Crucifixion of Prof. Nalin De Silva
Posted on July 15th, 2011

Janaka Wansapura, PhD

As a physicist and a student of Prof. Nalin De Silva I strongly condemn the action taken against him by a group of science faculty academics at the University of Kelaniya and the Sri Lankan Association for the Advancement of Science (SLAAS).

According to the media reports, SLAAS had virtually threatened the members of his research group to dissociate themselves from Prof. Nalin De Silva, while the Science faculty academics has sought intervention from the vice chancellor to put an end to his work on the Rajarata Kidney Disease. What these two groups have done is both unprofessional and unethical.

While trying to discredit Prof. Nalin De Silva and his groups’ recent work on the issue of Rajarata Kidney Disease they themselves have abandoned ethical conduct in science. Scientists should rightly demand that inferences made through scientific research are logical and are consistent with the experimental data and facts.

 If these academics had any issues with Prof. De Silva’s work, as scientists they should have made their arguments solely on the inaccuracies and inconsistencies, if any, of Prof. De Silva’s results and conclusions setting aside all egos, hatreds etc.

This is what Scientists are trained to do and is expected of them by the general public who pay their salaries. SLAAS and the science faculty academics have failed to live up to it.  Further, Prof. De Silva had publicly invited all who had concerns about his group’s work to visit their laboratory to see how they carried out specific experiments.

 If they were genuinely interested, being from the same institute, the Science faculty academics should have taken this opportunity to investigate for themselves if they had any doubts about Prof. De Silva’s group’s results.  This would have been the most socially responsible thing to do. They did not do this either.

  Instead of being objective, SLAAS and the science faculty academics have resorted to a child like smearing campaign against Prof. Nalin De Silva, which appear to be based on sentimentalities rather than science. Indeed a very sad state of affairs.

 Then there is a more important question of accountability. The greater issue at stake here is not Prof. Nalin De Silva’s reputation or any other person’s or institution’s reputation for that matter, but the health and well being of thousands of paddy farmers in Rajarata.

Those who conduct smear campaigns against him essentially threaten to shut down his group’s future works which according to Prof. De Silva include finding a cure for the disease and promoting wholesome methods of paddy cultivation.

The people of Rajarata cannot afford an ego battle at their expense. If the SLAAS or the Science faculty academics think that this work should be stopped because of its poor science then they may do so with plausible arguments while holding themselves accountable to the general public, especially to those Rajarata families who are undergoing immense suffering because of the disease.

Will they stand up to that responsibility? If so, can the SLAAS or the science faculty academics produce an alternative solution to the Rajarata kidney disease? If not why should the public take them seriously?

Janaka Wansapura, PhD

51 Responses to “Crucifixion of Prof. Nalin De Silva”

  1. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    I totally agree with your point of view. I am from England (67 year old engineer) and I was really surprised see how, these so called, academics in Sri Lanka react to this well documented problem, Problem of presence of Arsenic salts in drinking water. Here we have a bunch of self claimed academics at Kelaniya university trying to save their reputation ( if any) by arguing against valid information gathered by Prof.Nalin de Silva, just because, the way Prof. Silva presented the case considered by them as unethical. I should point out to these half baked academics that in the history of scientific discoveries, some of the well known scientific concepts were really discovered through very unorthodox ways. Take for example , Sir Isaac Newton 1643-1727 discovered the law of gravity when an apple from a tree hit him on the head while he was sitting under it, then, law of buoyancy was discovered by Archimedes while at a public bath. Not only that, with this discovery, Archimedes leaped from his bath and in his excitement raced naked down the street toward his home, shouting “EUREKA! I have found it!” So, I strongly recommend these academics to Google it and first understand the gravity of the problem. In most of the developed world, the authorities have made available all necessary information to the general public, through Internet sites, to warn them of impending danger related to presence of arsenics in ground water. Not only that, they have even introduced low cost testing packages to verify the content of their ground water. Now in Sri Lanka the academics are trying to hush it up. Very Sad indeed!!!

  2. AnuD Says:

    Instead of Bashing him, these academics should have proven with data that what Prof Nalin De silva said was wrong. They did not do that. Instead they brought Some fo those so-called scientific jargon here to bash him.

    Pesticides are not used, at the rates that manufacturers recommend, even in the countries where those chemicals are being manufactered. that is why manufacturers had moved to Bopal, india like pklaces. Here, they use integrated pest management and use chemicals only aqs the last resort.

    But, in Sri Lanka, businesses destroy the country, these so-called academics support that.

  3. Sirih Says:

    I have been following this issue and disturbed by the vilification of Prof. Silva in the media by 3rd parties supposed to be science professionals..

    It is a time to take this with higher authorities and pass this issue to the President since distractors are nothing but unprofessional bunch that is not using proper arguments to support their case..

    Country need people like Prof. Silva who is thinking out side the norm which define him as a true scientist instead of half baked paper tiger who nothing but a selfish bunch.

  4. Dissanayake Says:

    I agree with NeelaNahayoda. I want to point out where these so called scientists from the University of Kelaniya who wrote to vice Chancellor against Prof. Nalin de Silva went wrong in this regard. These scientists try to mislead the general public saying that Prof. Silva’s findings are based on suggestions of Natha Deviyo.

    These scientists try to mislead the public or cannot understand what a hypothesis is. Hypothesis is just a story that can be used to explain some phenomenon. You can create hypothesis form your wild imagination or with the help of any God as in this issue. But what is more important is to prove these hypotheses based on data obtained from appropriate approach. Results should be able to reproduce using the same method by other people. If these conditions do not satisfy, the hypothesis will remain as a story for ever but not as a scientific finding.

    If you find the parallel with what Prof. Nalin de Silva has said about the relationship between Arsenic and Kidney issue, people should understand following:

    The research team has created a hypothesis and in this process they have received help from Natha Deviyo. As explained above, how this hypothesis is created or whether you believe Natha Deviyo or not do not matter here. What is important is proof of the hypothesis.

    So, they have found the presence of Arsenic and other heavy metals in different forms in pesticides, soil, plants, (hard) water and parts of dead bodies of kidney patients. According to preliminary findings of the World Health Organization, high concentration of Arsenic compounds have found in urine samples of Kidney patients.
    So, it is very clear, that the hypothesis is proved very much with scientific data. The research team in the Kelaniya University is engaged with further research. The government and WHO should support this study without any prejudice based on who helped to create the initial hypothesis.

    So called scientists in the Kelaniya University who wrote to vice Chancellor against Prof. Nalin de Silva and scientists from SLAAS try to mislead people. It seems they directly or indirectly speak and work on behalf of agro chemical companies. They should have some relationship and benifits to do so. Therefore, if further research of Kelaniya team and independent works of the WHO lead to conclusive finding to prove the relationship between Arsenic and Rajarata Kidney disease, so called scientists and agro chemical companies have criminal liability.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    For some people, like those who are critical of Prof. Nalin de Silva’s WONDERFUL work with the Rajarata Kidney Disease, revealing the source of the Disease as well as producing a low cost kit to determine the poisons in the water, MONEY is more important with the Insecticide Lobby than the work of the good Professor. How sad that the health of this Nation is compromised for the Greedy. I might point out that the GREEDY can make money by sale of material that create GOOD HEALTH, rather than maim our people with diseases by sale of bad products.

    The whole right thinking people of this country should support Prof de Silva’s great work in the field of Science. So few do proper research in this country. May he continue to serve this Nation for many years. We are with you, Prof. Nalin de Silva.

    Something is very wrong with the fiscal system in the whole world that MONEY comes before LIFE ITSELF. This must be Kali Yuga at its worst.

    Don’t wait for the President to do everything. We citizens of Lanka know right from wrong. However, the President can give a special award for Scientific Achievement to Dr Nalin de Silva. He fully deserves it.

  6. . Says:

    Geeth Says: July 15th, 2011 at 2:36 pm
    As observers, what we can see in this whole scenario of arsenic issue is that many parties have demonstrated so much of their concern of so many irrelevant things but have never been concerned about the burning issue of chronic renal disease in Rajarata (North central province). We can’t help saying that the way some politicians and scientists have handled the issue was most deplorable. None was ready to talk about the real issue, instead they either declare that this controversy will bring adverse effect on rice production and market, or now they have brought an issue of reputation. The grave issue that truly concerns the whole nation is not your reputation dear faculty, but to find answers for…
    1. Whether or not this disease cause by arsenic.
    2. Whether or not ground water and perennial water sources of the region contaminated by arsenic.
    3. Whether or not widely imported and used fertilizer varieties contain arsenic.
    4. Whether or not these fertilizers used in the region has been the primary source of arsenic that contaminates water causing renal failure.

    Have you done anything to answer these questions dear faculty? The nation turned toward you to find answers but you have neglected their call. Besides, people have moral right to demand answers from you since they have spent their good tax money to provide you with world class education free of charge to reach the heights you have reached today. If they have never protected our right to free education religiously for last few decades when it was severely threatened, you wouldn’t be able to talk about what you have mentioned… “to publish your findings at academic conferences, seminars and in internationally accepted peer reviewing journals.”

    What we witness today is not only you are confused of the situation dear faculty, but also it seems you are trying to confuse the entire nation as well. By failing to mention the real case, this letter has become a clear indication of your ungratefulness toward a helpless nation that helped you by providing all free facilities to educate you. It is sad to see that you were unable to see their real problem. The issue that demands first priority at the moment is definitely not your reputation dear faculty, but the rapid growth of death rate in the region. If you have forgotten, let me remind you of the problem again.

    At present, 65 billion rupees of public money have been spent for the fertilizer subsidy of paddy farmers amounting Rs. 50,000 a year per farmer. Rightly or wrongly people believe that most pesticides and fertilizers including paddy fertilizer contain arsenic. However, importing polluted fertilizer that contain Cadmium salt as a major pollutant and two other agrochemicals have been identified not only the agent that harms our agriculture, but also as the root cause of myriad of health problems, like the chronic renal failure of the peoples in North Central Province. One person dies per day from this man-made incurable disease. Current casualty rate of this disease is greater than the casualty rate of our erstwhile war. (Refer Prof. Bandara’s research paper on the internet to find more information: “Chronic Renal Failure of Sri Lanka”) Do you have any concern about this situation dear faculty, or you concerned only about your reputation and academic future dependent on western funds?

    At the height of this ‘controversy’ we expected all scientists to rally around and form a “Research Task Force” to arrest the condition and get into resolving this so-called ‘controversy.’ But alas, what we saw is a bunch of cowards concerned about their academic future. Your words tell it all about your thinking dear faculty.
    (beginning quote) “It has been accepted practice of the researchers of the faculty to publish their findings at academic conferences, seminars and in internationally accepted peer reviewing journals.” (Kelaniya science faculty) now you are only feared of losing those opportunities due to unscientific practices of some members of your department right? If you do not accept the results of arsenic issue, why don’t you conduct a parallel research adhering true scientific methodologies to uncover the real cause of farmers’ deaths in Rajarata?

    For us we always had ‘Deviwarus’ such as, natural instincts and astuteness governed by the principles of academic/intellectual honesty to do the right thing. But most of our professionals’ and intellectuals’ have killed their ‘Deviwarus.’ Now they have exchanged the places of their Deviwaru with blood money earned at the cost of innocent lives of Sri Lanka. Consider dying farmers as your ‘deviwarus’ dear faculty, and use your all scientific creativeness to save their lives. Then you can reclaim your lost credibility much easier than the way you have tried now.

  7. Lorenzo Says:

    So called “academics” (they may be true academics) of the Kelaniya University did absolutely nothing until now on the matter. They have the audacity to criticise the only group that did some research. These shameless creatures strike work for any of their selfish demands. I won’t be surprised if they are financed by Agro companies to bark.

    The fact that this research is not published in any “journal” does not matter to Sri Lanka. What matters is finding answers that can save people’s health. Do something about it before barking at those who did some work.

    Arsenic content in pesticides has been found elsewhere in the world. So this scientific study is well corroborated by other studies!

    The mentioning of divine forces does not by itself annul the scientific findings. It only proves that the team had mingled sufficiently with the farming community in the North Central Province instead of wasting time and money in air conditioned rooms at the university waiting for a foreign scholarship to come in their way.

  8. Geeth Says:

    Dear readers,
    Please be advised that the above comment under my name was meant to be the response to a letter published by Academics of the Faculty of Science, University of Kelaniya addressed to the vice chancellor of the same university. It was published under the caption of “A threat to the credibility of the University of Kelaniya” on July 14th, 2011
    on Lanka Web.
    For that reason this comment may look slightly out of the context of this article.
    Thanks

  9. Fran Diaz Says:

    Some questions to ask :

    As the people of Rajarata did not suffer from the effects of Arsenic (or any other) type of poisoning till the recent times, we have to assume that it is due to a poison introduced into the drinking water supply fairly recently, during the last 5-8 yrs.

    * How is it that the pesticides used by the Rajarata farmers took such a heavy tole on the health of the population there when pesticides are used by farmers in other parts of the country without such ill effects ?
    * How do we find the SOURCE at which the pesticides were introduced into the drinking water supply i.e. was it done at one spot and carried by rains, or through springs, or introduced into many areas by many farmers using the same brand ?
    * What brand of pesticide is popular among the Rajarata farmers, and does it differ from brands used by farmers in the rest of the country ? How are pesticides used in the rest of the country as opposed to use in Rajarata ?
    * Was this an act of terrorism ?

  10. Fran Diaz Says:

    I would like to add the words “and fertilizer” wherever I have used the word “pesticide” as both items contain Arsenic.

    By the way, there are Homeopathy remedies that at least mitigate (in early cases cure) Arsenic poisoning.

  11. RanjithD Says:

    Dear all,

    While the main arguements here on crucification of Prof. Nalin Silva is rightly asking us to focus on the real issue of arsenic, fertilizer and kidney desease, there is another issue that has arisen because of the way in which this sceintific reserach has been presented. It is agreeable that the hypothesis can come from hunches, heresay or halucinations and for that matter from soothsayers or gods and that the test is the most important aspect. However, when Prof. Nalin Silva claimed that he received the advise from the deities, this seems to validate a common hypothesis that is rooted in Sri Lanka. That is the hypothesis that ‘there are Gods from whom the human beings can solicit favours, wisdom, solace etc’.

    This ‘hypothesis’ is not even a hypothesis for many Sri Lankans but a ‘universal theory’. While no one really knows the validity of this theory, millions of Sri Lankans depend on these divine interventions and many others make a fat living of it too. Neither western science nor eastern ‘science’ has proven this beyond doubt.

    As to be expected, ordinary people would want to look up to the learned society to offer them clearer ideas of such theories. I for one do not belive that there is any truth in it and I recently read that erudite scholars such as Prof. Carlo Fonseka refudiate such arguements too. Of course any one has aright to belive it too. The problem that has arisen on the side of this arsenic experiment is that by saying that Prof Nalin Silva received this insight from divine powers, he has to some extent validated this hypotheis; that ‘ the society can seek wisdom from the gods, whose services are supposed to be abundantly available at the devales’.

    This is a huge issue, because apart from the arsenic issue to which the skilled professor has found some solutions, he has also blinded the people by reinforcing the ALREADY EXISTING MYTH (in my openion). while everyone has a right to express one’s openion, when the university academics pronounce such statements, they have major repercussions in the society.

    I think while we discuss the arsenic issue and give credit to Professor Nalin Silva if he has solved the puzzle, we should also take up the other issue for a debate, which it seems to me that the other scientists and the SLAAS seem to think has obfuscated man’s search for truth. If as Prof. Nalin Slva says that a hypothesis can be generated by divine inspiration, can this now be accepted as a scientific methodology of generating hypothesis/ theory etc. The issue is not small, and now attacking the others who have raised this issue is not certainly the way to go forward.

    Can we have a debate on ‘whether people should be encouraged to seek divine help’ to solve their problems’. As we know people used to do it for almost any problem, but the yonger people seem to be moving away from such beliefs. This statement will now encourage the Sri Lankan society to seek more and more help from the numerous Devales and is likely to cause much greater harm in the long run than what arsenic and fertilizers have done. I can almost hear what people say at the Kadamandiya, If Prof. Nalin Silva is going to the Devales to get advice on Scientific experiments, why should not we, for our everyday problems?

  12. DrPadmaWijesekara Says:

    Dear Ranjith
    In order to understand this you should at least, read Stephen Hawking’s The Grand Design and have some understanding on multiple universe and 11 dimension concepts. Even though we can see only four dimensions, i.e space and Time, god may be residing in one of the 7 dimensions that we can not visualise with our present day knowledge..

  13. Chintha Says:

    I think Nalin desilva has some sisth or seventh sense. He predicted everything happenned in the last tstage of Ealam war long time ago, when every one thought he was crazy and talking nonsense. When verything happenned exactly as he predicted who are the fools now, who could not think even close to that. At least pay some attention to him.

  14. Lorenzo Says:

    RanjithD,

    The report does not dwell solely on divinity for proof. It contains scientific experiments too. He may have got the “hunch” from divine forces but there are scientific contents in his report. It contains arsenic contents of various foods sourced from various areas. That is scientific. Then there is ample evidence of the link between arsenic and kidney failure both in NDS’s report and in many other reports all over the world.

    So the hunch from gods doesn’t invalidate his findings.

    I would have preferred NDS not to include his beliefs in the report. But their inclusion does not invalidate the report.

