As scientists become increasingly aware of the depth of the culture gap and knowledge gap between science and the public, many are trying to get the word out. One goal is to try to convey a message that science is important to all of us. Another is to educate, provide information about particular fields of science. Books written by scientists are filling shelves, both real and electronic. Here’s a selection:
The Discovery Channel and other channels devoted to nature and science are popular. Even some wonderful movies have made it big.
The public finds science more important than ever. Why is there a culture gap? What can we do about it? Do scientists have the responsibility for closing the gap? Can it be closed?
There are more than a million scientists employed in the US, pursuing careers as college/university professors, working in the oil/gas industries, in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, for government agencies…(the list is pretty long!). Yet, out of 130 million or so employed adults in the US, that’s not a huge percentage. To put this number in perspective, though, there are a little more than a million lawyers registered with the American Bar Association, and close to a million board-certified physicians. We feel a lot more familiar with what being a doctor is all about. Even a lawyer. Why the misconceptions about scientists?
There’s a pretty big gap in the public understanding of medicine and medical practices, too. We trust physicians with our very lives, even when we do not fully comprehend our own medical situation. Why then do we not trust scientists when they tell us that climate change is not only a reality, but that we are responsible for it? Why then do we distrust scientists when they tell us that all life is and has evolved? Why are these and other “controversial” scientific findings rejected or distrusted?
Why do so many of us say, “I’m not a “science” person. It’s all mumbo-jumbo to me”? Do we say this when we meet with a divorce lawyer or when we refinance our home mortgage? Do we say this when we see our child’s doctor about a health condition?
What happens when we take biology on the road?
This is a short post to get you thinking. The next post will try to tackle why there is a science-culture gap. Gather your own ideas, comment and join me next week!