Why It’s So Hard for Americans to Talk About Science
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Talking about science is a lot harder than it should be. We talk all the time about things we don’t fully understand: the polar vortex, how footballs can get underinflated during games, why the Kardashians still get so much attention. We’re not experts in these areas, but we’re happy to weigh in with theories and opinions. But when it comes to scientific topics, both scientists and lay people hide behind the excuse that the general public in this country simply doesn’t have the education to process such complex information.
This is leading to real problems. When we don’t understand the point of scientific experiments, we don’t tell our legislators to keep funding those projects. When we don’t understand the science behind a vaccine, we wind up with a dangerous measles outbreak because too many people decided not to get their kids immunized. When we don’t understand the science behind genetically modified food, we push to ban it–even when it may be the most promising path to feeding millions of hungry people around the world.