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Public Understanding of Science September 28, 2007

Posted by Hegemony in Science, Science Rants.

Science is important… really important. But the average person doesn’t really pay much attention to it. Some may find it intimidating, others boring, still others are opposed to scientific reason preferring to place their confidence in spirituality. People avoid scientific news and information too often. This may not seem like a problem on its surface. But I am here to tell you that it is (at least in my opinion). Fact of the matter is that people make poor decisions based on bad science. If they have no frame of reference how can they be expected to know good science from bad? If we are to survive as a species we need to embrace science.

Don’t believe me? I see you sitting there, smirking… well wipe that grin off you face. For I come armed with proof. Case in point, the dihydrogen monoxide fiasco. “But wait”, you’re saying, “wasn’t that like 15 years ago?” Yes… yes it was. But people still fall for it. Otherwise reasonable people that don’t have a good grasp of science (or internet access apparently) publicly state they are against dihydrogen monoxide. Just look at the wikipedia page here. But that’s a mostly harmless example… you can’t go far saying things about wanting to ban water before someone sets you straight. But sometimes there are those that take it one step further.

Next we have good old intelligent design. People that are unable to come to grips with a more adult way of viewing life and the world become creationists. Those that wish to trick the ignorant into believing what they do call it “intelligent design”. Ignorance of science makes people susceptible to this. There have been places and times when this has gained so much support that school boards have attempted to have intelligent design taught in biology courses. See examples from recent years here and here. The second is about the evolution disclaimer stickers from Georgia, I won’t get into that too much here. This is a threat to education. If you give children mixed messages about science they may never trust what it really has to teach them. Of course this just causes more people to be ignorant of science.

Now we see the culmination of what can happen when people do not understand science. A new rise in HIV infection seems to be linked to a misconception among young people that there is a cure for HIV. Read about it here. From the article:

The poll of 1,000 people found more than 20% of people aged 18 to 24 mistakenly thought there was a cure for HIV.”

Wow, how about that… just because science isn’t your thing isn’t any reason to assume anything about dangerous diseases. What a rude awakening that would be to go into the doctor and find out you have HIV and then ask about the cure. No one should be left in that situation. No one should be failed by society like that. Science should be presented as a necessity to one’s understanding of the world. We should all work toward that.



1. owen59 - September 29, 2007

Yes science is very important. Everything the average westerner touches in a day has a basis in modern science. Yet the scientific community can tend to do their politics in a very Quixotic manner. The issue of religion and spirituality is really only seen by scientists as diametrically opposite. Others don’t. So why the preaching? Where there is a lack of knowledge, teach.

2. Hegemony - September 29, 2007

It doesn’t matter how much we may want to disseminate knowledge. When schools let students get away with 1 year of high school science they don’t have the ability to think critically. They find it easy to ignore science. I don’t know what you mean about the politics of the scientific community, it seems the scientist are not listened too if people have made up their mind… i.e. the evolution debate. It doesn’t matter that every reputable scientist agrees with it, they still have little control over the views of the populace and their attempts to legislate for intelligent design.

3. lizzy - October 30, 2007

the biggest obstacle to scientific awakening is the covetous manner in which all scientific info gets controlled in PAID ABSTRACTS instead of PUBLIC ACCESS to knowledge. That’s my rant. It’s a disgrace.

4. Kahlnen - November 2, 2007


Researchers Knock Out HIV

ScienceDaily (Oct. 21, 2007) — With the latest advances in treatment, doctors have discovered that they can successfully neutralise the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The so-called ‘combination therapy’ prevents HIV from mutating and spreading, allowing patients to rebuild their immune system to the same levels as the rest of the population…

5. Kahlnen - November 5, 2007


Unique Results from Swedish Study of HIV vaccine

A Swedish HIV vaccine study conducted by researchers at Karolinska Institutet (KI), Karolinska University Hospital and the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (SMI) has produced surprisingly good results. Over 90 per cent of the subjects in the phase 1 trials developed an immune response to HIV.

6. Gotta Love Sensationalism « Teacherconfessional’s Blog - March 6, 2009

[…] read this blog post for another take on scientific understanding in America. « Confusing Teachers […]

7. Kaopi - January 11, 2010

I totally agree. Science is important but some people don’t see it these days. thats sad

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