As we know from any reading of the morning papers, Americans are rethinking, politicking, debating and suing as never before about what we teach our children and spend our tax dollars on.
From climate change to embryonic stem-cell research, from evolution to theories of the origins of life and the universe, science and scientific information is being yanked back and forth in high-profile public debates of urgent consequence to our nation’s fiscal and educational future. The oncoming presidential election year promises even greater degrees of controversy and contention, and the outcomes are less than certain.
From the sidelines, the 95 percent of humanity that lives beyond our shores watches these debates with more than passing interest. On the pressing concern of global climate change, given the considerable and disproportionate measure of America’s transfer of carbon from earth to sky, the outcome of our national tug-of-war contest over science will necessarily affect the future well-being of the entire planet.
Few people understand fully, or even partially, what science is. Moreover, the nonscientist cannot help but misunderstand scientific terms by and large misused by our sound-bite screen media. By preying on this lack of public and media knowledge about the workings of science, those with decidedly unscientific religious and political agendas have been successful at distorting and misrepresenting scientific information to lend support to their false or misleading arguments.