Frustrations with the general populace's lack of interest in science

In summary: It can be very frustrating at times, and it is certainly a VERY poor reflection on the general education and interest in knowledge of our populace, but it is hardly limited to science. People who love to read and are well read see the same thing with the general disinterest in literature, and that's just ONE other example. There are many.
  • #36
pinball1970 said:
The general population do not care about science that much, they are not stupid, they just want to make sure the kids get to school on time and they can pay the bills at the end of the month.
I think so too. And we all have different preferences regarding what we are interested in.
 
  • Like
Likes pinball1970 and BillTre
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #37
MikeeMiracle said:
I have personally always had an interest in "how things work" from an early age. It seems to me to be our responsibility as such to have a basic understanding on how the world around us functions, came to be, and what causes things to be the way they are.

I struggle to truly comprehend how so many people just go about living their lives without a care in the world about how we got here or have any understanding about the world around us.

I recall getting all exicted when the news was anounced that gravitational waves had been detected, when I tried to explain what this meant to my manage he responded with "What's the point of space anyway, I mean it's just there and it doesn't do anything"...

Does anyone else also have these feelings or is it just myself?
It's MOSTLY you. Very few people really make the effort to find how the natural world works, or how any of engineering or technology work. Be aware also that while some people or many are not interested in physical or natural sciences nor tech/engineering, at least a few are interested in the Human Behavioral Sciences and such people who make the effort really do form an understanding in this general field.
 
  • #38
russ_watters said:
Ok, so when you said "literature" you just meant basic reading skill? When I was in high school I'd burn through a thousand page Tom Clancy in a week, but my mother would still lament that I wasn't reading "literature".

Yes, I agree that reading is an essential life skill. Appreciation of "literature" is not.
The trouble there is that some students are (1) not mature enough, or (2) have not developed the reading level necessary for it.

Hope is there for some students because with time, students DO mature, and with some additional instruction time and reasonable practice, Reading levels DO increase.
 
  • Like
Likes russ_watters
  • #39
MikeeMiracle said:
wow, lots of responses :) I don't get worked up about this stuff and can let it go perfectly easily, like i say it just occasionally gets frustrating.

Going back to that literature example (not literate,) I do not feel this is even slighty comparable. True everyone has ther own nieches and interests but without literature in this world we would be no worse off. Without science humanity would not be would probably be stuck in the victorain ages. It is science that progresses humankind and is even allowing us to have this dicussion over technology.

This is my point, literature and other similar example are only an "interest" and do not affect our day to day lives or progression as a species.
That is easily debatable.
 
  • Like
Likes russ_watters
  • #40
MikeeMiracle said:
Going back to that literature example (not literate,) I do not feel this is even slighty comparable. True everyone has ther own nieches and interests but without literature in this world we would be no worse off. Without science humanity would not be would probably be stuck in the victorain ages. It is science that progresses humankind and is even allowing us to have this dicussion over technology.

This is my point, literature and other similar example are only an "interest" and do not affect our day to day lives or progression as a species.
symbolipoint said:
That is easily debatable.
Yeah, be careful who you say that to. I wasn't even sure I thought it was a good example (and I thought twice about my response to it) because some literature has some "intrinsic"* value, particularly when it incorporates philosophy, ethics, historical study, etc. I suppose it's unfortunate there isn't widely disseminated academic/professional philosophy, but that's another issue (or is it?)...

Consider Oedipus and The Matrix. These are discussions of fate and free will. They even have scientific implications. They have real value due to implications for how we view and live our lives. They matter. For most people they will have more direct relevance than gravitational waves.

*I'm probably going to get in trouble again for using that word, but I don't care.
 
  • Like
Likes Klystron and Astronuc
  • #41
phinds said:
Which is what you get when people lack the essential skill of critical thinking, which is what Russ pointed out and I agreed with. Not understanding history or literature or geography, etc., or even very much of science itself is not only not terrible, it's true of most of us that we understand fewer of those things than we are familiar with (in detail at least). The fundamental thing is critical thinking. If you don't have that you can't figure out what's BS and what not.
I agree on the critical thinking.
We (school early 80s) were taught about critical thinking in English reviewing press articles. I will admit that I did not get the full significance at the time and how important it was. Luckily my interest in the sciences was teaching me the mechanism and importance without explicitly stating it.
 
  • Like
Likes Klystron
  • #42
MikeeMiracle said:
I have personally always had an interest in "how things work" from an early age. It seems to me to be our responsibility as such to have a basic understanding on how the world around us functions, came to be, and what causes things to be the way they are.

I struggle to truly comprehend how so many people just go about living their lives without a care in the world about how we got here or have any understanding about the world around us.

I recall getting all exicted when the news was anounced that gravitational waves had been detected, when I tried to explain what this meant to my manage he responded with "What's the point of space anyway, I mean it's just there and it doesn't do anything"...

Does anyone else also have these feelings or is it just myself?
I have to agree with you MikeeMiracle. No interest at all.. Like the " Walking Dead ".
 
  • Like
Likes pinball1970
  • #43
I am reminded of Guy Montag from Fahrenheit 451.

He is (forgive the hokey anachronism) "woke". He sees the world for what it is, and it is a curse - a burden he must bear.

