Marcelo Gleiser is concerned that not enough people are interested in science.
Writing on his blog at the NPR website, Mr. Gleiser ask, "Why Should You Care About Science?" and then, of course, proceeds to offer an explanation.
He allows that it would be "unrealisitc to expect that the whole population of the United States would be interested in the latest scientific advancements." However, he is alarmed at "the level of disconnect between the science people use and the science they know." Science has an enormous impact on culture, and, hence, on our lives. If only for this reason, you'd think more people would pay attention to it.
He explains that science itself is in part to blame, but not intentionally. Science has become more complex and abstract than it was in previous generations, requiring more sophisticated kinds of thinking and equipment, and these are beyond the reach of most people. "So," Mr. Gleiser explains, "there is a growing distance between most people and the way objects of interest to scientists are seen and studied, and how the results from the various observations are interpreted."
He could be right about this. Well, I'm pretty sure he's right; however, I don't think this is the only reason why more people don't keep up with what's going on in the sciences.
Consider: Who of us likes to be in a group of know-it-alls who delight to brandish their knowledge and put on airs of superiority toward others? A lot of science writing comes off like this to me - arrogant, condescending, and oh-so-absolutely-certain. There's no room for us outsiders to do anything but nod in agreement and, I suppose, genuflect.
I don't say this is a conscious attitude on the part of scientists or science writers, but it's there. Here's is how, for example, Mr. Gleiser expresses his frustratiion with those who just don't get it: "Perhaps this is why, some time ago, a reader told me that, to him, believing in an abstract God or in a claim that the universe is 13.7 billion years old was not so different. And yet, these two couldn't be more different! The same sort of difficulty arises when people doubt what scientists have to say about global warming. Without a concrete, tangible in-your-face evidence, people find it much harder to 'believe,' even though global warming, as any other scientific claim, has nothing to do with belief."
"Nothing to do with belief"? Come on. Science is all about believing things without being able to prove them. I'd like to see Mr. Gleiser prove that last statement. Science is founded on certain unprovable assumptions, and the really inconvenient thing for secular scientists is that those assumptions are not inherent in their own naturalistic, randomized worldview. They derive from the Christian worldview within which the modern scientific endeavor had its beginnings.
Science depends on faith as much as, well, faith depends on faith. The scientist who will not admit that is simply unwilling - or perhaps, unable? - to engage in a discussion of the foundational beliefs of science.
This unwillingness to be honest about the real nature of science is as offputting to me in science writers as any of the difficulty I may have in trying to understand the substance of their reports.
A little more humility - and honesty - on the part of secular science writers might make for more dialog with the unwashed masses like myself who really are interested in science but who do not enjoy interacting with bores.