Jones, Brian Dr bjones at AGRIC.WA.GOV.AU
Thu Aug 24 10:32:14 CDT 2000

Sorry about the previous post - the server stripped the fancy formatting
Here it is again.

<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
<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

To which I relpied:
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!

-       And there should have been an autosignature - thus:

Dr Brian Jones
Senior  Fish Pathologist, Fisheries WA, Adjunct Professor, Muresk Institute
C/o Animal Health Labs, 3 Baron-Hay Court, South Perth WA 6151, AUSTRALIA
phone +61-8-9368-3649 fax +61-8-9474-1881

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