Jones, Brian Dr bjones at AGRIC.WA.GOV.AU
Thu Aug 24 09:44:26 CDT 2000

John Grehan wrote:
In relation to my comments about there already being confusion about science
and evolution exploited by Creationists in the US I noticed reference to a
1999 NSF survey concluding that while US Americans have a high confidence
and interest in science and technology, their understanding of basic
scientific facts and principles remains quite low. There was a poor
understanding of some common basic scientific terms including moleculres,
Internet, and DNA. Only 21% were able to explain what it means to study
something scientifically. Its this latter point that relates to my inference
that this is really a critical problem behind the evolution/creation issue
in the US (other political and religeous considerations aside).
The trouble with such reports is the lack of comparison with other
The problem is a universal one.  The Wellington Branch of the Royal Society
of New Zealand was formed in the 1850's by laymen, not "scientists" - people
like the Governor of the Colony and the archbishop were founding members
along with the key businessmen of the day - and they were interested and
very knowledgeable in all branches of science.  Now we have difficulty
getting *anyone* to join a "general science" society - even scientists!

Look at the growth of "new age" magic, aromatheropy, crystal gazing and
soothsaying in popular magazines, on TV, movies  (Buffy; vampires,
witchcraft)(all of which is not "new"!).  These are appealing to "educated"
middle class western culture and finding a ready market.  It pays well, and
all these people vote.  In that environment what chance has "science"?  It
has no more - or less credibility than all the other belief systems.

How many of you are members of Universities with non-science departments
that teach this alternative stuff?  Don't then complain when the punters out
there believe it!

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