Not everyone needs to have a graduate level understanding of science. However, gaining scientific literacy is a process of equipping oneself with tools that augment decision-making in every aspect of life -- from making health-care decisions, to evaluating government policies.
When it comes to scientific topics, both scientists and laypeople hide behind the excuse that the general public in this country simply doesn't have the education to process such complex information. This is leading to real problems.
Our story of the cozy partnership between political leaders and the fossil fuel industry now moves to Wyoming, where the state has moved to block the efforts by 26 states to modernize the science curriculum taught in our nation's schools.
Children grow up healthier and happier when they experience a direct connection to nature. Just as importantly, those young people are also far more likely to value the natural world when they've developed a connection to it. The need for this has never been greater than it is today.
The oxygen we breathe, the water we drink and the sugar we eat are all chemicals. But somehow "chemical" has become a dirty word, synonymous with "toxin," and "chemical-free" is now a popular, albeit nonsensical, advertising slogan.
We can analyze this paper and the findings the way we might analyze a basketball loss. In basketball, we see only the game being played on the court. In research, we can only read the paper and interpret the data we are given.
We must bridge the gap between the science we value and where we are now. We know that education is the starting place -- improving science education in the schools, and improving access to higher education for all. It's not enough, however.
Apparently, scientific information, no matter how solid, is unable to persuade a good many people of the reality of climate change. At the same time we're finding that less objective (and less scientifically valid) types of information can affect people's views.
I didn't like this question: "What gas do most scientists believe causes temperatures in the atmosphere to rise?" Why was it posed in a way that fuels the perception that this is simply a matter of opinion (or even worse, "belief")? Shame on Pew.
A paper in this week's Nature Climate Change reinforces a really important insight about the limits of our ability to reason and think rationally. Dan Kahan and colleagues demonstrate how greater science literacy leads those who deny climate change to deny it more.