American Renaisscience: Mistrust In Science Is Not Because Why You Think It Is

Today, my wife and almost five-year-old left for a well-deserved vacation and by extension I’m on vacation until they return. So, what did I do first after they left? I watched a great video that I had in my ‘Watch Later’ list. It was a back-and-forth between funnyman Stephen Colbert and Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson. Dr. Tyson raised a great and insightful point about the state of science and the lack of science literacy in America.

As an adjunct professor in health science research, my first priority is to increase the general science literacy of my students so they can make more knowledgable decisions based upon logic and not based upon the opinions of others. One of the first lectures I give elaborates on what exactly science is and is not. Science is not magic. In fact, science is the opposite of magic. Unfortunately, most of the breakthroughs and discoveries are not easily or not well communicated to the public. This gap in knowledge between the scientists and the public leads to a misunderstanding of what the scientists are actually doing. When the new knowledge goes over the heads of the people it makes science a mystery. Thus, to most of the general public, science is not just a mystery, it might as well be magical.

This gap between the truth about science and the perception of science creates a sense of mistrust. We need to do better.

6 Replies to “American Renaisscience: Mistrust In Science Is Not Because Why You Think It Is”

  1. Excellent post! The information gap between scientists and the public is, indeed, profound. A major problem is that scientists are simply not taught to communicate to lay audiences as part of their training–understandable because their curriculum is so incredibly demanding already. However, one hopes that room in that curriculum can be found for communication training, which would benefit researchers not only in reaching the general public, but also their colleagues, donors, legislators, institutional leaders, and students.

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