|Year : 2015 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 1-2
Scientific temper - Nature or nurture
Department of Orthodontics, Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
|Date of Submission||02-May-2015|
|Date of Acceptance||02-May-2015|
|Date of Web Publication||12-Jun-2015|
Department of Orthodontics, Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Padmanabhan S. Scientific temper - Nature or nurture
. J Indian Orthod Soc 2015;49:1-2
"Scientific temper" is an intriguing term first used by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1946.  While this phrase might seem like an exclusive prerequisite of the ivory towered scientists, Jawaharlal N later explained it as "a scientific approach, the adventurous and yet critical temper of science, the search for truth and new knowledge, the refusal to accept anything without testing and trial, the capacity to change previous conclusions in the face of new evidence, the reliance on observed fact and not on preconceived theory, the hard discipline of the mind - all this is necessary, not merely for the application of science but for life itself and the solution of its many problems." 
Scientific temper is a way of life, an attitude that involves the application of logic. So do we all possess the "Scientific temper?" Certainly!… for the human mind is naturally inquisitive and blessed with the spirit of inquiry, logic and reasoning. All the more when one is a professional in a highly sought after field with intensive training. However, as creatures of habit do we find it more comfortable to fall into complacent, established patterns of behavior in life and thereby also the way we practice our craft?
"It works well in my hands" or "this is the way we have always done it" are popular refrains that might reflect a reluctance to move out of our comfort zones. This might apply to methods employed in clinical practice and percolates down to systems used in teaching and even evaluation.
This is the age of evidence-based health care and with increased accountability placed on health care providers, never has it been more important to keep the "scientific temper" alive. While knowledge transfer is vast due to the technology boom, a lesser known phrase "knowledge translation" or "KT" has often been used in recent times and reflects an underlying concern.  The underutilization of evidence in patient care.  It is an umbrella term which refers to a spectrum of activities which would move the research from the laboratory, the research journal and academic conference into the hands of people and organizations who would put it to practical use. It has been described as a dynamic and iterative process that includes synthesis, dissemination, exchange and ethically sound application of knowledge to provide more effective health care. 
In this milieu of "publish or perish" where research and publishing becomes a compulsion, one often forgets that the primary purpose of research is to enhance the quality of patient care. To quote Albert Einstein "We can't solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
The execution of the scientific method is not flawless for we know that except in exact sciences, it is impossible to verify a hypothesis, we merely fail to refute it. Over time, research has progressed from a state of mellow inquiry that was probably well-served with inspiration and inherent common sense. Research today has become a regimental process with a structured protocol that is applied right from conception to the dissemination of findings. It requires constant learning and quite often "unlearning." Another pitfall is that researchers being human are not without bias and predisposition toward their research. This is where the scientific temper becomes crucial for both researcher and peer reviewer with vital elements of objectivity, healthy skepticism, rationality and additional qualities of fairness and democracy.
Other key players in the "KT" cycle are the target audience and beneficiaries of this research - clinicians, policy makers and patients. The orthodontic community has always been sensitive to the need for bridging the gap between research and clinical practice.  The "evidence iceberg," an extension of the evidence pyramid used in medicine is a guide to the discerning end user and represents the hierarchy of investigations and their clinical applications in orthodontics.  Systematic reviews and randomized clinical trials are at the top of the iceberg. Ideas, expert opinions and editorials are right at the bottom.
For those of you still reading this, allow me to express my gratitude to all esteemed members of the Indian Orthodontic Society for giving me an opportunity to be a minute cog in a small wheel of the "KT" machine. I also thank Dr. Gurkeerat Singh and his team for their contributions to this issue of the JIOS.
I thank in advance authors, editors, reviewers and readers for their thoughtful contributions. I hope their incisive and evocative inputs will help keep us all in good scientific temper.
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