Here is an excerpt:
Some of our gravest challenges—climate change, the energy crisis, national economic competitiveness—and gravest threats--global pandemics, nuclear proliferation—have fundamentally scientific underpinnings. Yet we still live in a culture that rarely takes science seriously or has it on the radar.
For every five hours of cable news, less than a minute is devoted to science; 46 percent of Americans reject evolution and think the Earth is less than 10,000 years old; the number of newspapers with weekly science sections has shrunken by two-thirds over the past several decades.
The public is polarized over climate change—an issue where political party affiliation determines one's view of reality—and in dangerous retreat from childhood vaccinations. Meanwhile, only 18 percent of Americans have even met a scientist to begin with; more than half can't name a living scientist role model.
The situation is pretty bad down there in the US (not sure how we're faring overall here in Canada, but I do know we're experiencing a fundamentalist uprising, and the asociated antiscientifc sentiments are rearing their ugly heads as well). Biased news media outlets pick up a story that conforms to their preconceived notions (say, Anthropogenic Global Warming is false) and gladly report it ad nauseum, hammering home the message for the viewers....all without bothering to either wait for things to come clear, or do some honest appraisal and fact checking.
And once the people hear it on tv...it's gospel. They don't think critically. They don't do the research themselves. Look at the whole 'climategate' thing. And, as the old saying goes, the lie spreads quickly and sticks, so even if the truth eventually gets out, it's too late (or something like that).
Another example was the supposedly suppressed EPA analysis of a climate change bill. Fox news was all over it, saying that the EPA did not include in its report a 98 page document generated within the agency that questioned the science of global warming.
Of course, if anyone had bothered to do any, you know, reporting, they would have found that the report was written by two non-climate scientists working for the NCEE, who relied heavily on the work of a leading figure of an industry front group to write their report, which was actually nothing of the sort. They regurgitated pseudoscientifc nonsense from the front group's website. But the damage had already been done, and the science of global warming was further undermined in the public's eye.
So, what the hell do we do? Do scientific establishments need to hire full time PR firms to counter this bullshit before it does the damage it so often does?
Do we revamp the education system so it puts more focus on critical examination and less on blind acceptance and submissiveness to authority?
WHAT? What can we do? Are people too far gone? Is everyone too busy with their ipods and such that they don't have time for the science anymore? Are we too accustomed to having our knowledge delivered to us in quick 3 minute soundbites? I mean, how many people actually refer to the actual science? I love asking deniers of AGW or Evolution,
How much of the actual research have you read, or even glanced over? Hell, how many abstracts have you read?The answer is usually none.
People deny decades, and even centuries worth of multidisciplinary scientifc evidence, and all they have to go on is some biased news stories, a couple of articles on the internet, and most importantly, selfish reasons for wanting to deny these things, religious, political, financical, or otherwise.
It's incredibly sad, and it threatens our actual futures. Yes, no hyperbole. It threatens our very future.