His wife, on the other hand, is preoccupied with her 3D "soaps" and spends her afternoons wailing over the evil TV antics of Doctor-Drake-Remoray's-evil-twin-brother - or whatever it is she's watching.

Her ability to lose herself in fiction is only possible because her society is stable.

I see this rise of frivolity as a barometer of how secure we feel as a culture. The more our needs and then our wants are fulfilled, the more we have room for art and recreation.

Another more modern example is Men in Black. They do their dirty jobs so that the population can keep going about their business - making money spending money, having children, keeping the world ticking.

Most of the preposterous silliness you see on the internet and - notably - in reality TV shows is another symptom of how successfully we've built a secure society (at least in the first world countries).

Understanding how the world works and watching for dangers and opportunities is important, but we can't all be watchdogs, or the world would stop ticking.

I'm not arguing ignorance of science is a good thing, just looking at the silver lining.

When we start seeing masses of people getting "woke" about science, it will be because we're in real danger as a planet (like what is happening with climate change for the millennials).
 
  • Like
  • Informative
Likes russ_watters, BillTre, pinball1970 and 1 other person
  • #44
DaveC426913 said:
I am reminded of Guy Montag from Fahrenheit 451.

He is (forgive the hokey anachronism) "woke". He sees the world for what it is, and it is a curse - a burden he must bear.
Excellent example. I tend to remember well written novels vividly and in more detail than movies, but the finals scenes of the original movie haunt me. Guy Montag stalks the banks of a slow flowing stream with other readers struggling to memorize and recite passages from the few remaining books.

To paraphrase from memory:
"I did not know my Father. Indeed, he barely knew me. He died as he thought he would when the first snows of Winter came."
 
  • #45
MikeeMiracle said:
I struggle to truly comprehend how so many people just go about living their lives without a care in the world about how we got here or have any understanding about the world around us.

Really and why should you? There are far more important concerns in our everyday life that we should be more interested in than science and I am concerned that too many do not

As far a science goes we develop for thousands of years with little knowledge or understanding of science. Only within the last 100 years or so has science been readily available in our schools. Maybe there was a sweet spot in our recent history where there was more interest in science but today we are increasingly a one use civilization where everything is basically a black box and we have become more entranced in what these can deliver rather wondering how they do what they do. The worst development from that perspective IMO is the smart phone.

I'm afraid that lack of thinking let alone about science is more distressing. Perhaps if we start to spend our time thinking instead of worrying about the Kardashians or the Bachelor we might see an increase in interest in science. If we do not then perhaps one day we will awaken without the Kardashians or science to worry about.
 
  • Like
Likes russ_watters
  • #46
gleem said:
As far a science goes we develop for thousands of years with little knowledge or understanding of science. Only within the last 100 years or so has science been readily available in our schools. Maybe there was a sweet spot in our recent history where there was more interest in science but today we are increasingly a one use civilization where everything is basically a black box and we have become more entranced in what these can deliver rather wondering how they do what they do. The worst development from that perspective IMO is the smart phone.
Perhaps this is quite natural. Cars, for example, are so stuffed full of electronics that - apart from putting in water, oil, fuel and air - they are now essentially black boxes. And labour costs are so high that it is cheaper to upgrade / replace than to fix most devices. Most devices are essentially "magical", fixable only by techo-wizards.

Why bother trying to understand them?
 
  • #47
Since this thread is devolving into political discussions, we need to lock it for Moderation...
 
  • Like
Likes jim mcnamara
  • #48
I have removed the comments on the current administration. This is not the place we want to ignite a debate. I know that the subject is inherently political as it touches scientific education. Nevertheless, please try to keep it at science related comments - and no this will not include current decisions and staff. No backdoor here!
 
  • Like
Likes russ_watters
  • #49
Michael Price said:
Perhaps this is quite natural. Cars, for example, are so stuffed full of electronics that - apart from putting in water, oil, fuel and air - they are now essentially black boxes. And labour costs are so high that it is cheaper to upgrade / replace than to fix most devices. Most devices are essentially "magical", fixable only by techo-wizards.

Why bother trying to understand them?
American throw away "black box" technology baffled engineers I worked among in South East Asia. Those gents and ladies fixed things where possible else salvaged pieces for a second life.

I once recognized a night security guard from our radar installation on a local klong (canal + stream) 'fishing' during the day from a small boat. His fishing gear included coir rope tied to half a large magnet from a burnt-out magnetron. His catch included rusty rebar, a broken knife blade, and the hood (bonnet) from a Hillman Minx. Content with his catch he took a swim.

I drove a similar car with an in-line 4 cylinder engine; the last car I owned that was fun to maintain. Minimal electronics but it came with a hand crank in case of a dead battery.
 
  • Like
Likes Michael Price
  • #50
I am going to try and explain Graham's number to some ex work colleagues this afternoon and see how far I get before I see that glazed expression. I may be surprised though, I will feedback.
 
  • Like
Likes Klystron

Similar threads

Replies
7
Views
730
  • General Discussion
Replies
6
Views
290
Replies
21
Views
794
Replies
6
Views
952
Replies
5
Views
1K
Replies
14
Views
978
  • General Discussion
Replies
29
Views
2K
Replies
17
Views
1K
Replies
19
Views
1K
Replies
7
Views
633
Back
Top