Saturday, October 27, 2012

America's Science Problem and Politics

The November 2012 issue of Scientific American has an article by Shawn Lawrence Otto called "America's Science Problem" and I would encourage all chemistry majors to read it.  (It is renamed "Antiscience Beliefs Jeopardize U.S. Democracy" in the online version.)  The author discusses the origins of the anti-science movement in the USA, beginning with the attacks on the theory of evolution by Democrat William Jennings Bryan.  It develops its thesis by describing denial of scientific processes, scientific outcomes and personal attacks on scientists through today.  Included in this description are Democrats who believe vaccines cause autism, have knee-jerk reactions to possible health implications for technology (cancer & mobile phones), and Republicans who deny anthropogenic climate change, evolutionary biology, the meaning of the fossil record over geologic time, and an anti-regulatory zeal against environmental protections among a host of other examples.  As a student of science you should be aware of this continuing development in the social context of scientific work.  This is the job climate you are entering.  Those of you with voting privileges in the USA, I would strongly encourage you to take a close look at the candidates on your ballots and consider these issues among others you value. 

You can access the digital version of the Scientific American article using the above link.  In this same issue is an analysis of the candidates for President and what they say (and don't say) about their support of science.

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