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Friday, 30 March 2012

the new dark ages (part 2)

"High School Science Class, c. 1889" from: Images of Woburn

"[...] in 1974, people who identified as conservatives were among the most confident in science as an institution, with liberals trailing slightly behind, and moderates bringing up the rear. Liberals have remained fairly steady in their opinion of the scientific community over the interim, while conservative trust in science has plummeted.
     Interestingly, the most educated conservatives have led that charge. Conservatives with college degrees began distrusting science earlier and more forcefully than other conservatives, upending assumptions that less educated people on the whole are more distrustful of science.
     [University of North Carolina postdoctoral fellow Gordon] Gauchat attributes the changes to two forces: Both science and conservatives have changed a lot in 40 years. In the post-WWII period, research was largely wedded to the Defense Department and NASA—think the space race and the development of the atomic bomb. Now the scientific institution 'has come out from behind those institutions and been its own cultural force.' That has meant it is increasingly viewed as a catalyst of government regulation, as in the failed Democratic proposal to institute cap-and-trade as a way to reduce carbon emissions and stave off climate change."
— Liz Goodwin, Yahoo

"American students finish near dead last among developed countries in math and science testing, and they’re turned off at an early age. Foreign students now earn six out of every 10 engineering doctorates at U.S. universities. Just one-third of U.S. undergraduates earn a degree in science and engineering, while nearly two-thirds of Chinese and Japanese students do so.
     A recent report on U.S. economic prospects in the 21st century, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, concluded that leadership in scientific endeavors was crucial to success. By extension, the report found it was necessary to 'vastly improve' America’s talent pool through science, math and technology education."
— Eric Berger, Houston Chronicle

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