Monday, June 28, 2010

Society's aversion to science

“Why do we need the National Weather Service when we have the Weather Channel?”

Congressman Rush Holt of New Jersey addressed the opening session of the annual meeting of State Geologists on Sunday, speaking about the origins and impacts of society's aversion to science. Rep. Holt, who has a PhD in physics, argued that following Sputnik, the US took actions that effectively moved science out of our culture to be something that is only done by scientists. He said the of 1958 National Defense Education Act pretty much told 80% of the population that science was not something they could understand. This separation has led to a societal aversion to science, he said.

It's also led to quotes such as the one above, that he paraphrased from one of his Congressional colleagues, who did not understand that the Weather Channel relies on government science to present its forecasts. This is emblematic of the disconnect between the role of science in our lives and the perception of the value of science by society.

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