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Fwd = On the chasm between scientists and non-scientists

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  • Frits Westra
    Forwarded by: fwestra@hetnet.nl URL: http://www.scienceweek.com/arch1.htm Original Date: Sat, 3 Mar 2001 14:48:05 +0100 (CET)
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 4, 2001
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      Forwarded by: fwestra@...
      URL: http://www.scienceweek.com/arch1.htm
      Original Date: Sat, 3 Mar 2001 14:48:05 +0100 (CET)

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      In an essay in the journal *Science* on the gap between scientist
      and non-scientist, the science journalist Takashi Tachibana makes
      the following points: 1) In 1959 C.P. Snow presented the idea
      that the chasm between scientists and literary intellectuals was
      so vast that they could not communicate with each other. After
      nearly 40 years, the situation has only grown worse. 2) The
      current level of basic scientific knowledge is so low that it is
      difficult to interest even the brightest layman or non-science
      student in what modern science is doing. The chasm between
      scientist and non-scientist has widened to become a gulf. 3) The
      impact of the 20th century revolutions in physics and molecular
      biology has been profound: the Universe looks different, Life is
      different. But this impact has not been as thorough as it might
      have been, because while those with a more comprehensive
      scientific education can recognize that something important has
      happened, the great majority of people do not even realize that a
      fundamental shift has occurred. 4) Most non-scientists who like
      to think of themselves as knowledgeable about modern science
      really know only about technologies -- and specifically those
      technologies considered likely to bring economic profits in the
      short term. This is also the mind-set of most government
      officials and lawmakers who consider themselves sympathetic to
      science and technology budget requests. Science for homo
      economicus and homo faber is flourishing, while science for Homo
      sapiens is diminishing. 5) We may one day wake up to find
      barbarians at the gate in the form of an upsurge in "new" science
      -- that is, not science at all -- promoted by one or the other
      fundamentalist religion or occultist group ready to lead us into
      a new Dark Age. The author concludes: "What we must urgently do
      is renovate education and significantly raise the basic level of
      scientific knowledge, for, as C.P. Snow warned four decades ago,
      we must 'educate ourselves or perish'".
      QY: T. Tachibana, 2-18-12 Koishikawa, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112 JP.
      (Science 7 Aug 98 281:778)
      SCIENCE-WEEK http://scienceweek.com 4Sep98


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