I was rather shocked today to see this in my Scientific American newsfeed: Science and Archaeopteryx Overcome Creationism in South Korea, by Soo Bin Park (reprinted from a Nature publication). I had no clue classroom rejection of evolution in favor of creationism is a world-wide phenomenon! I figured it was something that stubborn ultra-Christians clung to only in the US. I suppose that’s just my Americentric mind at work again. I wonder how wide-spread this problem is?
This issue reminds me of a forum conversation that’s been going on at my favorite book-social-network LibraryThing. We’ve been discussing the movement of some parents to decline immunization for their children–for fear of unproven (and unlikely) threats like the autism-due-to-vaccination scare. These parents fail to appreciate the pain and suffering and endless fear of their parents’ parents during epidemics such as for polio in the early 20th century. Out of sight, out of mind, as it were! By not vaccinating their children, these people are not only risking the health of their own children, they’re risking the health of others’ children AND the health of our already-fragile medical system here in the US.
Furthermore, there is a discouraging trend in the US for ultra-conservatives to take an anti-science stance. They want our kids to be world leaders in the classroom, but they also want them to be taught that evolution and global warming are “just theories” for which there is scanty evidence. Furthermore, they often approve of huge funding cuts for scientific research. Although I’ve posted a couple of times about studies where I asked “really? my tax dollars paid for that?!” I think funding for scientific research is an investment that the US needs to make if we want to continue as a world power. If we don’t stoke the fire, it’s going to die. I have personally witnessed the changes that have occurred in academia due to the funding lapses during the Bush administration, and the temporary relief that the Obama administration provided. Unfortunately, this relief came too late and academic (rather than for-profit) scientific research is on the decline. It’s harder and harder for professors to get tenure, so more and more of them enter “industry,” where the “evil” drug companies take over their souls. 😉
I don’t know what the right solution is, but we mustn’t let academic science research go on a decline. We must nip the anti-science movement in the bud before it impacts our global position (and the quality of our health system) irrevocably.
I am also reminded of this article in the Scientific American newsfeed: Obama and Romney Tackle 14 Top Science Questions. Romney isn’t as supportive of science as I’d wish, but at least he’s not leaning too far in the anti-science direction. There’s a (very small) blessing. I DID get a chuckle about how Romney made almost all of his answers about how Obama is a failure, whereas Obama actually focused on the questions at hand.