Carl Sagan saw this coming more than 20 years ago :( If there's any way out of this it's got to start with teaching scientific literacy in schools.
I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...
The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance”
"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'"
-Isaac Asimov, Column in Newsweek (21 January 1980)
Why don't we ever talk about scientists being bought out by corporations? Getting harmful medicines etc. past government regulators, telling us various things in food are good/bad for us then later telling us the opposite... the list goes on.
I'm sure religion and politics are both bigger reasons for Americans not trusting science, but surely corporate "science" has an effect on the public's trust.
Americans 20 years ago were actually less educated, and relied even more heavily on things such as horoscope, fortune telling and religions. Right now the vast majority of Americans, especially the younger ones (sub 40) are the most intelligent members of this country.
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The internet empowers idiots which decreases the trust.
It used to be hard to get your ideas published to print. Things we see written in nice type face have an ingrained importance, we used to only see things printed in the newspapers and magazines, and getting your ideas to that part was hard. There were many barriers to entry, editors, companies. But now, an article in a science publications looks visually indifferent and to any wacko that can setup something in no time. So we’ve lost some “soft” impediments to publishing for the sake of free flowing information for all, the tech companies are utterly useless in understanding the scope of what they created, and we are now witnessing further political turmoil worldwide because we’ve made a full shift to this information publishing age without figuring out how to do it... Happy Friday!
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