Where We Wonder: Scientific Literacy In The 21st Century
A discussion with some scientific superstars about scientific knowledge today.
In a world where everything we do seems tied to science and technology, a quote like this is pretty scary:
“The most terrifying problem in American university education is the profound lack of scientific literacy for the people we give diplomas to who are not scientists or engineers,”
“The hidden Achilles’ heel is that while we’ve found ways to educate scientists in the humanities, the reverse has never really happened. Everybody knows this, but nobody wants to do anything about it.”
Well, there are some people who want to do something about it...people like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York. What’s a benefit of scientific literacy to him? It “inoculates you against charlatanism.”
There’s a big benefit - the more you understand, the less chance you’ll have the wool pulled over your eyes by people like slick-talking politicians.
But here’s the funny thing...you want to arm yourself against scientific doublespeak from the political class? New Jersey Representative Rush Holt - himself a Princeton physicist - says of his colleagues:
“There are 435 people in the House and 420 don’t know much about science and choose not to.”
So today, a conversation about scientific literacy - with some of the leading thinkers in the field. We’ll talk about getting students more interested in the sciences - about how to talk with science “disbelievers” and how science impacts politics.
***This episode was produced by Gabriel Sistare and originally aired on 9/22/11***