What does a technologically advanced society require to succeed? I would say that support to Science and Technology (S&T) and a reasonable knowledge of them both are necessary. Americans say they are enthusiastic about science, meaning they like to visit a zoo, aquarium or similar from time to time. However they manifest a fundamental lack of basic scientific knowledge.
This is what a new study by the National Science Foundation shows. The NSF Science and Engineering Indicators gauge U.S. scientific literacy every year. In the most recent survey, 2,200 people were asked 10 questions about physical and biological sciences. Data shows that many Americans have difficulty answering relatively simple knowledge questions. The most shocking example is that 1 in 4 don’t Know Earth orbits the Sun. Oh, poor Galileo!
Also, while Americans say they are interested in S&T and want to fund S&T, other issues generate greater interest and elicit more support for government funding. Majorities consistently say that they believe health, “alternative energy,” and environmental improvement and protection receive too little funding. In contrast, only about 4 in 10 Americans said the government was spending “too little on research.” Comparisons with other countries are not reassuring either. Multinational surveys identify several countries where residents have more knowledge or are more supportive of S&T in specific areas than Americans.
Thinking about it, Science and Religion seem to be at polar opposites, but people’s attitudes toward them are quite the same. People say they are religious but they do not put in practice what they preach (ask the Vatican). People say Science is great but they don’t understand anything about it and they would not put their money where their mouth is. This might help explain the fact that religion is still given the same standing as science. Absurd but consistent with facts.
Should we reconsider what the proper foundations for an “advanced” society are?