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Educating The Public About Science

Matt Jones jonesmat at ohsu.edu
Fri Jun 2 11:28:19 EST 1995

In article <3qksav$1v1 at fiona.umsmed.edu> Ian A. Paul,
iapaul at fiona.umsmed.edu writes:
><snip> it is unsurprising that the public 
>perception of science is one of a field of study in which most of the 
>big questions are already conclusively answered, leaving little at 
>present but a group of pedants arguing over how many angels can dance on 
>the head of a pin.

In this week's issue of Science (v. 268, p. 1139), there's an
<advertisment> sponsored by the Board of Directors of AAAS (American
Association for the Advancement of Science). It is a reprint of a letter
published in the Washington Post, outlining the important contributions
of modern science to our lifestyle, and underscoring the need for
continued public and private support for basic research. In my opinion,
it is well written and raises some interesting points. It's signed by the
exutive officers of 16 major science/technology companies. I encourage
everybody to have a look at it. 

However, reprinting this article in Science seems sort of like *preaching
to the choir*, in that most readers of Science probably already agree
with the sentiments set forth in the letter. Despite Mr. Laudrup's
disturbing comments in another thread (Urgent News Regarding Scientific
Funding) to the effect that scientists are already overfunded and
wasteful, most of us probably think that while this may be true of some
scientists, wholesale cuts in science spending will do a lot more harm
than good. In my opinion, this letter would be even more effective if
circulated in non-science magazines or news papers. I applaud the
Washington Post for printing it, and encourage AAAS and the authors of
the letter to invest the money needed to achieve a higher circulation for
these ideas. 

-Matt Jones

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