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Published on Nov 30, 2009
NOTE: A lot of complaints on two issues that I want to address:
1. Big Bang "The universe began with a giant explosion." First, this was not MY wording, it is from the NSF S&E survey of literacy, so there is nothing I can do to change it. "Explosion" was possibly used because "expansion" was tested to have a very low word recognition. "Explosion" can mean any sudden increase in volume or release of energy, or it can be narrowed to refer to only chemical reactions. The Big Bang can be called an explosion in the broad sense of a rapid expansion.
2. Witches. Again, not my wording. Wicca is a religion/cult belief/tradition. Witches are magical beings who have mystical powers. Perhaps some people got the two mixed up, but I think the results are still fairly in line with belief in magical powers. Muslim, and many Christian groups strongly advocate a belief in the active demonic agency of witches. Note that witches are at the bottom of a long list of paranormal beliefs.
Despite great strides in our understanding, the average person still does not understand science in the facts or in the practice, and instead fills the void with pseudoscience. This reflects a worldview that values an emphasis on commonly accepted, traditional lore, and a general disinterest in the role of science and reason in our lives. Science is perceived by the media, government, and popular conciousness as something that happens to other people.
This is unacceptable. We need to find a way to reach out with reason to the unreasonable, with knowledge to the ignorant, or else we will be unprepared when the moment of crisis finally arrives. There has never been a more important time to value and respect science, technology and reason. Those who value science can not retreat into their academic towers. We are dependent on popular, political support for this effort, and we will never advance to the next stage without overwhelming public momentum. Outreach is essential, and it can start anywhere, and at any level.
I have a message and a challenge to all viewers. Do something to raise awareness of the role of science in our society, the importance of reason. Take it as a personal responsibility, or no-one will.
Figures are mostly from the 2008 NSF Report on Science and Engineering Indicators. I highly recommend this site. "As the scientific and technical content of modern life grows, citizens increasingly need to be more scientifically literate to make sound public policy and personal choices." http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind08...