General Public

I have long maintained that the intelligence quotient of the average American has greatly declined in the last 30 years. Our nation reads little, and researches subjective information even less. Our people spend time playing video games, and watching television. The latter is the biggest culprit; for some unknown reason, people believe what they see and hear on television. If a celebrity on FOX News spews a lie from his or her mouth, loyal viewers accept what is said without question. A recent survey reports that the general public believes they know more than scientists. For me this a frightening revelation. This is similar to a priest, who is not allowed to marry, giving counsel to a married couple. He has no idea what he’s talking about.

But then there’s the other side. Americans must live with the decisions made by scientists in most situations. For instance; the vast majority of scientists believe that GMO foods are safe, and that the increased use of pesticides because of genetically modified crops poses no health problems for the people of our nation. Many Americans doubt this is accurate. They raise the question of ‘why are they safe in the United States, when they are banned or have heavy restrictions on the products in the European Union, Australia, and Japan? Are American scientist smarter than those in other nations?

Other issues found a reversal of opinion. Scientists believe that offshore drilling and fracking pose great dangers to the environment and humans. The general public disagrees. More than 87 percent of American scientist are positive that climate change is the result of man’s use of fossil fuels. Only 50 percent of Americans agree.

Is this a ‘pick and choose’ situation? Do Americans believe the facts, or do they choose what to believe based on what is best for their lifestyle?

Today a report told of an alarming issue. The polar ice cap is melting at a faster rate than predicted. This means that the ocean’s temperatures are rising more quickly than scientists believed.

Part of the gap between Science and human perception is communication. Politicians have a relentless forum to express their opinions; scientists do not.

We must not fail to simply look around us and see the incredible advances which make our daily lives more pleasant. These are the results of scientific research and development; television did not make them happen.

Commentary by James Turnage


Popular Science


Photo Courtesy of Len “Doc” Radin

Flickr License

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