What does it mean to be scientifically literate in the 21st century?
|September 26, 2007||Posted by leebowman under Culture, Education, Science|
How do we measure the scientific literacy of a society? How do we boost it? What is the value of this literacy? Who is responsible for fostering it?
These were questions posed by Seed Magazine to its readers in its second annual Science Writing Contest. Among the judges were Adam Bly, editor-in-chief and founder of Seed, Chris Mooney, Seed’s Washington correspondent, PZ Myers, Seed columnist and author of Pharyngula, as well as the editors of Seed.
The question of free inquiry within the realms of science, even that which may challenge ‘well established theories’, such as neoDarwinian evolution, has become a hot bed issue. But should it be? I and others say not, since many of the so called ‘minor’ points waiting to be resolved with NDE are actually major foundational principles of its purported evolutionary process, and are therefore subject to modification.
In Thomas Martin’s winning essay, he tends to equate ‘scientific literacy’ with free inquiry, and going a step further, paints a disturbing picture of apparent “evidence blindness”, albeit one that has been advanced by others, both in and out of the science community.
To quote, “As noted recently in Seed, leading disciplinary practitioners who feel threatened by unorthodox new findings will sometimes band together to suppress such information, with the explicit intention of blocking its appearance in the journals.”
Another disturbing observation by Thomas, and one that may well be fostered by departmental and funding policies that help to promote it. He states,” Over the past few decades, growing evidence from cognitive science has revealed significant limits on the ability of individuals to criticize their own viewpoints.” And, I might add, the conclusions of other research. In other words, blame the system. Play by the rules to guarantee continued funding. If you deviate, you’re dead.
He talks of “evidence based debates”, and implies that rather than be harmed, science benefits from that posture. Sound familiar? It’s good to hear it coming form the academic side. I can’t help being deeply impressed by this discourse from a teaching professional in an honors program at a leading college, Arizona State University, and am encouraged that a new era of more objective thinking may ensue. For the complete essay, go here:
Second place winner Steven Saus, a nuclear medicine technologist at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, OH makes equally good points along the same lines. He states: “There is a lot of work needed to fully shift our society to this postmodernist style of scientific literacy. Our sacred cows herd us away from competing theories.” Go here: