The Science of Perceptions

Hasan Jawaid Khan


Wrong notions can mislead, wrong perceptions can cloud your judgement, and a wrong train of thoughts can lead you on to a disastrous track. We saw all this and much more during the past more than eight months that the novel coronavirus pandemic has been ravaging the world. Misinformation with no scientific basis has been circulated with impunity, sometimes with tacit support from senior functionaries. Myths around the nature of the virus and precautionary measures have been floating around. Mental health has become a raging issue propelled by the long-drawn lockdowns.

In the midst of all this, the world scientific community has quietly been putting its head together to unravel the secrets of the new and deadly virus. Its findings have been guiding policymakers in measures to combat COVID-19. Research in laboratories around the world has led to the repurposing of drugs to alleviate the suffering caused by the disease. Scientists are also hot on the trail of an effective vaccine that could blunt the onslaught of the virus. Technologists and innovators have also come up with innumerable innovations to create a safe environment.

How have the developments in recent months impacted the perception of the publics around the world about scientists, the research and development process, and other significant scientific issues? It is too early to find out. However, the findings of surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center across 20 publics in Europe, the Asia-Pacific, Russia, the U.S., Canada and Brazil from October 2019 to March 2020, just before the novel coronavirus assumed pandemic proportions, show that scientists and their research are widely viewed in a positive light. The findings in respect of India are particularly eye-opening...Read more