Marly Marl – Droppin’ Science

I admit I’m surprised by this, given the high standards I hold my homeland to, but I suppose I shouldn’t expect so much of the 16 to 18 year old set regardless of the locale. A Canadian survey recently found that only 4% of Canadian teens see science as ‘cool’ – which leads me to ruminate upon the sorry state of science PR when you can’t fucking make robots and lasers and spacecraft appealing to youth. Seriously. You know, robots. Robots! Dinosaurs, too!

The same survey found that only 37% of these students were considering post-secondary study in a science course. This badass infographic tells me that that’s comparable with China’s current crop of university students, where enrollment in science and engineering is just over 40%, so I don’t think that’s actually too bad a figure. Not when you compare it to the USA’s unsurprising and paltry sub-15% of enrollments in those degrees.

Across the Pacific, a recent poll found – in total disregard for national stereotypes – that Australians are more interested in science than sport (although, I dare you to prove that during prime-time in football season).  All this despite the presence of this anti-reason douchebag as a prominent public figure and both state and federal governments intent on funding the exact opposite of science education.

I don’t know what conclusion to draw from all this. All I know is that a basic understanding of science is going to become more and more essential for every member of society, as the problems we face will grow more and more complex and require more knowledge to understand. It’s especially damning if our only science graduates are reclusive antisocials and all the cool kids run off to do law and economics, because science desperately needs to be communicated (and communicated well) in order to be accepted and understood.

We’ve already seen examples of what happens when scientific illiteracy reigns: Americans with their bizarre restrictions on stem cell research; Europeans with their paranoid aversion to GM crops; drought-stricken cities voting down recycled water; the continuing spread of HIV across Africa courtesy of false wisdom bestowed upon us by the king of all douchebags; and the myriad of horrible things done by witch doctors, exorcists and homeopaths across the globe. It’s not so bad now, but when a frighteningly large percentage of people don’t even know how long it takes the Sun to go around the Earth, what completely avoidable problem will we march willingly into next?