Wednesday, May 06, 2015

I’m not a scientist ... But, I'm not an idiot either!

In the introductory class that I am teaching this term, I reminded them--yet again--about the importance of general education.  In order to further drive home the point, I pulled up this interactive quiz on scientific literacy.

The awesome advantage of teaching in these times when I can project learning materials like that quiz straight from the web and have the entire class participate in it.  I tell ya, a classroom is not for nonstop lecturing, and I feel sorry for all those students held captive in rooms where the instructors love listening to themselves!

"Oh my god!" exclaimed a student at one of the questions (#7) that had drawn a miserable correct-response rate in the survey of Americans.  It was a question where answers based off religious explanations sharply diverge from the scientific explanations.

The US is becoming one heck of a crazy country with its anti-science attitude, which finds a home in only one of the two major parties: the Geriatrics Only Party.  The GOP's "leaders" are getting more and more insane with every passing day.


The Pulitzer-winning science writer at the New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert, writes:
Last week, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, headed by Texas Republican Lamar Smith, approved a bill that would slash at least three hundred million dollars from NASA’s earth-science budget. ... Defunding NASA’s earth-science program takes willed ignorance one giant leap further. It means that not only will climate studies be ignored; some potentially useful data won’t even be collected. ...
The vote on the NASA bill came just a week after the same House committee approved major funding cuts to the National Science Foundation’s geosciences program, as well as cuts to Department of Energy programs that support research into new energy sources. As Michael Hiltzik, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, noted, the committee is “living down to our worst expectations.”
Yep, this is the country that once sent astronauts to the moon. And now it is the same country that wants to make sure that there will be less money for scientific research, especially on one of the most urgent issues of the day that the entire world is worried about.

Kolbert writes:
Cutting NASA and the N.S.F.’s climate-science budgets isn’t going to alter the basic realities of climate change. No one needs an advanced degree to understand this. Indeed, the idea that ignoring a problem isn’t going to make it go away is one that kids should grasp by the time they’re six or seven. But ignoring a problem does often make it more difficult to solve. And that, you have to assume, in a perverse way, is the goal here. What we don’t know, we can’t act on.
 To use Yakov Smirnoff's line from a different context, "America, what a country!"

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