Unscientific America

Unscientific America

How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future

Book - 2009
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Baker & Taylor
Discusses the decline in interest and knowledge of science in the United States, examining causes such as a weak education system and religious conservatism that affect the importance of science in America.

Perseus Publishing
An impassioned polemic about the dangers of America’s scientific illiteracy

In his famous 1959 Rede lecture at Cambridge University, the scientifically-trained novelist C.P. Snow described science and the humanities as "two cultures," separated by a "gulf of mutual incomprehension." And the humanists had all the cultural power—the low prestige of science, Snow argued, left Western leaders too little educated in scientific subjects that were increasingly central to world problems: the elementary physics behind nuclear weapons, for instance, or the basics of plant science needed to feed the world's growing population.

Now, Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum, a journalist-scientist team, offer an updated "two cultures" polemic for America in the 21st century. Just as in Snow's time, some of our gravest challenges—climate change, the energy crisis, national economic competitiveness—and gravest threats--global pandemics, nuclear proliferation—have fundamentally scientific underpinnings. Yet we still live in a culture that rarely takes science seriously or has it on the radar.

For every five hours of cable news, less than a minute is devoted to science; 46 percent of Americans reject evolution and think the Earth is less than 10,000 years old; the number of newspapers with weekly science sections has shrunken by two-thirds over the past several decades. The public is polarized over climate change—an issue where political party affiliation determines one's view of reality—and in dangerous retreat from childhood vaccinations. Meanwhile, only 18 percent of Americans have even met a scientist to begin with; more than half can't name a living scientist role model.

For this dismaying situation, Mooney and Kirshenbaum don't let anyone off the hook. They highlight the anti-intellectual tendencies of the American public (and particularly the politicians and journalists who are supposed to serve it), but also challenge the scientists themselves, who despite the best of intentions have often failed to communicate about their work effectively to a broad public—and so have ceded their critical place in the public sphere to religious and commercial propagandists.

A plea for enhanced scientific literacy, Unscientific America urges those who care about the place of science in our society to take unprecedented action. We must begin to train a small army of ambassadors who can translate science's message and make it relevant to the media, to politicians, and to the public in the broadest sense. An impassioned call to arms worthy of Snow's original manifesto, this book lays the groundwork for reintegrating science into the public discourse--before it's too late.

Blackwell North Amer
The disconnect between the scientific community and mainstream American society grows steadily wider. In Unscientific America, journalist Chris Mooney and scientist Sheril Kirshenbaum explain how religious ideologues, a weak education system, science-phobic politicians, and the corporate media have all collaborated to create this dangerous state of affairs - and how hyperspecialized scientists have thus far failed to counter it.

Publisher: New York : Basic Books, [2009]
Copyright Date: ©2009
ISBN: 9780465013050
Branch Call Number: 509.73 MOONE
Additional Contributors: Kirshenbaum, Sheril


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Nov 28, 2016

Thought I'd get an unbiased critique of science in America and our lack of the general population being clueless. Instead it was a political view (mostly left) about one party being an enemy of science. Ever think that some of the government paid scientists are not being truthful/completely in the open about some of their projects? I'm saying it has to be fair when you critique an issue. This one isn't by a long ways. Did read recently (2016) that 65% of the college graduates never have taken an "upper division" science or math class....that tells you a lot right there.


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