Richard Feynman defined science as “A way of trying not to fool yourself.” Funny, but true. Feynman was trying to get across the idea that science is our best way of understanding the natural world. For instance, until the mid-1800's, people believed disease was caused by all manner of things—demons, witches, punishment for sinful behavior. Now, we understand that disease is caused by germs, allowing effective prevention of illness. Moreover, because we understand evolution, vaccines have been developed, effectively wiping out many diseases that used to plague society.
Elected Officials Need Science, Too!
Because elected officials determine our children's curricula, they need to have a solid science education. Not understanding science can keep you from doing your job well in some surprising situations. For instance, on the Texas State Board of Education there are seven members whose lack of scientific understanding stands to put our children's science education at risk. The members who support the notion that theories have “strengths and weaknesses” have a poor grasp of science. How do we know this? Because if they understood science they’d know that theories are born when a substantial number of scientific hypotheses all support the same conclusion. This means that theories cannot be weak or limited. Theories simply are what they are. The SBOE members who insist that Theories have “weaknesses,”… well, they seem to be fooling themselves. But don’t let them fool you.
But that's not all that understanding science has given us. Through scientific observation and experimentation, we have everything from anesthesia to zeppelins.
What are the sorts of things that can happen if you don’t understand science?
Understanding how science works helps us with everyday decisions:
These questions can be answered by anyone with a sound science background.
You might be thinking to yourself, “But my child doesn't want to be a scientist…” Read on…
Most of us don't know what we want to be when we grow up until we're halfway there. We owe it to our children to give them the best possible start by providing them with the best education available. If our children get a sound science education and then decide to dedicate their life to non-scientific endeavors, they will be no worse off for it. But if we fail to provide them with a strong scientific background, our children might find themselves being passed over for better qualified peers if they do decide that a career in the sciences is what they wish to pursue. Are you prepared to curtail the opportunities your children will have available to them in their life at this early stage?
Furthermore, understanding science isn't required only of “scientists.” Engineers, teachers, doctors, and business people alike need a firm underpinning in science to be successful. Products of science need to be produced, distributed, sold and maintained. Scientifically astute personnel in each of these jobs are key to efficient distribution of scientific products to the public. As a consumer, each of us needs ever more scientific acumen to function effectively in the 21st century.
Even if your child chooses a completely science-free career path, there are benefits to understanding science and evolution:
“A person who thinks critically…
”…can ask appropriate questions, gather relevant information, efficiently and creatively sort through this information, reason logically from this information, and come to reliable and trustworthy conclusions about the world that enable one to live and act successfully in it.” —Steven D. Schafersman, President, Texas Citizens for Science
A foundation for success
“Why is a good science education so important for every child, not just for those who may be headed toward a scientific or technical career? Because science is everywhere, and understanding how it’s a part of our daily lives can give students a great foundation for success in life.”
“Children are naturally curious…
…Science education feeds that curiosity and provides students with valuable concepts, life skills, and career options. Science helps give kids a greater appreciation for the world and its inhabitants, a healthy dose of skepticism, strong problem-solving skills, and research know-how.”
Evolution and Biodiversity:
An understanding of evolution is crucial to appreciating the implications of the mass extinction that is currently happening at our hands. Recovery will take millions or even tens of millions of years. That’s more time than most of us can wrap our heads around.
When one truly appreciates the time required for the current flora and fauna to have evolved, it’s easy to see why preservation of our earth’s treasure of living creatures is so important. The living things around us are a treasure trove of pharmaceuticals and engineering wonders that have and will continue to yield answers to some of our biggest problems.
Understanding science is patriotic! Another surprising way that a sound science education can improve people’s lives is when they step into the voting booth or write letters to their elected officials. Issues that relate to science abound and are often extremely crucial. To name a few…
What greater gift could we give our children than the power of making the very best decisions for their own futures?