This week three eminent scientists won the Nobel prize in physics for observing ripples in space-time called gravitational waves. Another trio of researchers won the world’s most famous award (the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine) because of their molecular-level explanations for the body’s circadian rhythm. Meanwhile in Mzansi, an Indian speaker was invited to speak at the University of Cape Town about the decolonisation of science. CJ Raju made astounding claims that some scientists, such as UCT’s George Ellis, dismissed as “pure rubbish” according to one report. Several fundamental beliefs held by scientists, the professor apparently argued, should be replaced by the wisdom of the Indian sages.We have been here before. When former president Thabo Mbeki questioned the science of immunology — for which he had neither the knowledge nor the qualifications — sycophants lined up to defend open-mindedness, free speech, non-conventional thinking and indigenous wisdom. Those who poi...

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