    Kelaniya University academics who criticise it must prove their case by analysing similar food items from these areas for arsenic, etc. Otherwise they are hilariously unscientific in their allegations!

  15. RanjithD Says:

    Dear Dr. Padma Wijesekara,

    Thank you so much for responding and recommending the book. I will read it. However, you said that ‘God may be residing’ somewhere in the 7th Dimension. Is it God or many Gods. Christinaity and Islam advocate one God and Sri Lankans and Asians of other religions believe in many gods. NDS has referred to ‘devivaru’ in plural. We know that beliefs are not necessarily truths. As you said they ‘may be’. Obviously we do not know for sure and our knowledge of Gods is inadequate. some of us are only been skeptical and open to be pursuaded to accept their presence and the benefits we can get for reserach if there is acceptable proof. This is precisely my point. A great scholar like Prof. Nalin Silva is offering ‘proof’, and I am only saying as same as we are debating the arsenic issue, we must as a society also debate the gods issue. What is your arguement. It is not just enough I am afraid to quote Stephen Hawkings and suggest his book. That is not conclusive either.

    Dear Lorenzo,

    I am not contesting NDS’s experiment at all. This is up to chemists and other scientists.I am also not saying ‘hunch from gods’ invalidate the experiment. You are right in asking Kelaniya dons to prove their case as far as Arsenic goes.

    But my point is that the other issue (could we separate the two) that has cropped up in NDS’s deliberate reference to Gods also needs to be taken up for discussion. As you rightly said, we wish NDS did not include his beliefs in the report. I think the Sri Lankan society would have wished it too. But NDS is not ignorantly making this statement in his report. He is claiming this deliberately (this is why it matters) and is challenging the Sri Lankan society to begin with and the Modern science in turn to accept this position. Wishing that he did not say it, is a gross injustice to his intellect. He did say it and said it deliberately. It is up to us to take the next step. Like I said before, this is no small issue. This is bound to have greater repercussions in our society where the acdemics have given the people the clues to follow in their daily life.

    Please, I am suggesting the arsenic / food issue and the gods issue to be taken separately. By pointing the finger at the experiment to validate Gods revealations I am afraid is unscientific. You have said the other scientists are hilariously unscientific. I am not sure if this can be substantiated. If we cannot treat these two issues seperately, well then there is no scientific thinking at all.

  16. Geeth Says:

    Dear all,
    I am not a scientist, but I am writing this comment as a member of a party affected by political hegemony of science, its ruthless exclusion, marginality in the entire scope of development. Because we believe development means not only construction of roads and highways, but essentially a part of human progress and its ideology.

    First and foremost, I would like to say that the idea that science possesses absolute truth is an old axiom that has been challenged by many quarters. If we to view Prof. Silva’s concept of ‘devivaru,’ objectively, we must position all his concepts within the entire universe of his critique of modernity. And must consider that modern science is a major hegemonic tool of modernism.

    However to be scientific means not only firmly and steadfastly sticking into accepted norms and methodologies of western science along, but also going against them is also scientific. If we don’t, our idea of science will become a mere dogmatic religion. On the other hand, to be objective on Prof. De Silva, we must get out of white science, or western science which is overly loaded with white mythology that desired global hegemony in knowledge sector.

    The reason why I had to use the adjective of ‘western’ in regard to science is because the case in point is that PNDS’s explanation does not go along with western science. But it may go along with other sciences. So our Kelaniya science faculty has taken up arms to safeguard the purity of western science. They have become guardian knights of it. I do not believe that science as an exclusively western thing. The other reason for me to use that adjective is that I believe natives of Sri Lanka also had their own sciences. Our written and unwritten history is full of such scientific marvels.

    I also prefer if Prof. Silva had avoided this devivaru thing from his report. However I am pretty sure the term ‘devivaru’ in Prof. Silva’s explanation does not have anything to do with Judeo-Christian or Islamic concept of God or divine powers. Instead it may be rooted in the indigenous (native) idea of ‘devivaru,’ which is believed in spirits of those who physically lived in the past but still remain among us as spirits although their physical bodies has being perished ages ago. (I may sound signaling some mysticism)

    At this point one can challenge this belief based on the western scientific idea of empirical ‘truth.’ Do we believe in spirits? Western science would not accept the concept of spirits no doubt. However there are many phenomena that western science does not have proper explanations. The problem of western modernity including its science is that it never accepts its ignorance of many things as inherent limitations of it; instead it brands anything it doesn’t understand as strange, weird, creepy, ancient and entirely ridiculous. Western knowledge is open only to the west and closed to the rest in terms of critiquing of it.

    Although it may sound little nasty to recommend books into this forum, given consideration to the value of sharing information, I would like to mention about two books which has been considered as paradigm shift in the idea of science and has posed serious challenge to our perception of science; which is Paul Feyerabend’s “Against Method,” and “Firewall to Reason,” two classics that criticizes the way we perceive science and the myth in western scientific method.

    Paul Feyerabend (a scientist by discipline) says that, ancient doctrines and so-called ‘primitive’ myths appear strange and nonsensical only because the information is either not known, or is distorted by philologists or anthropologists unfamiliar with the simplest physical, medical or astronomical knowledge. And he also says although many consider Voodoo as a practice of backwardness as confusion, it has a firm though not sufficiently understood material basis.

    In regard to China and its traditional medicine he says… science is imported to China from the west, taught and pushed aside all traditional elements. Scientific chauvinism triumphs; what is compatible with science should live, what is not compatible with science must die. Science in this context means not just a specific method, but all the results the method has so far produced. Things incompatible with the results must be eliminated. Old style doctors, for example, must either be removed from medical practice, or they must be re-educated. Sounds familiar ha?

    The entire episode of crucifixion of Prof. Silva originates from this above mentioned hegemony of western science. We can imagine the praxis of this hegemony during colonial time comparing to the extent it has been practiced even in this age of so-called independent era.

    However before we jump our guns into argument, I think we must wait until Prof. NS explains this concept of Devivaru in detail.

  17. Geeth Says:

    Sorry, the book name should be “Firewell to Reason.”

  18. Lorenzo Says:

    Dear Ranjith,

    There are 2 issues, agree.

    1. The issue of arsenic in food items produced in NCP (that’s where the focus was) and it causing kidney disease.
    2. The issue of divinity

    I’m NOT contesting issue #2. It is irrelevant to issue #1.

    Based on scientific analysis contained in the report ALONE, issue #1 stands. It is further corroborated by similar scientific experiment into arsenic elsewhere.

    In other words, if we get a copy of NDS’s report and delete all references to divinity, it still has substance. Scientific substance. That alone is sufficient to make a case to save people’s lives and health.

    As to other academics dismissing the whole report, it is not scientific at all. They dwell on the divinity matter alone deliberately ignoring to admit the scientific content! Their content is neither scientific nor academic but political. Like Tamil grievances jokers who deliberately avoid admitting the good of SL because it does not help their cause.

    My point is, make use of the scientific content in NDS’s report and TAKE ACTION to prevent further suffering of the people.

  19. DrPadmaWijesekara Says:

    Dear RanjithD
    Science is progressing very rapidly in the last 50 years, It was Plato who initiated it first and then classical theory of Newtonian physics took the centre stage in the last 50 years. In the modern time, we are moving into the quantum physics and quantum theories based on probabilistic models. So physical models that may explain the existence of ultra superior life forms or existence of community of gods may classified under the same probability model. If that particular life form can survive without a body, it will be totally in agreement with Buddhist philosophy.

    As Professor Hawking says the physicist’s traditional expectation of a single theory of nature is untenable, and there exists no single formulation. Each theory may have its own version of reality, but according to model-dependent realism, that is acceptable so long as the theories agree in their predictions whenever they overlap, that is, whenever both can be applied. but we now have a candidate for the ultimate theory of everything, if indeed one exists, called M-theory. This reminds me of the popular Sri Lankan parable ‘Six blind men and the elephant’. When everyone touched the elephant one said Hey, the elephant is a pillar,” “Oh, no! It is like a rope,” said the second man who touched the tail. “Oh, no! It is like a thick branch of a tree,” said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant. “It is like a big hand fan” said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant. “It is like a huge wall,” said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant. “It is like a solid pipe,” Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant. They were all correct. So the famous M- theory was first formulated by this Sri Lankan parable. Definitely, there may be many gods if they ever exist.

  20. Dissanayake Says:

    @Geeth
    The book name is Farewell to Reason (1987).

  21. Fran Diaz Says:

    The trouble with the many gods theory is that, even though there may be life forms invisible to our naked eyes, some of the artists’ concepts of such gods defy the imagination, and may lead the worshipper to accept the most dangerous and unreal of ideas, particularly when such ideas are put into the heads of the very young. Therein lies the danger ….

    The Buddha is supposed to have said that there are many deities, but not many ‘gods’. These deities too seek salvation, according to Buddhism.

