Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Question for Neil DeGrasse Tyson - what is science literacy?

Question submitted for Chris Mooney's Point of Inquiry interview with Neil DeGrasse Tyson:
Dr. Tyson, what is scientific literacy, and should a stellar scientific communicator focus his efforts on filling in the most dangerous holes in it? In the 2010 World Science Festival (video) you at first suggested science literacy was, in effect, knowing what questions to ask a purveyor of "healing power" crystals, but at the end you suggested* that science literacy meant understanding enough about science to vote as an informed citizen. Which of these two arenas is more important?

And if the public has become confused about an issue of monumental importance, with monumental consequences and monumental opposition to public literacy on the issue, who should be communicating to them about it?

* From the video, at 5:47, "You don't have to be a scientist, but at least understand what's going on in the world that is shaped [by decisions]...scientific decisions inform political decisions, and you all vote. I'm here to get you excited enough about science that you want to become scientifically literate.".

Wanted and desperately needed: A climate version of Neil deGrasse Tyson.

No comments: