Ladies and gentlemen. I think the confusion here is that you are all very ignorant. Is that the right word, ignorant? I mean stupid, primitive, unenlightened. You do not understand science, so you are afraid of it. Like a dog is afraid of thunder or balloons. To you, science is magic and witchcraft because you have such small minds. I cannot make your heads bigger, but your children’s heads, I can take them and crack them open. This is what I try to do, to get at their brains! ~Mr Rzykruski “Frankenweenie” 2012
This quote, from an animated children’s movie, as harsh as it sounds or reads, is unfortunately a very true statement, and gets straight to the core of a disease which attempts to threaten the whole of science. In short, that so many people see it as some mystical, untouchable field, wherein very few amazing discoveries are made, by very few brilliant minds, and everything else is “just a theory.” Ok, that’s it, you can stop reading now, the rest of this article is just to fill white space.
Ok, ok, I kid. There really is a whole lot more to it than that.
The child’s brain is a sponge; it’s taking in information from all angles. They’re looking for answers to everything. They ask questions. They bang pans. They flush balls down the toilet. In that, every child is born a sucker … and one is born, as they say, every second. No, no, I take that back. An open mind is born every second. I think that sounds better, so let’s go with that … Ignorant. We are all ignorant from birth. Stupid, stupid takes an effort. Stupid is what happens when a child is told to stop, sit down, and shut up. Stupid is what happens, when we fill that sponge with magic, mysticism, materialism, and mass media. Stupid is what happens, when we tell our children math is hard, and science is confusing. My own father told me once, when I brought up a biology experiment, involving a chicken embryo, where they suppressed proteins during development, and grew tiny dino embryo (kinda). Anyway, he told me, with the straightest of faces, “they can do anything in a laboratory.” Had my debate skills been anywhere near as honed as they are now … I would have had a few great replies. The point is, that is the kind of stuff children are being handed. Drop some green liquid in this tube, a turn of the gas valve, some Rocky Horror Picture Show knob cranking, and poof!! That’s science.
Things were different for a period. A not so very comfortable period. I like to refer to it as the scientific golden age. It’s more popularly known as The Cold War. Science, at that time, was a very important subject. It needed to be, it was an arms race, a space race, and a nuclear race. In elementary and primary schools around the world, maths were imperative. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we repeat the political mistakes of that era. Only that a lot of great technology came out of it, a lot of great science. Far out of it, funds for manned space exploration have been cut, and the only astronauts being sought, are 2 one-way travelers to Mars — maybe. Maths are regarded, by the parents, as difficult to understand, and the teachers have their arms tied, trying to teach the student the modern way to math. The computer technology which came from it, has grown exponentially (thanks Moore). So much that all those people who think science is so mystical and magical, get to have it, and infinite libraries of knowledge, at their fingertips … So they can search — Taylor Swift.
I really feel like the world has been dropped on its head.
Thankfully, though, there are few brilliant, powerful, eloquent minds out there, in the scientific community, who have captivated an audience in the name of science. Thankfully, scientists like Carl Sagan, who spoke with such beautiful, understandable, passionate words, existed. So that others, like Neil Degrasse Tyson, could carry their torch, in demystifying science.