why religions have a strong appeal; you can remain ignorant and yet convince yourselves that you understand the world around you. Most people who consider themselves strongly religious won't even know about the philosophical underpinnings of their religion.

This laziness of people is what makes stupidities like TOI and Deccan Chronicle sell. They make you feel knowledgeable with minimum effort, providing good quality fodder for gossip. There was a time when newspapers reported facts and left the reader to derive their own opinions. Today's media cater to a public who don't want to form opinions. They want a pre-packaged opinion and define themselves based on what the mainstream media says is cool.

So it is not surprising that crap like "Speaking Tree" appear in TOI, the undisputed king of crap news in India.

Even if there are good science programs available for free, I don't think people will flock to them. We live in a time where people are more concerned with who Rakhi Sawant chose to marry than with what is happening in the Large Hadron Collider.

Well said. This reminds me:-

"You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on" Robert Strauss to Bush.
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#6
People are fascinated by spiritual things because it's fun. Reading horoscopes, painting your room a certain colour because it promotes something good and wearing birth stones seems cool to them. I think "The Speaking Tree" just caters to that category of young people who want to read about spiritual bullshit and learn more ways to make their lives more interesting and mystical. That is why I think scientific literature for the masses is very important. Interesting, funny, concise and written in simple language is the type of literature that people might just read.
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#7
(23-Apr-2010, 04:30 PM)palaeo Wrote: People are fascinated by spiritual things because it's fun. Reading horoscopes, painting your room a certain colour because it promotes something good and wearing birth stones seems cool to them. I think "The Speaking Tree" just caters to that category of young people who want to read about spiritual bullshit and learn more ways to make their lives more interesting and mystical. That is why I think scientific literature for the masses is very important. Interesting, funny, concise and written in simple language is the type of literature that people might just read.

Thats true! And I despair when I see young people get carried away with this mumbo jumbo. Interesting scientists - Neil De Grasse Tyson has very captivating presentation skills and it is interesting to listen to his Nova Science program. Dr. V S Ramachandran is also another scientist that comes to mind with an interesting presentation.
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#8
I have seen quite a few interviews of VSR. He keeps mentioning how and why it is important to be overzealous and enthusiastic while explaining science. It rubs off! When Neil DeGrasse or VSR are speaking it's hard not to listen to them given their intonation, on stage histrionics and above all, plain yet contagious passion.
Murthy

"Credulity kills" -- Carl Sagan
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#9










The TOI is now publishing this man's gyan. Amusing to what levels people like this use misdirection and mumbo jumbo to confound the listener and get rich !
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaggi_Vasudev
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#10
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhyanalinga

They can't do without a linga either Wink
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#11
I believe that people do like to think. They just have a mental block when it comes to science. For years most people have been content to leave science to the scientist. Bad science reporting has made this situation worse. I feel that most of these spiritual and pseudo science books can be debunked with what most people learned in school. I was really angry when the speaking tree came out but it does not seem to be catching on. I might be wrong but i think as far as Bombay is concerned more people are interested in Mumbai Mirror (not necessarily a good thing). In the long run it is most important that science is made fun when kids are young. Many of my classmates are shocked at my interest in science, just because i studied and am still involved in Humanities. Anyway i have one more point. It is obvious but anyway. Without science to fill in questions of people's inquisitive minds charlatans publish trash that is made to sound smart and esoteric. In reality these writings are an insult to people's intelligence. Most people are just taken in by how these writers subtly subvert science. This is easy to understand. People believe that science is important, even though they do not find it exciting because of bad education. I think that many people have a complex from this and writings that are found in the spiritual tree make the questions of life easily accessible. In addition to this i think many of them find a world based on just scientific laws scary and make themselves believe that the supernatural exists in order to bring "purpose" to life (human life -- they always seem to forget animals)
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#12
I too find this column utterly frivolous and a waste of space. But we live in a time where people are becoming increasingly spiritual (whatever the hell that is) and less religious. Religion has strict rules, regulations and generally masquerades care and concern for the believer. Many of my friends find the term atheist repulsive; they say they are not religious, not atheists but spiritual.
Spirituality in my experience is a loose term that is a blanket term for all things mystical, concerned with the human soul and the butchering of valid scientific terms and ideas to fit inane lifestyle choices. The terms energy, pressure,frequency, light and rhythm are so abused in pseudo-scientific gab, that some people actually believe that coral stones or amethysts have negative and positive energies (auras).
So the question arises as to why people are willing to buy into this stuff. No clear minded individual would invest huge amounts of time and money buying semi-precious stones, arranging bronze frogs in various positions, or swallowing whole the bullCensored that Deepak Chopra spews about the Universe and frequencies. But many individuals who are schooled, well educated and in respectable jobs fall prey to this tosh. They lap up DVDs and books and try to become more like the gurus on television. Why? They are looking for some peace and more importantly some purpose.

Purpose. The quintessential term that defines the needs for religion or spirituality. The need to understand what we are here for. I as a rationalist and an atheist (but not a nihilist), see that there is no grand purpose. If life didn't exist, we wouldn't be here to think about it. We came out of a concerted sequence of events set into play purely by the assembly of conducive parameters. We were guided by the hand of natural selection. We live, procreate, pass on our genes and die. That's it. That's the purpose of life. But far from the nihilistic viewpoint that is attached to that ideology by religious folk, Dawkins writes beautifully that there is so much to see, appreciate and learn from the world around us. The mere knowledge of the heat death of the universe is enough to humble the most rabid preacher and the jaw-dropping enormity of the numbers involved inspires more awe and grandeur than the petty concept of god dreamed up by desert nomads. We will all die at one point, but it is important to understand that our existence is nothing compared to the infinitesimal life of our Universe. Realizing that is all the purpose and enlightenment we ever need.

So the matter of newspapers peddle out spiritual crap like this. Simply to sell newspapers. To be different from the other newspapers who don't have a spiritual section. To rake in well known spiritual gurus like the Shri Shri guy or the Lokpal guru and advertise the fact that they do so. It's no different than getting a celebrity writer to write a bland, obvious piece of commentary just to advertise later on Twitter that they roped in (some guy) to do a guest piece. The people demand this and the papers supply. Simple as that! Ohmy
And finally to conclude my comment (rather a long whimsical rant), newspapers will have sections like "Science and Technology", but it's a LONG ways off from bringing out an exclusive science primer for lay people. The point is that it won't sell. You have science mags and podcasts that cater exclusively to this need. Although it's not tested, TOI might run into loss if it brings out a science supplement. Save for few, no one is going to want to spend 2 or 3 bucks to learn about evolution; they want trash that wreaks of pseudo-profundity.

Cursing
Nick

And speaking of Deepak Chopra, you too can speak pseudo-profundity by taking a peek at this fill-up chart.
"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
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