In short we founded SLM (Scientific Literacy Matters) to promote a more reasonable way of thinking in society. It’s been shown time, and time again, that most things ailing humanity comes from ignorance or misinformation. War, poverty, oppression; all things that stem from misconceptions.
Humans are intelligent creatures and we desire knowledge. Like Carl Sagan said, thinking makes us feel good. That’s why we did everything from discovering how to create and use fire, to putting men on the moon.
In the process we have made many mistakes. A rather major one being man made climate change. We have previously been able to build things to improve our lives with the misconception that actions don’t really have consequences.
Now humanity has evolved to the point that we can recognize our mistakes and predict the consequences. We can no longer afford to explore for the sake of exploration. It has now become a matter of survival, the survival of the human species.
The first milestone will be sustaining Earth’s habitability long enough that we can come up with a plan b for where humans can live.
Of course not everything is our own fault. The universe could be mistaken for working against our survival. Even if we manage to make Earth recover, and colonize the solar system, this is still not enough in the (really) long term. The star that has sustained life on Earth will eventually turn against us, expanding to the point where the habitable solar system will be no more. Don’t even get me started on entropy and the heat death of the universe.
But what does this have to do with a well-informed general public? We have scientists working on those things right?
It is often said that it wasn’t the astronauts, nor the engineers or scientists, which landed on the moon. It was, in fact, all of humanity.
There is truth to this. The entire world was following the space race closely. Chances are that if public interest had not been invested in either space exploration, or beating the Russians, depending on how you look at it, it would not have been possible.
Humans tend to think in small scales when it comes to time. X billion years may seem like an eternity. But with the challenges we are facing, the time to act is now. It took 9 years for America to go from putting a man in orbit, to putting a man on the moon. Which is immensely impressive as well as rapid.
But compared to going to other star systems, landing on the moon is a small feat. Perhaps comparable to controlling fire versus going to the moon.
That’s why we need to ensure that the public is aware of the issues and invested in seeing them solved.
In the short term, to prevent things such as bigotry and hate, disease and poverty. In the long term to make sure that humanity lives on.
Should humanity fail to do so, what will have been the point of all our marvelous accomplishments?
A well informed, scientifically literate public, will result in the following.
- A society where people are aware of the wonders of the universe, and thus able to enjoy them.
- A population that will consider consequences of actions such as voting with more care.
- A society where hate is gradually replaced with understanding, but not necessarily acceptance.
- A population less likely to fall victim to charlatans.
- A population more invested in building a better future, rather than immediate gain at the expense of the future.
So that’s the immense task we have dedicated ourselves to aiding here at Scientific Literacy Matters.