  22. Geeth Says:

    Dissanayake,
    Yes you right, sorry for the spelling mistake.

  23. Anura Says:

    Anyone in Sri Lanka is yet to see the proof of Arsenic causing CKDU in Sri Lanka. If you guys have a scientific report on this by any one from the Nalin Silvas group please publish it for our information. That will bring lot of respect to Prof. Silva.

  24. Prof. Ruwan Ferdinandez Says:

    Janaka, I agree with you in general with regard to the attempted coup against Nalin at Kelaniya. The lazy lot whose scientific contribution to the country or the world is abysmal have always condemned anybody who made an attempt to do anything useful. If the work is credible enough, Prof. Nalin has to ignore them and carry on with his work. However,there are issues to be sorted out, regardless of any external intervention.

    One is, Arsenic issue is not conclusive in this saga. Prof.Nalin should speak out only if he has any credible evidence to this effect to prove his point. His colleagues and SLAAS should not interfere and will not do so, if the evidence is credible enough. If Prof.Nalin has no scientiofic proof, he should keep tight lipped. These medical matters need due deligence not ad hoc analysis.
    Secondly, I seemed to have missed the main part of the topic. I do not know how the unseen divine intervention came into the scene. If Prof.Nalin said anything like that, he should not just ignore the ‘lazy lot’s’ interference,or should not wait for the VC’s response. He honourably should resign and drown himself in the Beira lake. The concept of God has to be left for religious folk to dabble with, bringing such diabolical garbage into a scientific discussion, not only degrades the scientific quality of the university (which is not very high to start with in the world stage) but makes the Sri Lankan scientist a laughing stock among the other scientists.

  25. Leela Says:

    RanjithD: Instead of my writing a detailed retort to you your comment, I’d rather invite you to read ‘සිංහල බෞද්ධ විද්‍යාවකට විරුද්ධ කැලණි මහැදුරෝ’ by Porf Nalin de Silva in http://www.vidusara.com/ as a response. Thank you. Leela

  26. Leela Says:

    Dr Padma Wijesekara,
    Contrary to what you say about Professor Stephen Hawking, truth is, he is not at all shy about drawing a theological (One God) conclusion from his cosmological speculations.

    “If the universe had no beginning, there isn’t whatsoever for God to do – except to choose the laws of physics. Physics, were it to discover a unified theory, will allow us to know the mind of God.” Those are Hawkin’s words.

    Going further, Professor Carl Sagan, in his introduction to that most famous book of all, Hawkin’s, ‘A Brief History of Time’, Sagan has not been afraid to draw theological conclusions. “This is also a book about God … or perhaps about the absence of God.” Likewise, those pages are filled with the word ‘God’. Indirectly it says the god had done something.

    In page 173 of that book, Hawkin says; “so long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. However, if the universe were really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end; it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?” Any impartial person could understand the purpose for his resolute to prove that there was a beginning to the universe.

    In fact, Hawking embarks on a quest to answer Einstein’s famous question about whether the God had any choice in creating the universe. For the last thirty or so years, Hawking is attempting as he explicitly states to understand the mind of God. His concern has been the point where all matter was as he says; at a ‘singularity’ when that Big Bang explosion occurred some 10 -15 billion years ago.

    In his wheelchair, Hawking keeps visualizing at and the aftermath of Big bang, but not prior to it. In that book Hawking says; Pope John Paul asked him not to envision beyond the Big Bang. Apparently Pope wants to make it the point of God’s creation. No doubt, church wants everything to cease beyond that point, because, there should have been only the God then.
    Leela

  27. Geeth Says:

    Dear Anura,
    Shall we pose that question to GOSL authorities?
    What you are asking is a question among many questions that whole nation is asking from authorities. I have lined them up in a previous comment as to…

    1. Whether or not this disease caused by arsenic.
    2. Whether or not ground water and perennial water sources of the region contaminated by arsenic.
    3. Whether or not widely imported and used fertilizer varieties and pesticides contain arsenic.
    4. Whether or not these fertilizers and pesticides used in the region has been the primary source of arsenic that contaminates water causing renal failure.

    So the mystery that nation desperately desired to penetrate is to find actual cause for this CKDU. It is undeniable responsibility of the entire government, because this is an emergency situation.

    Since Prof. Ruwan Ferdinandez says he missed some points of this entire debate, it seemed essential to line up the events sequentially to understand the callous and scandalous nature of some involved in this issue.

    We had this CKDU problem for last decade or so. Under prevailing circumstance, science faculty of Kelaniya employed a team to research and then revealed the presence of arsenic in drinking water, soil and in plant life in the Rajarata area due to the use of pesticides and fertilizer. Furthermore, they related this finding with Rajarata’s chronic kidney disease or as you have referred it, to the CKDU. But the team hasn’t published their report in any public domain instead has invited all interested parties to come and seek information about their research and the methods they have employed. Therefore, even you can get it from them. Then later, another investigation carried out by Industrial Technology Institute (ITI) declared that arsenic is present only in two brands of pesticides out of about twenty eight.

    Then Prof. Silva’s team said that the accepted methodology of western science was inapt and incompetent, therefore they had to use ‘other methods’ to uncover what they have found. These ‘other methods’ have been condemned by other scientists who have adhered to ‘accepted’ methodologies, accepted by the owners of western science. an In other words, if anyone says anything about the chemical form-up of any substance can be said only through western scientific method.

    Matters gotten worse at the same time when Prof Silva declared that he got guidance from ‘devivaru’ to penetrate this mystery. In a way this has undermined the credibility of his findings especially among whole lot of people who religiously believe only western science. By this single statement, the whole debate was derailed.

    This situation pushed the CKDU issue into back seat and all quarters began to argue on myriad of other things. The worst of all is this gave sufficient space and excuse to the scandalous professionals to manipulate the issue and misguide the gullible. Now it has reached to a debate to prove what is scientific and what is not. But the main problem is still remaining. Under this circumstance only I want to suggest diverting all question to real responsible parties. Anyway, to my mind, the party that is culpable for the question and answerable to the country is not Prof. Silva’s group. Therefore let us forget about what Prof. Silva has said. Let us ask above mentioned questions from the authorities culpable for this issue.

    Besides, why we must question prof. Silva when so many other parties are there blameworthy for this? Must he answer anyway? Ethically yes, but culpably ‘no! They must answer only since they have intervened into the issue; either Prof. Silva or Prof. Padmini Paranagama should publish their report in public domain, if they wish of course, since the matter has reached to that level. But they are not culpable to answer since the nation is spending millions for salaries for sections who are responsible for the subject. Besides, no matter either prof. Silva will answer or not, people will die. On the other hand, wouldn’t this questioning be amounting to transfer the responsibility to another and getting the true culprits off the hook?

    Now it is time for the authorities to either accept Prof. Silva’s findings and remedy it or refute it and declare the actual cause for the decease and take further measures to remedy it. But they cannot just refute the position of De Silva and wash their hands without revealing the actual cause for the decease. Right now that is what they are trying to do.

    The nation has no quarrel what so ever with prof. Silva and the team on this CKDU issue anyway.

    But we are concerned about the real guilty party who is hiding behind the silence. What is the position of ministers of agriculture (do we have one?) and health? Did they declare a national emergency situation to arrest the largest death raw in the world in non-combat, non-conflict situation? Did they debate on this in parliament? How many NGOs and INGOs have spent their billions of dollars in this? How many scientists working fulltime? Did they form a special taskforce to monitor the condition, research and remedy the situation? Did they study of the social repercussions of this decease? Are we at a brink of mass exodus like in the 12th century? Is that the hidden agenda of this silence? Don’t forget, most of the corrupt officials, including the top one who tried to destroy paddy cultivation in Sri Lanka through policy planning are still in the control of the government apparatus. This guy had said to one of my friends that paddy cultivation is a waste of resources and letting it to die is the then government’s (CBK) policy. And he was spearheading it. We are accustomed to blame only politicians for every reason. But we must learn that the culprit behind the scene is the official, the professional who handling policy planning.

    If we have responsible government, responsible of its citizenry, then they must answer your question Anura. If we have responsible intellectuals, professionals including scientists, then they must have answer for this question. At least it is time for them to get together and act together. The reason is clear; if we let the current conditions to prevail in Rajarata continuously, may I repeat it again, we can expect a mass exodus of the population of the region into other areas like what happened in the 12th century. If that outcome is intentional, then it is a different story.

  28. RanjithD Says:

    Dear Dr. Padma Wijesekara,

    Thanks for the clarifications and the parable. I do agree with you that we know little, and also know only partially as the parable points out. As you rightly put, there ‘may be many gods’ if they ever exist. Unrtil proven that they do not, “may be” must remain our focus. However, you also expressed your doubt when you say “if they ever exist”. I am with you.

