America's Science Problem
"America's Science Problem" is the title of an article in the November 2012 issue of Scientific American. It is a surprisingly provocative look at the American political parties and their attitude towards making decisions based on facts. It is at once alarming and funny. Funny, because it is true. The abstract and lead paragraph are copied below.
The entire article can be purchased at http://www.sciamdigital.com/index.cfm?fa=Products.ViewIssuePreview&ARTICLEID_CHAR=64F06545-237D-9F22-E8096F93BCE27AA6 but the magazine is full of great articles this month.
Read it and think.
A large number of major party contenders for political office this year took antiscience positions against evolution, human-induced climate change, vaccines, stem cell research, and more.
Such positions are surprising because the economy is such a big factor in this election, and half the economic growth since World War II can be traced to innovations in science and technology.
Partisans at both ends of the political spectrum have been guilty of science denialism. But the Republican version is particularly dangerous because it attacks the validity of science itself.
U.S. voters must push candidates and elected officials to express their views on the major science questions facing the nation or risk losing out to those countries with reality-based policies.
It is hard to know exactly when it became acceptable for u.s. politicians to be antiscience. For some two centuries science was a preeminent force in American politics, and scientific innovation has been the leading driver of U.S. economic growth since World War II. Kids in the 1960s gathered in school cafeterias to watch moon launches and landings on televisions wheeled in on carts. Breakthroughs in the 1970s and 1980s sparked the computer revolution and a new information economy. Advances in biology, based on evolutionary theory, created the biotech industry. New research in genetics is poised to transform the understanding of disease and the practice of medicine, agriculture and other fields.