Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Americans Hate Science

Americans hate science. This is why there are mandatory Science classes in public school. This is why Mythbusters attracts so many viewers. This is why Scientific American has lasted decades. This is why millions of hours are spent on American computers editing Wikipedia entries on Biology and Physics.

This is why the 'M' in 'M.I.T.' stands for “Massachusetts.” This is why Harvard, Berkley and Yale yield so many keen minds. This is why millions of people watch the TED Talks and the lectures of Walter Lewin. This is why President Obama does photo ops with Francis Collins. This is why Stephen Hawking is a rockstar and Albert Einstein is on motivational posters.

Americans hate science. That is why so many houses have electricity and so many kids whine for cell phones. This is why Apple products have created a glossy white cult. This is why Americans drive so many combustion engines and emit so many terabytes per second. This is why some kid somewhere can’t wait for her first campus visit, or her first experiment with live corrosives, or for the next Symphony of Science song to finish downloading. Because of science, she doesn’t have to wait long. She pays for that science. Her people pay billions per year for that science. Her people have been paying for a long time, for crushing Polio, and for putting boots on the moon, and for cartography of the human brain.

I don’t know when “Americans” became “other people.” As an American who was excited for the LHC, who would pay higher taxes to help NASA, who has many friends and a sister in the sciences, and who wonders at both inner and outer space, I don’t much appreciate it.


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