Unscientific America: how scientific illiteracy threatens our future

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Basic Books,
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In his famous 1959 Rede lecture at Cambridge University, the scientifically-trained novelist C.P. Snow described science and the humanities as "two cultures," separated by a "gulf of mutual incomprehension." And the humanists had all the cultural power—the low prestige of science, Snow argued, left Western leaders too little educated in scientific subjects that were increasingly central to world problems: the elementary physics behind nuclear weapons, for instance, or the basics of plant science needed to feed the world's growing population.

Now, Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum, a journalist-scientist team, offer an updated "two cultures" polemic for America in the 21st century. Just as in Snow's time, some of our gravest challenges—climate change, the energy crisis, national economic competitiveness—and gravest threats--global pandemics, nuclear proliferation—have fundamentally scientific underpinnings. Yet we still live in a culture that rarely takes science seriously or has it on the radar.

For every five hours of cable news, less than a minute is devoted to science; 46 percent of Americans reject evolution and think the Earth is less than 10,000 years old; the number of newspapers with weekly science sections has shrunken by two-thirds over the past several decades. The public is polarized over climate change—an issue where political party affiliation determines one's view of reality—and in dangerous retreat from childhood vaccinations. Meanwhile, only 18 percent of Americans have even met a scientist to begin with; more than half can't name a living scientist role model.

For this dismaying situation, Mooney and Kirshenbaum don't let anyone off the hook. They highlight the anti-intellectual tendencies of the American public (and particularly the politicians and journalists who are supposed to serve it), but also challenge the scientists themselves, who despite the best of intentions have often failed to communicate about their work effectively to a broad public—and so have ceded their critical place in the public sphere to religious and commercial propagandists.

A plea for enhanced scientific literacy, Unscientific America urges those who care about the place of science in our society to take unprecedented action. We must begin to train a small army of ambassadors who can translate science's message and make it relevant to the media, to politicians, and to the public in the broadest sense. An impassioned call to arms worthy of Snow's original manifesto, this book lays the groundwork for reintegrating science into the public discourse--before it's too late.

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Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID 1975f566-0b96-d02f-ac97-1693b7da64db
full_title unscientific america how scientific illiteracy threatens our future
author mooney chris
grouping_category book
lastUpdate 2017-08-14 05:04:37AM

Solr Details

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auth_author2 Kirshenbaum, Sheril.
author Mooney, Chris.
author-letter Mooney, Chris.
author2 Kirshenbaum, Sheril.
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author_additional Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum.
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oclc (OCoLC)213851106
owning_library_arlington Arlington Public Library, Aurora Hills, Central, Cherrydale, Columbia Pike, Connection Crystal City, Detention Center, Glencarlyn, Local History, Plaza, Shirlington, Westover
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physical xiii, 209 p. ; 25 cm.
popularity 4
primary_isbn 9780465013050
publishDate 2009
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publisher Basic Books,
rating 2.5
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record_details ils:.b13109479|Book|Books||English|Basic Books,|c2009.|xiii, 209 p. ; 25 cm.
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subject_facet Communication in science -- United States, Science -- Study and teaching -- United States, Science in popular culture -- United States
table_of_contents From a scientist and a writer -- Why Pluto matters ; Rethinking the problem of scientific illiteracy -- The rise and cultural decline of American science. From Sputnik to Sagan ; Third culture, or nerd culture? -- Different rifts, still divided. Science Escape 2008 ; Unpopular science ; Hollywood and the mad scientists ; Bruising their religion -- The future in our bones. The bloggers cannot save us ; Is our scientists learning? [sic] -- A new mission for American science.
target_audience Adult
target_audience_full Adult
title Unscientific America : how scientific illiteracy threatens our future
title_display Unscientific America : how scientific illiteracy threatens our future
title_full Unscientific America : how scientific illiteracy threatens our future / Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum
title_short Unscientific America :
title_sort unscientific america how scientific illiteracy threatens our future
title_sub how scientific illiteracy threatens our future