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The Nerd Druid


Druids were high-ranked professionals in ancient Celt. Their job, apart from cutting mistletoe and brewing magic potions, was to preserve and uphold Celtic culture and thought. They were healers, lorekeepers, judges, diplomats, and religious leaders. However, doctrine prevented them from writing anything down, and most of what we know (or think we know) about druids comes from sketchy descriptions from Romans or the imaginative fantasies of Rene Goscinny and Gary Gygax.

It is believed that druids understood and practised astronomy. As healers, they would have to be intimately familiar with herbology and potioncraft. These made them one of the earliest scientists in northern Europe.

The word nerd first appears as the name of an animal in one of Dr Seuss' books in 1950. In the ensuing decades, it came to be associated with intellectual obsessive people who lack social skills and spend most of their time in activities that are unpopular, non-mainstream, exotic and highly technical and abstract. The term was popularised by the '70s US sitcom Happy Days. However, with the rise of Silicon Valley and the information age, where so-called nerds tend to be the most successful (e.g. Bill Gates), the term nerd has been reclaimed as a badge of pride. Also, with the growing popularity of nerds in fiction such as Peter Parker, Hermione Granger, Sheldon Cooper and the Doctor, being a nerd is now considered not entirely uncool.




Druidcrafting is a term from the fantasy roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). In the game, druids are a class of nature-themed magic-wielders who can change shape and become wild animals. Druidcrafting is a simple spell that these druids can cast at almost any time, with effects that range from knowing what the weather might be in the near future or making a flower bloom. Within the scope of the fantasy game, such magical effects are minor. Within the realm of science and reality, these are extraordinary, though not entirely impossible.

I am not a druid. I am perhaps a semi-nerd. I am a student of science. I used to be a full-time science researcher. At present I am on an extended sabbatical. Years of close proximity to science and scientists have taught me that the only way to properly learn about the amazing scientific advancements that are happening every day in the world is to read the original paper written by the people who did that bit of science. However, that is not possible (and perhaps a bit unfair) to the layperson, who has to depend on news outlets and popular science articles for their daily dose of science1. The problem with these articles is twofold : (a) they are often sensationalized, to the detriment of facts and a cool analytical approach that science needs and (b) they are often rather incomplete and do not cite sources, an act that is critical in science reporting.

I created this website for three reasons. First, to write articles about what is going on in the scientific world in a manner that is readable and enjoyable for the common folk while having enough scientific facts, references and analyses to satisfy the more technical minded. Second, I wish to foster a sense of scientific spirit and temper among my readers, to cultivate an attitude of ask-before-you-believe, to instil in them a sense of what is science and what is nonscience. The last word of the last sentence, a word that rhymes rather ironically with nonsense, is a cancer of human society. Nonscience does not mean anything that is not science. It does not apply to the arts and the humanities, to commerce and statecraft and sociopolitics. It does, however, apply to beliefs and traditions and superstitions that have no scientific basis whatsoever. Practices such as homeopathy and astrology thrive only due to the gullibility and lack of scientific education of the masses. This is nonscience. And I hope to, at least in a limited fashion and to the best of my ability, ameliorate such nonsense.

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  1. Note : very few people actually care about science unless of course it is an Ebola scare or the latest news on artificially intelligent programs taking over the world