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Wednesday, June 22, 2005
 Undermining Our Own Future in Education

Topic: Semi-random Thoughts
Bill would allow 'intelligent design' in Pennsylvania schools

We face a very strange irony in the United States today. For the past 20 years Republican law makers and economists have promoted the idea of outsourcing most of what America has traditionally done, such as manufacturing and mining, etc, in favor of developing a high technology based economy. The idea was that we would let the developing countries take on all the more mundane tasks of production and America would lead the world in new technologies and scientific advances.

There is one critical problem with this concept: Americans as a whole have never embraced science. How can America be the world leader in technology and science when America is actually behind the developing world in accepting scientific principles and is increasingly moving in the opposite direction of science both culturally and legally?

Just recently we learned that South Korea had made the most advanced breakthroughs in embryonic stem cell research, yet this form of research is actually illegal in America. The future of technology is biotechnology, yet America today has some of the most restrictive laws against biotechnology research. The future of technology is biotechnology, yet American's have some of the most out dated and backward notions of biology of any major country on Earth, and we are currently moving backward in public understanding of the biosciences with schools around the country attempting to block the teaching of evolution or promote the teaching of completely unfounded and religiously based concepts like 'intelligent design'.

Basically, we have put all our economic eggs in the high tech basket, yet the American public doesn't even want to get near the basket!

In essence, our 'economic planners', and yes America does have economic planners, have forged ahead on a road for which there is little public support or understanding, and as the economic plan for a high tech American future goes ahead, the American public is dragging the education system back towards the 18th century.

The percentage of college students seeking science and engineering degrees in America is going down, and of those that are, half of them are foreign students. As someone in the technology industry myself, I know that the majority of people I work with are first or second-generation foreigners, most of which speak English as a second language. My co-workers, at more than one company, have included people from Asia, South America, Eastern Europe and India.

The idea that the future of the American economy lies in science and high tech is so absurd when compared against the cultural reality of a nation that fundamentally rejects science. Face it, Americans are the least scientifically minded of all the G8 nations, and are even less scientifically minded than the populations of countries like China and India, which are still (at least for the time being) third world countries.

Depending on the poll, and how the questions are phrased, only about 10% to 30% of American accept the theory of evolution, and between 40% and 60% believe that 'God created life on Earth as we know it in present form'.

So here we are, with economists and industry leaders forging off into the brave new economy of high tech and science, only to realize that when they turn around to look, the American public is not behind them. Yeah, Americans like to consume high tech gadgets, but when it comes to truly learning and understanding the fundamentals of science, and the implications of what those fundamentals means, nah, Americans don't want that.

So, over the next 10 to 20 years, if the trends continue, we can certainly kiss our place among the leaders of technology and science goodbye, and with it, the last vestiges of our economy. The irony is that conservatives may actually get what they want: We may return to a farming nation, since by that time the populations of China and India will be so affluent and so large that they will need to import much more food than they do now, and America is still a leader in farming. I guess we are safe with farming, since there is no way to outsource land.

The high tech economy really was a good idea. It's too bad that America is still too busy battling 18th century demons to actually embrace it.


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 6:49 AM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, July 2, 2005 9:03 AM EDT

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