Scientific Dumbing Down in America

North County Times, Sunday, September 4, 2005: “Jon D. Miller, a political scientist who directs the Center for Biomedical Communications at the medical school,studies how much Americans know about science and what they think about it.” He said that while scientific literacy doubled during the last 20 years, only 20-25% of Americans are ‘scientifically savvy and alert.” He said that most Americans “don’t have a clue.”

The most important thing he had to say cuts to the core of academics today: “At a time when science permeates debates on everything from global warming to stem cell research, people’s inability to understand basic scientific concepts undermines their ability to take part in the democratic process.”

It seems that American adults in general do not understand what molecules are; fewer than a third can identify DNA as a key to heredity; only about 10% know what radiation is; and 20% of adult Americans think the sun revolves around the Earth (an idea science abandoned in the 17th century).

Today he forms questionnaires to ask questions about DNA in the cell because “if you don’t know what a cell is, you can’t make sense of stem cell research.”

The present American government adminstration keeps entering scientific dialogue with scientists without a clue about scientific knowledge. It’s like fighting a battle of wits with unarmed men. Dubya has made it acceptable to be ignorant or stupid. What a great role model for our children.