    Frankly, I do not know and do not want to claim to know. But my point is that Prof. Nalin De Silva has confirmed that they do exist and that we can get their help for our academic activities too. I am really excited !!! This is why I am saying that we should delve into it further, not shelve it and say it does not matter if the hypothesis came from Gods or not as some argue. Now there is a real chance of finding out where the ‘Samyak Drushti Devivaru’ exist and get help for many of our problems.

    Dear Lorenzo,

    I told you, that when you said that ‘I wished that NDS did not include his beliefs’ in his report that it was a gross injustice to his intellect. I am most convinced of it after I read the Article Leela has recommended. Prof. NDS is not talking about ‘Samyak Drushtika Devivaru’ by some mistake. He is advancing a theory of gods, sciences and religions.

    Dear Leela,
    Many thanks for directing me to the article by Prof. NDS. I now understand that this debate has other connotations; that it is immersed in a deeply entrenched socio-political, religious base. As I see it, Prof. NDS’s article is more a political one rather than a scientific philosophical one. Scratching the raw nerves of people, he has skilfully divided science to a Judo- Christian one and a Sinhalese Buddhist one. I am now assuming that there may be other sciences too, such as Brahmin Hindu one or an Australian Aboroginal one and so on. In doing so however, he has whipped up Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism and Ani-westernism. It is now clear to me why some are so agitated. Naturally, Prof. NDS is appealing to and has harnessed his suport base who we are seeing things through coloured glasses. I have no grudge with that; every one has a choice and can wear them.

    However, I am wondering if those ‘samyak drushti devivaru’ are ‘Sinhalese Buddhist’ gods. While in the first place we do not know if gods exist or not’ and as Padma points out, ‘may be’ and as Fran Diaz says ‘there may be other life forms’ invisible to outr naked eye, which is probable, now we get into another issue of God’s ethnicities too. According to NDS, there is the Judo Christian God, The Islamic Allah, and then there are Sinhalese Buddhist gods. If we extend this further, then there should be other ethnic gods too.

    Prof. NDS’s article was interesting and certainly there is some truth in his assertion that the ‘Judo Christian God’ is not been questioned by scientists, but only other beliefs (such as the Sinhalese Buddhist gods). This is his arguement; He seems to be saying that ‘if they can have their Gods with western science’ which is being hegemonised, then we can have ours too. So he is proposing ‘Sinhalese Buddhist Science’ with the Sinhalese Buddhist Gods. Hm. the picture is clear; this debate is a maifestation of the Sinhalese Buddhist chintanaya and has an ultra nationalistic overtone too.

    Thank you for enlightening me and offering this insight, I did not know this till now. I am neither however trying to defend ‘western science’ nor trying to discredit ‘other sciences’. I am only being inquisitive. My perception is that science must be universal and should not have ethnic divisions. I am learning.

    Could you also offer this ‘detailed retort’ that you thought you could write. I would (I assume that other readers will also be) most grateful. I think it will illuminate this further.

    By the way, It wost most perplexing after reading that article, why Prof. NDS remains the Dean of a Faculty that is officially advocating ‘western science’ and allows his Staff and students to conduct ‘tests and experiments’ employing western scientific thoughts and models, while talking about ideas such as observations, hypothesis, testing, proof etc. in his arsenic case while rejecting the so-called Judo Christian Science. I am most baffled. Could you please illuminate.

    Sincerely,

    Ranjith

  29. Prof. Ruwan Ferdinandez Says:

    Just browsed the Vidusara article written by Nalin de Silva. I did have a great respect for him but he lost it with this article. He seems obscure but Vidusara had a reputation, the paper will lose that as well if they resort to such low ‘divine science’. No question Kelaniya science is not the best in the world, contrary to their claim, they developed no reputation in the past few decades. However Nalin does not do any favour to any reputation they may have or not by such silly work and talk. I also have the same question as Ranjith, I am seriously puzzled as to why he remains to be the Dean…??? The faculty of science essentially advocates the western science and there is no need to affiliate ‘divinity’ or ‘devils’ into serious science. They should leave such nonsence to those who either can’t or unable to come out of the dark.

  30. Lorenzo Says:

    Dear Ranjith,

    But that does not take away the scientific substance of the arsenic report!

    Don’t get distracted. NDS’s team’s report on arsenic has enough scientific substance.

  31. parinda81 Says:

    wow! lots of sarcasm. good!

  32. parinda81 Says:

    Dear RanjithD,

    Few decades ago, your argument would have been viewed as vivacious and futuristic, but today it may look “nuspook” and old−like the words of an old British colonial science teacher in the beginning of the 20th century. (Sorry for using this wonderful word ‘nuspook’) Please be cautious before becoming an arrogant defender of something like modern science that has a disgraceful history of ostracism of other knowledge systems, because (although you haven’t noticed it) the world is changing and eventually you may find yourself lying among the fossils of dinosaurs.

    In your comments, you are artfully denouncing something that you know little or nothing about. I am not talking about your critique of the beliefs in divine powers, but your denouncing of the critique of modern science is out of date Ranjith. Before being judgmental, please study about what has been said by critics of modern science. These critics are not ‘Kapuwas’ of ‘devalas’ but top level scientists of modern time, and some even recipients of Nobel prize, if you consider Nobel prize as an achievement to give them a hearing to their voices.

    As you correctly point out, yes science supposed to be universal, but modern western science perpetuates modern western science as the only science that has universal validity while marginalizing other models of knowledge. Dear Ranjth, what you are trying to safeguard fiercely (with a bit of mockery and flavor of satire) is gradually dying after its remarkable hegemony of about 300 years.
    The political hegemony of western science is crumbling and its days are numbered. The new era that will dawn won’t be another hegemonic world of Chinese, Buddhist or any other sciences, but instead, it will be a world with coexistence of multiple knowledge systems. As authors of “Order out of Chaos” says, “Our vision of nature is undergoing a radical change toward the multiple, the temporal, and the complex.” These scientists are also westerners, but they are against modern western science. But you are against them and hell-bent on catering old school of modern science. So who is wearing glasses?

    Science will be limited neither to chemistry nor to mathematics, but in broader sense it is the continual attempt of man’s unending quest to understand secrets of his existence, his surrounding and his relationship to nature and entire universe. That is the reason why science becomes a part of the lives of everyone and the reason why none can avoid or ignore it, because it has become the major influence of human ideology. If that so, history of science must be older than the history of modern western science. So then why do you think that our universities must remain within the limitation of modern western scientific jargon along? Only very recently that modern western science learned that world is spherical, but Asians knew it much earlier. Not only that, they knew the existence of other planets, their positions, movements and their relationship to the each other. Sinhalese celebrated a particular planetary movement as their new year before the western world came to know the simple fact that world is spherical.

    As I said, science meant for man’s unending search of his relationship to the nature and the universe. Under such progressive epistemological standpoint many scholars have realized that modern western science is limited and dogmatic. Epistemology of modern western science limits man’s creativity. It desires order; subordination and subservience to such order. Therefore, the critique of modern western science is not based on anything but on its limitation due to its impassable dogmatism that prevents humanity from transcendence into next level. Under such circumstance, critiquing of modern western science is not chauvinistic affair after all, but one of the most progressive humanistic affair Dear RanjithD

    You have said that “I am neither however trying to defend ‘western science’ nor trying to discredit ‘other sciences” but in the same breath you have said “why Prof. NDS remains the Dean of a Faculty that is officially advocating ‘western science.’ What are you suggesting by that? And I have never heard that Kelaniya science faculty officially advocating western science. May be that is a part of your obedient utopian dream. Or may be your god have said it to you.

    By the way, sarcasm and laughter is one of the most vicious hegemonic political tools of all times Ranjith. Good try, but wrong timing though, because you are in the wrong end. Unlike sixty years ago, when laughter was utilized by modernists as their primary weapon to denigrate traditional knowledge systems while forcing modern “universal truths” of “scientific reason” and its “materialism” upon masses vilifying traditional knowledge systems of old world of Asia, today the table is turned. Now you are among the laughingstock of old school of modernism Ranjith. The only difference is that you do not know about it. If you want to be scientific, open your mind instead of closing it, because western science can be full-face mettle helmet without openings if you put it on wrong. You are living in the old modern fantasy. For that reason, you have our permission to have a good laughter. But don’t forget to stand before your mirror when you doing it.

  33. RanjithD Says:

    Dear Parinda,

    I was hoping to hear from Padma, Lorenzo, and Leela. Instead you did. I am greatly indeabted to you , because I wanted to know and you took the touble to tell me.

    Thank you for letting me know where I am in so far as this issue is. I was not claiming to be futuristic, contemporary, up to date or anything else and that I was not trying to demonstrate as such. I was curious as any ordinary folk would be. You assumed so and I must say that this is not my intention.

    Frankly, I am here to learn. Not to defend any science nor discredit any other science. I must say that I am not trying to be satirical, or sarcastic. I was simply expressing my openions and that is the way I expressed it. Obviously, you were deconstructivist, may be. you read into the text. I think you decided that since I was not defending Prof. NDS vehemently and was questioning the idea of gods, I must be opposing it. So you placed me on the other side and concluded that I am defending science. From that point onwards you took all my writings to be sarcastic satirical etc. and also wanted to correct me.

    Let me declare myself and my position, to make things clear. I am not a scientist. Not an ardent defender of modern science as you concluded. In fact, I am in one of the most ‘unscientific’ disciplines in the world: Architecture. Any way, I am interested in this issue of gods which to my mind science had rejected. As you would have noticed, I was not interested in the Arsenic issue, which is about science. I left it to those interested squarely in science.

    In my writing, I meant every word of it, and did not intend to be sarcastic or satirical. I fully agree with you that I know little or nothing. I may also have outdated thoughts. But it is hard to be up to date all the time. Perhaps I have never been. But I am somewhat aware of the inadequacies of science, and a little bit more about hegemonic nature of history and few other things. For instance, history has been written by the westerners and dominated by the western interpretations subjugating all other versions of histories. I am aware (do not know fully well ) that knowledge has also been capitalised by the West, marginalising the other knowledge systems. So, I have no serious grudge, if other sciences are promoted, valued and celebrated. Indeed, I will welcome such developments.

    Frankly, I am not against western science nor any science; If they provide aceptable knowledge, I will be happy to accept them. When I wrote that there may be Australian Aboriginal Science, I was aware that they had specialised people in the tribes with specialised knowledge about how to keep the fires un-extinguished because, initiating fires was difficult. This knowledhe has now been lost. When I said that there may be other ethinc gods, I seriously thought, that it may be. Hindus have their Gods, and Chinese have their Gods etc. It seemed to me that the gods’ world quite well corresponds to the human world and are so ethnically divided. I t was a revelation to me ! and I was surprised why. I did not mean to be sarcastic. If you felt like that and I offended someone, I apologise. I am sorry, I did not mean to be. When I said now there is a real chance of knowing where ‘Samyak Drushtika Devivaru’ exist. I meant it. As padma said there may be. If there are and we know how to get knowledge from them, that will be splendid. In fact, someone later added, that there will be more revealations and that film directors, musicians etc. had done so and have kept them as a secret. I was looking forward to. If they all do, why not I benefit form them too. Rather selfish may be, but my mother and I have had differences of openions on this and so I was looking forward to. Please, I am not being sarcastic. I am honestly interested.

    Please Parinda, I am trying to understand. not defend any science. I am not being judgemental as you suggested. I am surprised that you have concluded ‘you are against them and ‘hell-bent’ on catering to old school modern science. Where did you get that idea from. I was hell bent? No, it was a small write up. the one and only I wrote.

    But something still perplexes me. You asked how I concluded that Kelaniya Science faculty officially advocates western Science. Since they have not said otherwise, and all science Faculties in universities do so, I assumed it. If it did, then it was puzzeling to me, why Prof NDS remained in that position. If I had his kind of thinking, it would be hard for me to remain there. So I assumed that, that is the way the world is. Now I amd beginning to realise that it is not so. Again, no pun intended. I honestly realise that Science faculties do not have to and may teach different different sciences.

    One last thing. I wish your write up were more about the ideas of devivaru in science rather than about me. Yes I agree that you said western scientists themselves have questioned western science. I am not surprised, it is the nature of science (any science) to question things. Instead, you were saying ‘you idiot, you have no knowledge. you know nothing, you have not read the books I have read, Go read the books and do not ask questions, if you do not know’. You were largely attacking me to point out, my old fashioned thinking, my being outdated, my being wrong etc. Disappointingly, you did not talk much about the issue that I am so interested in. My feeling is that, that is not a very fruitful way of engaging in a discussion or discovering knowledge. Any way, I might again be wrong.

    Despite all these, I am grateful to you for educating me and pointing out the holes in my thinking. That will hopefully help. I am also grateful to you for making such great efforts to respond, whichever way. Since you did not discuss the issue of devivaru which I am interested in, I am not asking you to explain anything.

    Thank you very much indeed.

    Sincerely,

    Ranjith

  34. Fran Diaz Says:

    Modern Science is certainly delving into hitherto unexplored areas. Please read the following books – they are fascinating !
    These books may help us to understand some of the Old Ways with new insight …..

    (1) “Secret Life of Plants” by Peter Tompkins & Christopher Bird
    (2) “Tao of Physics” by physicist Dr Fritjof Capra
    (3) “Dancing Wu Li Masters” by Gary Zukav
    (4) “Supernature” by Lyall Watson plus his other books delving into the unknown

  35. Fran Diaz Says:

    Please see website http://www.oralchelation.com/history/index.html
    to get rid of heavy metal (such as Arsenic) poisoning.

  36. RanjithD Says:

    Dear Parinda,

    Since you argued that I was, together with the western modern scientists are trying to villify the ‘traditional knowledge wisdoms of Old world Asia’ and Fran Diaz has directed me to ‘supernature’ etc. I was looking at what the Kelaniya scientists have actually said.

    Here is what I found,

    “Prof.Priyani Paranagama said there was nothing incredible about the fact that they had sought divine intervention before they began research. … when people buy a new vehicle, they take it to Kataragama and invoke blessings of the gods. When they lay the foundation stone for a new house, they light a lamp and ask for god’s blessings. So why are we being ridiculed when we do the same”

    Really Parinda, this is not some advancement of science into the unknown to resurrect the traditional knowledge systems and wisdoms of old Asia’, as you claimed or a scientific inquiry into the ‘supernature’ as Fran Diaz claimed. This is just the ‘game-gode’, mythology re-enacted as ordinary people do on an every day basis. We can only pity them doing it out of ignorance. In Architecture, I am well aware of the mess these mythologies are creating with pada bedeem, square rooting, orientations etc. etc blindly followed without understanding the simple logic they seemed to have had in the past. I wonder what will happen to science if it is to follow this path. It is one thing to re-discover the old world knowledge systems. But this is simply following some ignorant myths.

    Ranjith

  37. parinda81 Says:

    Dear Ranjith,
    The whole intention of my comment was to thwart your intentional attempt of derailing this debate into the question of divinity.

    Please read all your comments. None of those comments give slightest respect or acknowledgement to the findings of Prof. Silva’s team. You had never indicated any objective interest even to give slightest glance into his findings either. The reason could be either this divinity part, or else it would be some other undisclosed reason. It suggests reasonable doubt because you have revealed your affiliation to ideas of Prof. Carlo Fonseka, a well known church going science professor; and one of the personalities tacitly approved divisive politics of LTTE like his church. We all know these elements had historical animosity and a grudge with NDS and they were hiding under the grass till the time comes to strike. You were attacking NDS from the very beginning entirely based on his remark on deities. For us deities’ part is not that important. But what you couldn’t comprehend was that this whole debate is based on an issue of national importance. That is the chronic renal decease. The title of the article we were putting comments was “Crucifixion of Prof. Nalin De Silva. It says…

    “The greater issue at stake here is not Prof. Nalin De Silva’s reputation or any other person’s or institution’s reputation for that matter, but the health and well being of thousands of paddy farmers in Rajarata.
    Those who conduct smear campaigns against him essentially threaten to shut down his group’s future works which according to Prof. De Silva include finding a cure for the disease and promoting wholesome methods of paddy cultivation.
    The people of Rajarata cannot afford an ego battle at their expense. If the SLAAS or the Science faculty academics think that this work should be stopped because of its poor science then they may do so with plausible arguments while holding themselves accountable to the general public, especially to those Rajarata families who are undergoing immense suffering because of the disease.
    Will they stand up to that responsibility? If so, can the SLAAS or the science faculty academics produce an alternative solution to the Rajarata kidney disease? If not why should the public take them seriously?”

    Please asses your own comments to find if they reasonably address the issue that is at stake here? Or they just become a part of the smear campaign of the disgruntled?

    Please read this document. Chronic Kidney disease of Unknown . Chronic Kidney disease of Unknown The title of the document along tells a lot, yes, the whole project was a stalemate with no progress. The authorities had almost abandoned it submitting to the fact that it’s unknown. Everybody needed a breakthrough. To our knowledge, Prof. Silva’s findings brought this most anticipated breakthrough. The critics of the NDS in the media through this unnecessary scientific jargon have done enormous damage for the progress of the said project. This has brought repercussions of sabotaging the much needed jump-start of a project that had been stuck in deadlock affecting the innocents’ lives of thousands.

    According to above said document, there are committees of management, scientific and an International Steering Committee. They were formed to assist in the implementation of this national research effort into CKD of unknown origin. It is their responsibility to go and find if Prof. Silva’s findings have any credible evidence for the claims. Then that will be helpful for the affected people. But you have wittingly or unwittingly contributed to destroying their hope.

    Again, in the first comment you have said… “Can we have a debate on ‘whether people should be encouraged to seek divine help’ to solve their problems’. …this statement will now encourage the Sri Lankan society to seek more and more help from the numerous Devales and is likely to cause much greater harm in the long run than what arsenic and fertilizers have done. I can almost hear what people say at the Kadamandiya, If Prof. Nalin Silva is going to the Devales to get advice on Scientific experiments, why should not we, for our everyday problems?”

    So you think people of “Kadamandiya” are the most stupid bunch of the country. As you clearly have stated, this (divinity part) is likely to cause much greater harm in the long run than what arsenic and fertilizers have done. Really?

    By the way I was disappointed to see one of your remarks. This provided me some glimpse that helped me to asses your opinions and ability to judgment. In your previous comment you have said…“In fact, I am in one of the most ‘unscientific’ disciplines in the world: Architecture.” Have you ever thought why architectural discipline has been housed in Moratuwa University? See how much ignorant you are about your own discipline? You think architecture is one of the most unscientific disciplines; and have failed to recognize architecture as one of the most scientific disciplines of man in his dealing with nature. Under this circumstance, how can you decide whether or not NDS’s research is scientific?
    You have demonstrated your inability to recognize what likely to cause greater harm and what is not.

    Are you confused or trying to confuse the gullible?

  38. RanjithD Says:

    Dear Parinda,

    I am glad you responded. First of all, I was not making an intentional attempt to derail the discussion on the Arsenic issue. I understand that the issue is of national importance, but I also was feeling that the issue of divinity was of some importance too. It is partly because, I have always been baffled by how, many people around me have some faith in these things while I am not. When this cropped up and it also involved respected University Academics from Science, it seemed to me that this is a suitable opportunity to discuss it. Like I have been saying throughout, my intention primarily is to understand, but of course, I raised questions.

    I agree, that I have the slightest interest in the Prof. NDS’s experiement; its details. These are matters beyond me. Like I said, I am not a scientist, I have no knowledge of Science except what I learnt at my AL, So it is better that I do not start talking about things that I do not know and cannot contribute to. There are others of course more qualified than I am to debate that. Since it is also of national importnace, I am sure the issue will be dealt with by the Sri Lankan intellectuals, the government etc. I have some faith in that, eventually we will get there. It seems to have a rough ride. but we will.

    There is no other undisclosed reason as you assume. I have nothing to do with Prof. Carlo Fonseka. I am surprised that you concluded that I am ‘affiliated’ with him, his ideologies etc.; simply because I quoted something he said. I was not ‘attacking’ Prof. NDS. I am questioning because it raises those questions. It is strange that you bundled me up with Prof. Carlo Fonseka and his ideas with just one reference made to him. In this way, we will not be able to make any reference to anyone. I have no agreements with his other views, his Christian faith, LTTE connections etc etc. Can we not agree with someone’s one idea only and not be bundled up with him?

    Please pardon me for not showing due respect for this issue of national importance. I should really be concerned, since I was also born in Nagala; four Kms from Bibile; one of those remote villages. But Like I said, I have all my faith in people like you and others who are more conversant about science.

    However, I was deeply disturbed by the issue that cropped up alongside, which is about devivaru. I have personal experiences of my own mother having been addicted to Devales, and going there for everything. She lost lots of her money and gained nothing. I have watched my sisters going to such places every so often too, neither being able to convince myself to follow suit nor convince my siblings to not do so. Should I not be worried about it when this comes up in a national debate, and buttressed by the highest seat of learning of the Island. Like I said before, I have come across numerous situations of utter mess in architecture, in buildings resulting from these beliefs having been applied with no understanding of their historical meanings and values. I am not saying that the people at the ‘kadamandiya’ are the stupidest people; you put words in my mouth. I have great respect for some of those people, whose innocence and faith cannot be matched. But I stand by what I said, If the idea of devivaru is so ‘scientified’ by these arguements, I feel that they will have major impact in the society; the innocent rural peasants (and even the educated, as this discussion shows) whose gullibility will be exploited to the hilt.

    Now to the issue of Architecture. I do not intend to give you a lecture on architecture to you, but perhaps you should be careful talking about subjects that you have neither studied nor know. I know fully well why architecture is located at Moratuwa; it was just a historical accident. It was earlier affiliated to Colombo. I know you did not study architecture there because if you did, I would have known you. and I also know that architecture does not have a scientific basis; in a conventional sense. Like most people are talking about science. We architects around the world do not have a problem with that too. Now do not mix it with building engineering. But strangely, even though you do not even know what architecure is, you have concluded, that architecture is one of the most scientifc disciplines!!! Now do not get me wrong. As far as architecture is concerned, I know what I am saying. There are only a handful number of people in Sri Lanka, who could talk about architecture with the same academic authority I have on this subject.

    Now to the final thing. You ask me, if I do not even know my discipline, how would I conclude if Prof. NDS’s experiment is not scientific. If you will recall, I did not say anything about this experiment. I did not even say like most others say, that because of this story about devivaru, the findings can be suspect. But after I read, what Prof. Priyani Paranagama has said about people taking their cars to kataragama etc. and that being the kind of basis, I was wondering how it is that such an ordinary myth can reside alongside in a scientist’s mind with more regorous scientific thoughts. Again, do not get me wrong. I am not trying to derail this national debate and discredit the professors Priyani P. and NDS. It is a curious thought.

    The world is a strange place. There are lot of things that we cannot yet comprehend. Devivaru is obviously one. I suppose this also is one of those things.

    Thank you so much for offering your ideas. Although yours differ from mine, they are helpful. If however, you feel that this discussion derails the arsenic issue. perhaps we should stop this nonsense. Arsenic is certainly a more immediate important issue.

    Sincerely,

    Ranjith

  39. parinda81 Says:

    Now our debate has reached to a very interesting stage, in which earlier you complained prof. NDS for dragging science into mythology and now you are complaining me for trying to drag your, “the most unscientific discipline” (according to your classification), architecture into science. Although pretty bluntly you have said that architecture is one of the most unscientific disciplines, let me have the opinion that architecture is not as unscientific as you try to categorize it.

    Dear Ranjith, Despite your caution, I rather like to take a chance to defend what I said about architecture. Sorry for intruding your area to say the reason why I said that architecture is also scientific.

    I know as a matter of fact that architecture and engineering are two different disciplines, but I believe they are interrelated. But it is not the sole reason why architecture getting a scientific foundation.

    One cannot be a good architect if he/she cannot understand the relationship of living space to its environment, climate and geography, sociological aspects and how architectural spaces relate with human activities. And also it is very essential for the architect to know capabilities and limitations of contemporary engineering to determine a practical design. Then how can we say that architecture is unscientific? In ancient time architecture and engineering were considered as one discipline. It was as such in Greece as well as in Asia. We called this discipline “Vasthu Vidyava.” It is another modern decision of labor specialization that divided this discipline into two.

    Architecture, ecology and science functions hand in hand. It is a gross mutilation, a distortion, and a complete misrepresentation of architecture to declare that it is the ‘most unscientific;’ not just unscientific, but “most unscientific.”

    Architect determines the ‘what’ part (what to build) of a structure; the shapes, relationships, environment, human factors and functions; and then the engineer determines the ‘how’ part of it, means the ways and means of building it. For most of architects I know, this ‘what’ part (the design part) has a solid scientific foundation. That may be the reason why living spaces in different regions with different geographical and climatic conditions look different. Architectural spaces in sub-Saharan countries are different to that of northern arctic conditions and tropical conditions. Is it an accident Ranjith? Why there is a pointed shape in the front of a hull of a ship and a fuselage with an aerodynamic front end of an airplane? Are they crazy decisions of unscientific designers?

    However you can reserve your right to live with your beliefs and I have no grudge in it. But I’ll keep in mind that Ranjith D is an architect who considers architecture as one of the most unscientific disciplines. Good luck.
    Thank you Ranjith.

  40. geoff Says:

    Interesting discussion.

    Good on you both.

  41. RanjithD Says:

    Dear Parinda,

    I do not think I complained about your dragging architecture to make it a scientific discipline. I said, in the conventional sense of science, it is not. We are trying to give it a more rigourous scientific basis; but it still is not.

    I must say, that I am impressed with your understanding of architecture; specially the way in which you divided the what and how parts. However, nothing you said makes it a science. Yes we called it vastu vidyava. We still do. That does not make it a science. Yes architecture, ecology and science are connected, that does not make it a science either. Architecture and engineering are connected. That does not make it a science. There are different shapes of buildings in different parts of the world. That does not make it a science. In the world; everything is connected to everything else, and everything can be explained (hopefully divinity too) scientifically.

