9 July 2014
Posted by Dan Satterfield
I spotted this online today, and believe me it is being shared far and wide in science circles.
A statement like this from a 5th grader would be alarming, but from someone (State Senator Brandon Smith) who makes laws is downright frightening. What is more frightening is that the science literacy of his constituency is so low, he’ll likely be easily re elected. In case there are any doubts I looked up the weather on Mars today. We can do that thanks to a set of meteorological instruments aboard NASA’s Curiosity Rover.
The fact that he owns a coal mine might have something to do with this. As
Sebastian Unger Upton Sinclair (author of the Jungle) said, “It’s nearly impossible to convince some of anything, if their paycheck depends on it being otherwise”. Your grade school should cancel your diploma Senator. Your voters should fire you.
What is truly horrifying, is that this level of scientific ignorance is more common than not – at all levels of government. From the politicians who make the laws, to the heads of the regulatory agencies who enforce them, the lack of understanding and education is dangerously high.
There are terrible consequences for trying to manage what you do not understand. We the public will pay the price.
While I agree with you Dan, you’ve made three errors of your own here that undermine your argument. The quote you included is from Upton Sinclair, not Sebastian Unger; it’s not from Sinclair’s book The Jungle, but from his political campaigning (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Upton_Sinclair); and the correct quote is “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
Yikes! You are right of course and for the life of me I do not know why I wrote it that way. I’ve used that quote by Sinclair a dozen times!
Error is fixed by the way.
We should have all federal government officials to have to pass an exam demonstrating basic science literacy, among other things. No one is allowed to run for office if they don’t have a basic understanding of the universe. These results are then publically available, and posted at the voting booths, so you know how each candidate scored.
Of course, if this were to actually happen, people would just try to rig the test to support their own views… c’est la vie.