[Coral-List] The Age of Denial
sealab at earthlink.net
Fri Aug 23 08:52:24 EDT 2013
Just thought that excerpts from an op-ed piece by Adam Frank, a professor of
physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, were especially
poignant and fitting for all listers to consider.
What do I tell my students? From one end of their educational trajectory to
the other, our society told these kids science was important. How confusing
is it for them now, when scientists receive death threats for simply doing
honest research on our planet's climate history?
We face many daunting challenges as a society, and they won't all be solved
with more science and math education. But what has been lost is an
understanding that science's open-ended, evidence-based processes - rather
than just it's results - are essential to meeting those challenges.
My students . . . must become fierce champions of science in the
marketplace of ideas.
During my undergraduate studies I was shocked at the low opinion some of my
professors had of the astronomer Carl Sagan. For me his efforts to
popularize science were an inspiration, but for them such "outreach" was a
diversion. That view makes no sense today.
The enthusiasm and generous spirit that Mr. Sagan used to advocate for
science now must inspire us all. Behind the giant particle accelerators and
space observatories, science is a way of behaving in the world. It is,
simply put, a tradition. And as we know from history's darkest moments, even
the most enlightened traditions can be broken and lost. Perhaps that is the
most important lesson all lifelong students of science must learn now.
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