Monday, July 13, 2009

Science Is Wonderful Except...

Ars Technica has an article documenting the strange contradictions between Americans and science as shown by Pew Research Center surveys. What is strange is that while the vast majority (84%) feel that science has been a boon to society and that scientists have had a positive impact (70%) on our lives, their actual findings and theories aren't thought of quite so highly.

Global Warming
Eighty-four percent of scientists consider the case for anthropogenic climate change to be on solid footing, and over 90 percent were either very or somewhat concerned about it (the discrepancy arises from a those scientists who consider the current warning to be driven primarily by natural events). This is especially striking given that geoscientists were the least represented scientific discipline in the survey, and acceptance of anthropogenic climate change is highest among climatologists.

In contrast, only about half of the public are convinced of the scientific community's conclusions, and that drops to only 21 percent among those who self-identify as conservative Republicans. Even among the most liberal fraction of the public, however, the numbers are lower than within the scientific community. One reason for this is that only half of the public believes that the scientific community has itself reached agreement on these matters.

Evolution.
But it's clear that there's a tremendous amount of confusion on the topic. Only 60 percent of the public thinks that science has reached a consensus on its acceptance of the evidence for evolution (97 percent of scientists think so) and half of those who think that species haven't evolved say that science doesn't conflict with their religious beliefs.

And let's not even get started on stem cell research...

So despite the majority of scientists having very strong science based beliefs in regards to the above examples and our expressed trust in science and scientists in general, many Americans still refuse to believe the results which brings up the $64,000 question. Why?

While the Ars Technica article throws out lots of possibilities, my money is on the dumbing down of our schools led by morons like those in the Texas state board of education who wouldn't know science if it bit them on the rear and our contining penchant to get the "science" knowledge that we chose to believe from big business, anonomously written web sites, and Sunday sermons. Other thoughts?

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