We're in trouble

tivol at tethys.ph.albany.edu tivol at tethys.ph.albany.edu
Wed Jun 29 13:55:01 EST 1994


Przemko asks whether we've seen good scientists/science in the movies, and
Dan Zabetakis comments on the understanding of science by scientists & others
I can point out good scientists (almost to the complete exclusion of bad
ones) in the Star Trek movies--this was Gene Rodenberry's [sp?] intent.  The
science is good in the moral sense if not in the technical sense, but, given
the requisite suspension of disbelief, it's technically consistent for the
most part, imho.
The public is certainly capable of understanding the process of science, if
not the details.  The education of the public and Congress can procede on the
basis that it is important to teach the attitudes and methods of science.
As to the assertion that scientists know little of science outside of their
field, that generalization may often be true--much to the detriment of pro-
gress--but, as Tom Lauretson, a professor of mine said, "It is not important
to know something, as long as you know where to look it up."  The general
principles of all the sciences are accessible to any scientist and to many of
the non-scientist public.  If we concentrate on educating everyone to an un-
derstanding of the general principles and the techniques of literature
searches, the public can know anything each of them thinks is important
enough, and failure to become knowledgable will come from laziness, about
which we can do nothing.  A particular gratifying example came up when Cam-
bridge MA decided what to do about gene-splicing research.  In spite of the
vocal presence of Jeremy Rifkin and others on one side, and the dire warnings
of scientists about the adverse consequences of *any* regulation on the other
side (at least the media, including Science, left that impression), the city
government came to the rational decision to allow research within the NIH
guidelines.

					Yours,

					Bill Tivol



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