From the interview of Neil Degrasse Tyson from 3 July 2009.
“If you are scientifically literate the world looks very different to you. Its not just a lot of mysterious things happening. There is a lot we understand out there. And that understanding empowers you to, first, not be taken advantage of by others who do understand it. And second there are issues that confront society that have science as their foundation. If you are scientifically illiterate, in a way, you are disenfranchising yourself from the democratic process, and you don’t even know it.”
I agree, and, as I have said before, when a society allows a scientific illiteracy to continue then the potential for abuse by those that manipulate those that are scientifically illiterate leaves the society vulnerable to making very bad choices.
They Might Be Giants creates great music and has moved into creating music aimed at kids, of any age, over the last few years. They are releasing a new Album and animated DVD Here Comes Science, is being released tomorrow. Their music is both enjoyable to listen to and educational, something that is often attempted but rarely done as successfully as they do.
The release include the following songs and videos:
1. Science Is Real
2. Meet the Elements
3. I Am a Paleontologist w/Danny Weinkauf
4. The Bloodmobile
5. Electric Car w/Robin Goldwasser
6. My Brother the Ape
7. What Is a Shooting Star?
8. How Many Planets?
9. Why Does the Sun Shine? Continue reading →
This is a great webcast on E.O Wilson‘s career studying ants and animal behavior from NOVA.
Not only is the scientific knowledge very interesting it again shows that challenging conventional wisdom, while part of the scientific method, does not mean it is an easy process for those pioneers. From his web site:
In 1971 Wilson published his second major synthesis, The Insect Societies, which formulated the existing knowledge of the behavior of ants, social bees, social wasps, and termites, on a foundation of population biology. In it he introduced the concept of a new discipline of sociobiology, the systematic study of the biological basis of social behavior in all kinds of organisms. In 1975 he published Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, which extended the subject to vertebrates and united it more closely to evolutionary biology. The foundational discoveries of sociobiology are generally recognized to be the analysis of animal communication and division of labor, in which Wilson played a principal role, and the genetic theory of the origin of social behavior, which he helped to promote and apply in his 1971 and 1975 syntheses. Sociobiology: The New Synthesis was later ranked in a poll of the officers and fellows of the international Animal Behaviour Society as the most important book on animal behavior of all time, and is regarded today as the founding text of sociobiology and its offshoot, evolutionary psychology.
When Americans were asked in 2005 about their views on the credibility of information sources about biotechnology, a clear hierarchy of trust emerged starting at the top with scientific journals (almost 60% of respondents said they trusted journals as credible information ), followed by university scientists who are funded by government (50%), public television (50%), government scientists (40%), the WHO (40%), university scientists funded by industry (35%), biotechnology company scientists (30%), religious leaders (20%), TV networks (18%), biotechnology executives (15%), print media (15%), and political leaders (10%)
The data is from a survey by NSF in 2005. I predict PBS’ influence will grow as they provide valuable, open access, content online (the way the public will get most of their news).
All shows of the PBS TV show, Scientific American Frontiers are available online. The shows feature Alan Alda exploring a wide range of scientific ideas. Specific information for teachers if provided for each show. Shows include:
Going Deep – “In 1977, scientists aboard Alvin were exploring the Galapagos Rift in the Pacific Ocean when they made one of the most important discoveries in modern biology. Hydrothermal vents are underwater volcanoes erupting magma-heated, mineral-rich water out of cracks on the seafloor thousands of feet beneath the surface. Despite the enormous pressure and total darkness, the vents were found to support an astonishing array of animal life.”