Tag Archives: public education about science

ON THE PUBLIC DISREGARD FOR SCIENCE AND RESEARCH

 Science and Research have No Imprtance to Daily Life!

  Science  and  Research  Have  No  Imprtance  for  Daily  Life !!                          (dr-monsrs.net)

           

            Most scientists are aware that specialized investigations in science, whether performed by Nobel Laureates or by themselves, are totally uninteresting to all people in the general public.  The major causes of this unfortunate estrangement between ordinary people from science are: (1) the public is given a very inadequate education about science and research in schools and the media (see my recent post on “Most of Today’s Adult Education About Science is Worthless!” in the Education category), (2) researchers in all branches of science communicate with special terms and abstract concepts, none of which areunderstood by the public, (3) almost all people have never talked to a real live research scientist or visited a research laboratory, (4) the media presents scientific research as some sort of amusement, and as being conducted by brainy creatures wearing white lab coats and coming from another planet, and, (5) most people feel that science and research have no importance for their daily life.  All of these causal factors now have been active for a long time, and their negative effects are quite ingrained in modern society. 

 

            The unfortunate consequences of these 5 conditions are that the modern public: (1) has no realistic idea what science is and how research works, (2) has almost no comprehension of how science and research has advanced daily life, (3) is only aware of pseudo-science, but not of real science (eu-science), (4) does not see that science is people, and (5) pays no attention to science, except for watching some science circus show on the television.  The end result of these several and deficiencies is that ordinary adults today have no interest, no understanding, and no regard for science, research, and scientists. 

 

            Removing the causes will greatly decrease these unfortunate consequences, and will permit many adult non-scientists to develop a growing understanding and a natural curiosity about scientific research.  In particular, if the needed changes can be made, then: (1) people will begin to see scientists as dedicated fellow individuals whose work is important to everyone’s daily life and hopes for the future, and (2) the media will stop the incessant titillation of the public by showing scientific research as an amusement (e.g., “Who is today’s new star scientist?” and “What is the most amazing research discovery in science this week?”).  The media must present real science in action, in order to diminish the false view that science is an amusement.  The difficult removal of the common belief that “science doesn’t matter at all to me” will necessitate showing how current important practical problems are being examined in actual experimental studies by real scientists and engineers, and, presenting many real examples about how scientific research has originated interventions or improved solutions to modern practical problems that everyone is familiar with (e.g., anti-cancer therapies, detection and diagnosis of microbial infections, disease-resistant agricultural crops, high-tech batteries, new additives for gasoline, new types of light bulbs, paternity testing based on DNA, remediation of environmental pollution, etc.).  

 

            The recent development of crowdfunding (see my recent post on “Money Now is Everything in Scientific Research at Universities” in the Money & Grants category), where very numerous individuals in the public elect to each contribute a small donation to help support some research study in an area having their personal interest [e.g., 1-3], also has created a new mechanism for stimulating constructive personal interactions between the public and scientists.  In some of the research studies supported by crowdfunding, the donors (i.e., ordinary adults) are invited to actually join in with the scientists to work on that project.  In all such cases, these people will develop a much better personal understanding about how research actually is done (e.g., not all experiments work, the results obtained can be quite different from those expected, many experiments and a considerable period of time usually are required to reach a solid conclusion, there can be more than one interpretation of research data, etc.).  Secondary benefits are that these adults will later tell their friends about their experience in the crowdfunding project, encourage the interest of their children for science and research, and, become much more supportive of scientific research studies in general. 

 

            Some national science societies now feature special educational sessions at their annual meeting, open for attendance by the adult public, school children, school teachers, and the local media.  This is a great idea, but would be even better if these sessions are recorded and then made available for wider viewing at individual convenience on the internet.  Additional new efforts are needed in this very important area.  These should include: (1) better adult education about science and research; (2) more opportunities for adult non-scientists to meet and talk to real scientists; (3) more opportunities for both younger and older persons to personally participate in selected actual research projects; (4) more opportunities for the public to visit real research laboratories at universities, hospitals, government laboratories, and, industrial research and development centers; and, (5) elucidation on the internet and television about how truth is established by scientific research, the path whereby some research scientists have become especially famous and celebrated, and, exactly how exciting new technologies were developed by scientists and engineers.  All of these new educational efforts will produce changes resulting in greater public understanding about real science, how research is done, and, why advances in science and technology depend upon the new ideas and new concepts coming from creative and dedicated individual research workers. 

 

[1]  Stewart, M., 2013.  With funding becoming scarce, scientists are looking to the public for help.  ASBMB Today, 12:21-23.  Available on the internet at:                                          
http://www.asbmb.org/uploadedFiles/ASBMBToday/Content/Archive/ASBMBToday-2013-11.pdf .

[2]  Rice, H., 2013.  Crowdfunding, Overview.  The New York Academy of Sciences, Academy eBriefings, October 9, 2013.  Available on the internet at:                        http://www.nyas.org/publications/EBriefings/Detail.aspx?cid=82c4e4b4-f200-49b3-b333-c41e1e2f46aa .

[3]  Schmitt, D., 2013,  Crowdfunding science: could it work?  Higher Education Network, The Guardian, Nov. 11, 2013.   Available on the internet at:                                                       http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2013/nov/11/science-research-funding-crowdfunding-excellence .

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