I’ve been thinking a lot about people in the world who go through life with little to no science education, and I feel really, really bad for them. I feel bad for the mother of the child with a cleft lip who is convinced that the child was born that way because she was out of the house during a solar eclipse. Imagine the kind of suffering she must be living through to think that she is responsible for something that was pretty much out of her control. All it takes is a little science for her to learn and understand that these genetic things happen, and that — except for smoking and some other drugs — there is not much someone can do to avoid them.
I also feel bad for the many, many women who have been ostracized or even killed by their communities because of claims of witchcraft. It still goes on today, and an understanding that there is no such thing as magic would do wonders for people that still fear “witches.” Those same communities would save money and resources spent of magic potions and “spells” to heal disease or bring about wealth. The best chance of amassing wealth comes with hard work, saving, and being judicious on what money you spend and what lifestyle you live. There’s science in that, you know?
Sadly, we still live in a world where we hold on to ideas and traditions long disclaimed by science. Even with planes up in the air and rovers over on Mars, we still have this deep-seeded lack of science in our society, even here in the United States, and some even think this is a good thing! How can a child who never learned the science of evolution rid themselves of thoughts like racism or cultural superiority? Can a child who never learns chemistry, even the most basic concepts of it, be expected to understand that the dose makes the poison when it comes to preservatives and adjuvants in vaccines? Show me someone who never grasped biology, and I’ll show you someone who believes in Big Foot, the Chupacabra, or even that dinosaurs walked the earth with humans.
It’s the people with no science and the people who try to swindle them that worry me and anger me, respectively. If people understood Avogadro’s number, they wouldn’t waste their money on homeopathy. If the swindler’s couldn’t convince people that magnets help in balance and agility, a whole industry of bracelets would have never taken off the ground. Think of the money saved and lives changed if they went with what works instead of some delusional belief!
What can we do? Well, we can start by making sure our own children are well-versed in the sciences. Then we make sure that their schools have acceptable science curricula. And then we make sure that the other schools in our town have science curricula… And so on and so forth. Don’t just stay quiet and think it’s disrespectful to stand up and object to teaching creationism, especially six-day creationism, in a biology class. There’s nothing disrespectful in asking teachers to teach the truth and to leave philosophy and religion to classes on those topics. There is no rational advantage to teaching the controversy.
There is no advantage to having people with no science.