Can STEM Education Fight Scientific Illiteracy?
Find out what are the most important lessons we can teach today's STEM students to prepare them to become science and information literate.
Educators have a unique role and responsibility in encouraging the next generation of young scientists, technology experts, engineers, and mathematicians – the STEM students who can help solve today's most pressing challenges.
However, there are strong prevailing headwinds impeding our progress at present.
Distrust of scientific experts has become a persistent phenomenon across the US in recent years, as many communities' negative views and distrust of science and technology have hardened into a heartfelt political identity.
Kristin Lunz Trujillo, a postdoctoral researcher at Northeastern University and Harvard University, recently wrote a paper in Political Behavior titled Rural Identity as a Contributing Factor to Anti-Intellectualism in the U.S. in which she attempts to correlate an anti-science outlook with those who maintain a strong identity as being from a "rural" area.
Lunz Trujillo argues that "rural identifiers"
Distrust in science experts and technology is nothing new – we only have to look back at the Luddite Movement in the early 1800s, where traditional British craft workers producing textile goods by hand rose up to destroy factory knitting machines that threatened to undermine their livelihoods through advances in automation.
But what are the roots of today's skepticism and outright resentment of expert opinions?
Some might point to the spectacular intelligence failure of the George W. Bush administration, which led us into the Iraq War based on the mistaken conclusion that the country harbored "weapons of mass destruction"
Others, such as writer Jonathan Haidt, whose recent article in the Atlantic, "Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid," argues that the recent pervasive rise of social media has helped fuel the circulation of ever higher levels of damaging misinformation and conspiracy theories that have seriously undermined the intellectual quality and honesty of American social discourse.
Can We Live Long And Prosper In A World Without Experts? Scientific Illiteracy And Antipathy Toward Technology Can Reduce Future Economic Growth And Undermine Societal Health And Wellbeing
The growing incidence of scientific illiteracy and widespread distrust of science and technology experts is not without its costs to our society's economic and public health.