Just as a sponge can only take on water after being wrung out, so too must we be able -- regardless of our experience or education -- to continually renounce our own fullness, lest we become bloated and stale.
We are indeed an exceptional country, and we should celebrate that. But patriotism also means calling our nation out for its problems and troubles. Here are my top four patriotic criticisms of Americans that I wish a politician would articulate.
Given the impoverished state of American literacy, is it any wonder that negative political ads, so filled with half-truths, misleading statements and boldface lies, have had such an impact on millions of adults?
There's an information blockade in America and it must be broken. In order to find crucial facts, numbers and outside perspectives a person must spend an hour searching and cross-searching on the computer.
The consensus as I've experienced as a researcher is that (1) ignorant political attacks will not affect our ability to get work done, and (2) it is not our job to help the public understand our work. I think both claims are wrong, and potentially dangerous to the future of science.
In the 6th century BC, the shrewd general and philosopher developed his influential military strategy against the backdrop of China's "Warring States" era. It is, unfortunately, more applicable than ever.
The culture of anti-science is creating an alternative universe of meaning in which scientific practices and findings, which tend to subvert fundamentalist social and cultural and political principles, are suspect and/or dismissed.
Perhaps conservatives realize that their attractiveness is dependent on ignorance at many levels: ignorance of the Constitution; ignorance of the importance of science; ignorance of their own ignorance.
As the power of science increases, certain segments of the population cling to religion and popular myths in order to defend against reason and expertise. They are now quickly becoming corporate pawns.
The Inquisitions were infamous for their intolerance and hostility to science. Six centuries later, we still have wannabe inquisitors among us, and they are growing their ranks through the support of like-minded candidates.