I would like to bring some attention to this very important issue. This is a perfect example of things that can happen when outlandish stories start circulating on the internet regarding anything scientific in nature. Renowned scientist George Church said:
“The public should be able to detect cases where things seem implausible. Everybody’s fib detector should have been going off. They should have said, ‘What? Who would believe this?’ … This really indicates that we should have scientific literacy.”
George is spot on. The internet, right or wrong, fuels the fodder on 24 hour news channels. The montra “if it’s on the internet, it must be true” is scary and not going away. He also states: “We really should get the public of the entire world to be able to detect the difference between a fact and a complete fantasy that has been created by the Internet.”
“I do want to connect the public to science because there are so many decisions to be made if the way they learn it, if they learn it faster by talking about Neanderthals than they did by getting rote learning in high school, that’s great.”
There is a great need to improve science literacy in the general public. In my opinion, logic should be a requirement in the standards taught as part of science in primary and secondary education. It is so troubling. I can see it now…next there will be a claim that a scientist in South Korea has successfully cloned wooly mammothDNA into a stem cell that replicates itself opening up the possibility of bringing back the long extinct species.
BTW, did you hear the news? They have cloned a wooly mammoth!
One day, I will write a post about using the word “they” for any statement about experiment results or innovation.
I decided to go into the office while the Inauguration was taking place. I will catch the speech on the internet this week. I’ve heard good things about President Obama’s speech and the wording he used (finally) on climate change. However, the most (in quantity) buzz was about the First Lady’s new hairstyle sporting bangs. I adore the First Couple. I think they have taken the spotlight in stride and I expect big things in the second term. It is just troubling to think a considerable amount of press is coming from a change in hairstyle by Mrs. Obama. I must admit, it did make The Daily Show and Colbert Report fun to watch. I dream of the day when substance will garner more ratings than discussing the change in appearance of a public official (or their spouse). My only hope the new twitter account and bangs are just the first step in promoting more grand ideas to make the country better. You have to love a good bait and switch.
I’m sorry. I can not personally stand for politics in science. The climate hearings a few years back are what gave the Koch brother/Big Oil-backed “scientists” their first national recognition which opened the flood gates for what we see today within the general public who believe there is still a debate among scientists about the effect of human activity on climate change. Giving this additional talk time to the politically-charged deniers more spotlight makes it even more difficult for sane people to keep up. Unfortunately, those who know and try to speak the truth can’t shout. If we do, the politically biased members of the debate just call us bleeding hearts and tree huggers. This is one reason climate scientists quickly backed down in 2008ish.
One of my top goals in life is to help the general public understand something very plain and simple. A vast, almost unanimous, number of scientists do not pursue science for riches or become a celebrity. Becoming a scientists takes years of very hard work and dedication that can not be understood unless you have been through it. There is flexibility in your schedule in grad school. You are able to pick which 80 hours a week you work. Even after receiving a Ph.D., scientists still must wait years (usually) before having a steady job, ie faculty position or equivalent. The postdoc is a long, arduous job with long long hours. There is no money or security incentive for a majority of scientists until well into their 40s. Does this seem like a glamorous path to riches and celebrity?
I digress. My point is; the reason scientists do what they do is because they have a passion, a curiosity which compels them to figure out how Nature works and finding answers for their/our questions. Period. Scientists are objective. We have to be. Going into an investigation with pre-conceived, subjective ideas will lead to ruin as no other members of the scientific community will consider your results valid. Therefore, no publications will occur making funding impossible. Objectivity is a must. I sound very made in this post and maybe I am. Misconceptions don’t sit well with me.
This is a call to the sane, logical members of society, scientists or not, to help. We need a national voice, a portal to convey the truth. I have a headache.