Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Don't Know Much Biology

This attitude has enormous political—and educational—implications. What happens if scientific truth conflicts with a politician's "spiritual truth"? This is not a theoretical problem, but a real one, as we see in debates about stem-cell research, abortion, genetic engineering, and global warming. Ignorance about evolution may be widespread, but it's not nearly as dangerous as dogmatic certainty about the real world based on faith alone.
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I don't know whether to attribute the show of hands to the candidates' ignorance of the mountain of evidence for evolution, or to a cynical desire to pander to a public that largely rejects evolution (more than half of Americans do).  But I do know that it means that our country is in trouble.  As science becomes more and more important in dealing with the world's problems, Americans are falling farther and farther behind in scientific literacy.  Among citizens of industrialized nations, Americans rank near the bottom in their understanding of math and science.  Over half of all Americans don't know that the Earth orbits the Sun once a year, and nearly half think that humans once lived, Flintstone-like, alongside dinosaurs. 
Senator Brownback, along with his two dissenting colleagues, really should be forced to answer a rather more embarrassing question: who is responsible for their being so misinformed?
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