Your beliefs vs
Superfly junior after plodding through the entire list during the superfly junior course of an afternoon, I smugly discovered I could easily define each item of scientific vocabulary. buy nike shoes Fuzziness about literary examples such as “Aeschylus” caused me no discomfort, but inability to rigorously describe “aerobic respiration” in the biochemical sense (not the superficial, thenpopular Jane Fonda sense) would have induced severe nerdish embarrassment.
The wrong kind of scientific literacy
Today I teach science and its history at an honors college and am naturally far less confident buy nike shoes about how to measure scientific literacy. The students who enter our program possess not only the expected high SAT scores, but also perfect or nearperfect scores on a battery of Advanced Placement exams, particularly in the basic sciences.
A noticeable portion of those students also believe in the literal truth of certain ancient accounts of Earth’s history that, to put it bluntly, directly contradict mountains of wellestablished data from geology, climatology, and biology. Without rehashing the ongoing culture wars surrounding this topic (and certainly without berating my own students), this serves as a useful place to begin tackling the notion of “scientific literacy,
We frequently hear the refrain that if America simply raised the level of science courses, taught our children more subjects, and/or gave them more handson lab work, it could ensure the production of a citizenry capable of understanding an increasingly complex world. They would then be prepared to make superfly junior the difficult choices of the 21st century.
However, my incoming students’ technical mastery already exceeds what even the most rosyeyed optimist could realistically dream for America (or the globe) as a whole. To varying degrees, it can be found across the spectrum, including some very striking examples in the realm of professional science itself.
As noted last year in Seed magazine, leading disciplinary practitioners who feel superfly junior threatened by unorthodox new findings will sometimes band together to suppress such information, with the explicit intention of blocking its appearance in scientific journals.
While these luminaries undoubtedly convince themselves they are merely upholding the integrity of their fields, the truth is that they (in quintessentially human fashion) are often more interested in preserving cherished beliefs than in encouraging potentially disruptive discoveries.
Over the past few decades, growing evidence from cognitive science has revealed significant limits on the ability of individuals to criticize their own viewpoints. Even the most analytically gifted and experienced among us are susceptible to bias and selfdeception to an extent that we (fittingly enough) generally fail to appreciate superfly junior.