Science. In America, it seems that science is more of a concept than a real thing. Survey after survey reveals that the average American is pathetic in their scientific knowledge. Surveys repeatedly show that the most people think the Earth is closer to the sun during the summer, they don’t understand evolution, and they think astrology works.
You are probably asking yourself, so what? Most people will enter careers where they don’t need to know how a computer works, how old the Earth is, or the name of the nearest star.
The problem is that our world is rapidly changing, and we can longer afford to have citizens that are scientifically illiterate. Many high tech jobs in the United States are being filled by people from other countries. If we are going to be competitive in the World, we need to produce a workforce that is prepared to meet the challenges of the future.
Our citizens are going to be asked to vote for their political leaders, and there are many issues that are science based. Cloning will one day make it possible for humans to make genetic copies of themselves, or grow organs for transplants. Stem cell research promises to cure diseases before they even start. Global climate change is affecting the way we live and poses serious questions for future generations.
How can the average person make intelligent decisions about issues such as these, without having a firm grasp of science and technology?
What is equally troubling is that there are organizations that are intentionally creating misleading information to confuse the public and generate doubt. There is perhaps no better example than the issue of climate change. The major oil companies have spent millions of dollars in a disinformation campaign. They try to push their viewpoint that the climate change is still in question, and that scientists don’t agree on it. Even the Bush Administration altered scientific reports on global warming, injecting doubt where certainty existed.
It is time that science is elevated to the status it deserves. Science is the search for the truth, and we need to start embracing and supporting the scientists who have truly transformed our knowledge of the universe and ourselves.