    There is a simple explanation for what I said. Architecture is not a science. It is primarily an art.

    There is science in it; meaning its material existence is subject to laws of Nature.

    Sincerely,

    Ranjith

  42. parinda81 Says:

    Dear Ranjith,
    As a learned person with wonderfully mastered language skills, you cannot miss the difference between ‘science’ and being ‘scientific.’ You said architecture is most unscientific, but I said no it is not− but one of the most scientific disciplines. Now you are trying to interpret my comment as if I tried to categorize architecture as a science. No I didn’t say that, instead I said that it is scientific.

    Any discipline can be scientific. You may think science as a godly affair meant only for specific breed. For you, science looks more a supernatural affair located above human activities. But for us, science is everywhere; it ranges from pure science to applied science that intertwined with day today affairs of people. Separating science from human activities and their social life is completely a delusion.

    Is paddy cultivation a scientific affair? Farmers’ notion of preserving forestry for the preservation of the water table is a scientific affair? Is it a scientific decision to bake their clay pots at around 800-900 degree heat by potters among the ‘Kadamandiya’ people? Cultivating a little extra paddy called “Kurulu Paluwa” for the birds and friendly pests and insects is a scientific decision or not?

    So please do not miss the point. The word science and becoming scientific have two different meanings, and anyone can be scientific in their respective disciplines.

  43. RanjithD Says:

    Dear Parinda,

    Thank you for drawing my attention to the difference between science and being scientific. As you once declared, my views on science are ‘naspuk’ andold fashioned. But I have been thinking about this since you raised the issue. So please correct me if I am wrong.

    So let me reword it.

    Architecture is not a scientific endeavour. It is primarily an artistic endeavour. Since you did not disagree with my suggestion that Architecture is an art, I assume that you agree with it. Since it is art, it seems it cannot also be scientific, because there is no such thing as a scientific art.

    However, I should also draw your attention to my original statement. Everyting has a context and everything is relative. When I wrote that architecture is one of the most ‘unscientific’ disciplines, I used inverted commas around scientific. I think you know what I meant. I am aware of the scientific alignments of architecture but it is not scientific as such. In the context of the arsenic experiment which is about hard science, I wanted to show that I did not come to the discussion with a grudge / or a veneration for modern science. That is what I meant. Also, I was a bit exaggerating there because when I said ‘the most unscientific’, I was trying to point out that I do not have a modern science bias. We were not arguing about scientificness of architecture.

    Now although I am not a scientist and I have little knowledge of science, I thought about this a bit. It is useful to do so. In my openion, science and scientific are intertwined; Science is the collection of knowledge generated by scientific thinking. If there is science, there should be scientific thinking, and if there is scientific thinking, then it should produce science. This is what I think. When you look at it this way, why I say that architecture is not scientific / or not a science is clear.

    Now, I asked the question, what is scientific thinking. To me, this is synonymous with logical thinking. Now I begin to see, why Prof. NDS who is not a scientist in general sense, has been appointed to be the Dean of the science Faculty. He is a mathematician as I understand. But that is fine because mathematics is the language of logical thinking. While architects do use logical thinking, overridingly, they employ lateral thinking. According to Edward De Bo No that is what brings out creativity. Now I can see why no one would want to appoint an architect as a Dean of a Science Faculty although you said that Architecture is one of the most scientific disciplines.

    As it stands at the moment, I think in science, as much as logical thinking is importnat, precision, validation and proof are also important. Logical thinking is perhaps the bedrock upon these can be constructed. Now I can see, why this Arsenic experiment has become an issue; Those who are questioning its validity may have perhaps, viewed, the notion of ‘devivaru’ not quite fitting into logical thinking.

    Sincerely,

    Ranjith

  44. parinda81 Says:

    Dear Ranjith,
    Certainly I can understand what you have said and unsaid. I can say million of things, but I do not think anything will help at his moment. And on the other hand you are a professional architect, as you have mentioned in your words, “there are only a handful number of people in Sri Lanka, who could talk about architecture with the same academic authority you have on this subject.” So why shouldn’t I take your word?

    You have a promising professional life, which is very important I think. So let this go. That’s fine. But before I say adios, let me say one last thing so you can think about it later on. “Is living an art or a science, or both?”
    Best regards,

  45. RanjithD Says:

    Dear Parinda,

    Ananda Kumaraswamy once said,’everything is art, everyone is an artist’. In the same breadth, we can say, everything is science, everyone is a scientist !.

    Many thanks,

    Ranjith

  46. Prof. Ruwan Ferdinandez Says:

    Ranjith, While I regrettably though, haven’t had the luxury of time to read all your comments, let me answer a couple of misquotations I’ve just spotted in the last part of one of your comments.
    In your attempt to debate philosophically, you seemed to have moved too far away from the simple ground reality. Nalin is a scientist, a mathematician. Mathematics is Physics, Chemistry and in short, the basis of Physical sciences. In every Science Faculty in the world, there is a Mathematics department. Nalin is a professor in the mathematics department, which is one integral part of the Science faculty in Kelaniya as well. The Dean of the Science Faculty will always be somebody from one of the constituent departments and hence Nalin is now. Nobody questions that.
    But what everybody questions is his involvement in a research that is not Mathematics but Chemistry. If he has done any Chemistry, published anything that would be OK. Unfortunately his track record says otherwise. By dragging almighty into this issue he proved why he shouldn’t be in this research area. It is also unhelpful to make some wild leap in an attempt to connect their research to the nearest point of public interest, such as the God’s connection in this case. A scientist should be able to explain an incident in technical terms or they must carry on experiments until they are able to do so than cutting short the research to bring God in. It is not ‘devivaru’ idea that is not fitting in this research, but Nalin himself. He should do what he could do not what he shouldn’t be doing.

  47. Common Sense Says:

    Dear Prof. Ferdinandez, It is extremely unheathy for academics to tell other people what science they should or should not do. If you find that a body of work is technically deficient, then critic the work, do not attack the author. This behaviour is juvenile and unscientific.

    You are attacking another professor for not being scientifically rigourous in his reasoning (and I completely agree with those points you raised) however your last phrase is unbecoming a scientist.

  48. Common Sense Says:

    I find it quite depressing when I hear others of South Asian origin refer to science as ‘Western science’. It is as if analytical evidence based reasoning is an alien concept to ancient cultures based in the East.

    Large parts of science, mathematics and medicine is based on theory, reasoning and discoveries that originated in the East. Quite a lot of these postings seem to be about the Scientific Method which is the very basis of conducting science.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method#Elements_of_scientific_method

    The Scientific Method is not a concept completely unknown to ancient South Asian civilisations. It is even somewhat similar to the Buddha’s Kalama Sutra.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalama_Sutta

    I certainly do not want to use religion to justify the Scientific Method! But rather to point out that some of the basis of so called ‘Western’ science and philosophy has been with the East in some form for a long time. I think its time peoples of the East feel that we also have ‘proud ownership’ of science and critical thinking. Let us please try not to talk about Westen science but just science.

  49. Common Sense Says:

    Dear Leela, I’m not sure what your background is but I have previously seen monotheists get confused when physicists such as Hawking mention ‘God’ in their writings. I’m not sure whether these scientists mention ‘God’ to help convey a concept or sell more books! Sometimes it’s easy for a scientist to use the word ‘God’ to refer to the beauty and harmony they see in their reasoning about the universe. This may be regrettable. However there is little doubt over the beliefs of scientists such as Hawking.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Hawking#Religious_views

  50. Prof. Ruwan Ferdinandez Says:

    Common Sense, You are barking up the wrong tree, I am afraid. You probably know, there are experts in every branch of science. Unlike the days of Newton, any such expert is fairly well known, within scientists or within the respective countries. Did you see the letter written by the SLAAS attacking Nalin? It’s not good read and it is very non-scientific but when Nalin has done the wrong in the first place, you can’t blame the SLAAS lot. Nalin should not put his finger everywhere, he has no knowledge of Chemistry and ask Prof. Illeperuma, who did a lot on this particular subject as well. Illeperuma was telling us the other day that they also found Cd in these samples tested, which obviously is a much more harmful chemical than As in many ways. When the questions were raised privately, Nalin found a co-author in God in his work, which suggests that he shouldn’t be in this work at all. Unfortunately, Nalin is the one who lost his credibility in the game. But he likes such attention. Somebody also showed me a comment from another academic from Oxford on this matter, it is not good for Nalin’s reputation, as a scientist. He should leave the work to those who are more prone to such issues, especially when the issue in question matters to the wider public.

  51. Senevirath Says:

    Nalin never talked about “”DEVALA MAYAVVEEMA ETC ET
    this was all about meditation He was talking about daties or good avanced “”PEOPLE” who like to help meditators.Do meditation and see

    meditators found Ayurveda

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