Scientific discoveries and a falsifying evidence
This article is second in the part of series that discusses the propositions of Sh. Nilesh Nilkanth Oak on the date of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. The primary source of information for this article is the talk organized by the Srijan Foundation at the Press Club of India. The topic of the talk was-Dating of Mahabharata and Ramayana.
For the first article, Please click here: https://indictales.com/2017/02/06/different-routes-to-date-mahabharata-and-ramayana/
There are many critics of Nilesh’s propositions on the date of Mahabharata and Ramayana. To respond to this criticism one needs to understand, How does our scientific knowledge grow? So, Corroboration is or the validation is how we solve the problem and falsification removes the Status Quo. It is a little complicated and this is how one can understand it in simple ways, how science progresses.
Science doesn’t progress as much by insisting or by proving that this is how it is. This is the answer, that’s not how its progresses. But it definitely progresses by proving or disproving existing understanding or existing explanation. So, it makes progress by saying,”Definitely! This is not true”. That’s the falsification part! Definitely by falsifying something else.
But, What constitutes a falsifying evidence? What constitutes a revolutionary scientific evidence? Let us try to understand it with an example.
So there are three personalities. First one is Lokmanya Tilak, the second one is Swatantraveer Savarkar and the last one is Mahatma Gandhi. Let us see a True or false question.
The question is if someone tells you Lokmanya Tilak, Swatantraveer Savarkar, and Mahatma Gandhi met at Pune in 1923 to discuss the state of British rule in India. Is it true or false?
Let me now add, Lokmanya Tilak passed away in 1920.
Now that I have provided you the evidence, what do you think? True or False? “FALSE”. So why is that? It doesn’t matter whether it’s 1923, 1924, 25, 26, 35, 36. Doesn’t matter. The answer is” false”. That’s the kind of decisive evidence we are going to talk about.
Nilesh discusses in his talk and article such primary evidence in the case of Mahabharat and the Ramayana.
It will not tell you exactly when the two epics might have come together. Well, they might not have. But it will tell us and convince us based on those two pieces of evidence that Mahabharata war didn’t happen in anytime, even a day late than 4500 B.C., or in the last 6500 years ago.
Nilesh using the same evidence also tries to convince that when it comes to the Ramayana, it didn’t happen even a day late than 10,000 B.C. essentially it didn’t happen in the last 12000 years.
This is the logic of scientific discovery.
So just an example as we went through Lokmanya Tilak, Swatantraveer Savarkar, and Mahatma Gandhi prediction. So there was a statement or there was a claim. The three met in 1923, that was the prediction. True or false? And the explanation. Of course, we know true or false. But how did we get to it?
It’s through testing and we use the single directional arrow of time. We said 1923 came after 1920.
This is the logic of scientific discoveries.
That is the logic we are going to use when we get to Mahabharata and Ramayana evidence.
Professor C.K Raju has written a book which says scientific knowledge or basis of science is that western in origin.
All the great people are talking about the same thing. Bhagwan Patanjali, Yogasutra; first chapter “Samadhipad” and verse 7. Pratyaksha Anumana Aagma Pramaanadi. Pratyaksha i.e. Empirical proof, testing; ’Anumana ‘i.e. prediction or inference and ‘Aagma’ is the background knowledge and ‘Pramaanadi’ is the explanation or description. We just went through the triangle and if you thought I just took the example and somehow made it up.
Let’s go through with Sir Karl Popper who is very famous for the philosophy of Science and everyone is encouraged to read the book, ‘The logic of scientific discovery, conjectures and repetitions’ and so on.
Let us discuss this with a couple of examples. How many of you have this experience that you lifted a bucket of water and when you lifted you are surprised because you thought it was filled with water but it wasn’t. How many of you have this experience?
Those of you who don’t have this experience, I will give you a second example. Let’s say, you are walking down the stairs and suddenly you stumble and may be sprain your leg. You are surprised and you look back. What happened here? You were expecting a step there and it wasn’t there.
In both cases what I am saying is consciously or not we always have these theories or expectations in the back of our mind and when those expectations are startled, we get the problem. What happened here? Who removed the step? Or, Oh! I thought the bucket was heavy.
So, we start with the problem that’s what Karl popper says and then we propose the theory i.e. An explanation to solve that problem and then you work at error elimination. How do we do that? We look at the competition of the theory and then we look at the evidence and see if it matches. Okay? And then we end up with bigger problems.
When one hears a reasoning, one would wonder that okay, this is right but what about this? It leads to the bigger problem of higher complexity and in fact a test of a revolutionary theory is that it doesn’t solve the problem. It creates more of it, a higher complexity. That’s what happens in science, everywhere. Richard Feynman says all science problems just start with a guess, you have a problem you try to come out with an explanation. You compute the consequences, the predictions and you compare the consequences, with the actual observations, experiments, nature, simulations and you reach the conclusion.