March 23, 2016, by Joe
Science and Society
I love science. Science embodies of one of mankind’s greatest qualities, curiosity. We are able to keep asking questions no matter how many answers we find. This is part of the reason why having a scientifically literate population is very important. Science is so much more than remembering facts, or calculating figures it is about asking questions, understanding why things are the way they are and thinking critically about new information. All too often throughout my life I’ve heard people question why they were taught molecular chemistry, plant biology or astrophysics in school, “how is this going to help me in the real world?” they exclaim. And I can understand why they feel this way. When a student is educated in a way that focuses more on marks than understanding and learning it is completely reasonable to be filled with apathy. However science is a core subject all around the world for a reason, and it is because the problem solving skills and the ability to reason objectively that are crucial and transferable skills that are key in the scientific method. They are also important for not just employment but also everyday life.
A classic example of science and its misuse is the various inflammatory pseudoscientific headlines seen in tabloid newspapers everyday e.g. “Can deodorant cause cancer?”- Daily Mail. The transparency of these articles may seem obvious to some and yet The Daily Mail is the 2nd most read newspaper in the country. This is surely evidence enough to show how scientifically illiterate the population has become. The problem is only exacerbated by short sighted curriculums that only focus on standardised tests. When students are only taught to remember and regurgitate facts it can negatively affect the way they treat new information. For example if they get told that global warming is a myth or that the world is 10,000 years old they are more inclined to believe what they are being told, especially when the information comes from some form of authority because they have not been taught the skills to question other people’s beliefs. These fallacies, often presented in a scientific manner, can have a serious effect on legislation and how we tackle problems, both as an individual and as a species.
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