Does Science Still Matter?! Of course!Posted: September 5, 2013
Granted, this article is from 2003, but it still baffles me. Human civilization is the way it is because of science. Light bulbs were created using chemistry. Buildings can stand tall because of engineering. Humans have a 30-year-longer life-expectancy because of medical advancements using scientifically created drugs, yet some people have the audacity to question the ongoing relevancy science?
I know it’s no secret that science has been following out of favor in terms of the allocation of government funding, but that’s necessarily a bad thing. To use NASA as an example, their funding has been cut down to $50 million a year, a mere fraction of the budget the administration received in its heyday during the 1960s and 70s. In speaking with senior NASA engineer Tim Van Sant this past spring, he admitted to me that NASA’s progress with new and existing projects is only slowing. He also told me that private corporations like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic have made significant headway towards goals that NASA has been working towards in half the time. Even many scientific advancements of old were made without government funding. Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone or the Wright brothers’ airplane are the building blocks for commodities that we take for granted today. Scientific breakthroughs have been continuously enhancing the quality of our lives for centuries, yet Creationism and Intelligent Design are on the rise once again. I’d like to see the supporters of these go one week without their car or precious smartphones. So why don’t the public want the government working to enhance their lives even more?
The problem is that the general, uneducated (I use that word very loosely) public are frankly afraid of science. As in most situations, the public views the bad outweighing the good. As far as they are concerned, cell phones and television may as well be a gift from the heavens since at the moment global warming and animal testing among others are the byproducts of scientific research. I won’t deny that these problems exist, and these problems will be fixed, but with science. In many people, myself included, religion and similar beliefs (*cough* astrology *cough*) is being forced out and replaced with science. It frightens the public. They are stuck in this middle-ground between choosing to believe what they were raised to, or believing what science is telling them to. As a response, they go with their gut. They want the science, but they want it done behind the scenes with private corporations. After all, what’s out of sight is out of mind.
The private industry is the future of scientific research, which in my opinion is by far the best way to go. The important research will be conducted by companies who are more financially stable than the government, have better researchers than the government, and who don’t have the enormous liability of the government. Whether or not the public will come to accept this truth remains to be seen, but regardless, they will have to deal with it.