The Science of Sustainability

Science Event Pick: Are We Scientifically Illiterate?

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"For every five hours of cable news, less than a minute is devoted to science" – Chris Mooney, Author of Unscientific America

Chris has been a lightning rod for controversy ever since he released the bestseller, The Republican War on Science, in 2006. Chris cites some famous stats that scientific illiteracy is increasing: 46 percent of Americans reject evolution and think the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. In his new book, he points the finger at a profit driven media, science phobic politicians, and the arrogance of scientists themselves. (Chris' recent showdown with famous science blogger PZ Myers is widely documented). His main point: this gap hinders productivity and has us falling behind in global innovation.

Then there was the recent Pew survey showing a widening gap between scientists and the public on key issues of global warming, evolution, and use of animals in research. The survey also looked at scientific illiteracy using a 12 question quiz (Take the quiz yourself!) with some surprising results:

  • 54% incorrectly identified electrons as bigger than atoms
  • 46% thought antibiotics kills viruses as well as bacteria
  • 24% failed to correctly a basic question on plate tectonics

But it isn't all doom and gloom, Chris outlines his strategy for closing that gap including sexing up science and training a new generation of science ambassadors in society at large.

Chris Mooney: Unscientific America

When: Monday, August 3rd 630 PM – 830 PM

Where: Kellogg Auditorium, Silicon Valley Bank, 3005 Tasman Dr., Santa Clara, CA

Time: 6:30 p.m. check-in, 7 p.m. program, 8 p.m. book signing

Cost: $15 members and non-members advance. $20 members and non-members at the door, Tickets

37.403659 -121.98339

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Kishore Hari

About the Author ()

Kishore Hari is the founder Down to a Science, a science cafe based in San Francisco. He is most passionate about making science discussion fun and accessible for adults, the kind of discussion that leads to positive change in the world. Professionally, he is a water treatment consultant in San Francisco. Originally from Buffalo, NY, Kishore came to the Bay Area to get a chemistry degree from UC Berkeley. He now specializes in residential water treatment, working with companies such as PUR, Brita, and Camelbak.
  • Onkel Bob

    Oh my, Are you advocating going to see C. Mooney speak? (not a rewarding experience) You claim he has a "strategy" yet none others have found such strategy.

  • http://www.sciencecafesf.com Kishore Hari

    I'm not necessarily advocating any Chris' positions (I myself have pointed criticisms of his thesis), but he definitely ignites an important discussion. And I believe this discussion about the state of scientific literacy is an important one for this country in this time.

    Personally, I'd like to see as many viewpoints as possible incorporated into this discussion as it has largely been dominated by scientists and policy makers to this point. The talk with Chris is an opportunity for members of any community to add their voice to the ongoing dialogue, especially in terms of how to/if we should integrate science into our larger culture.

  • Stan Hitomi

    I agree that this is a very important discussion! With very important implications for those of us engaged in science education. Statistics like those describe about how little the general republic remembers from their K-12 or K-16 education should make us question what and how we should be teaching.