Illiteracy Quotes (8 quotes)
A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is about the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare’s?
Illiteracy in England is mainly determined by congenital weak-mindedness, in India by parental poverty.
Increasingly, our leaders must deal with dangers that threaten the entire world, where an understanding of those dangers and the possible solutions depend on a good grasp of science. The ozone layer, the greenhouse effect, acid rain, questions of diet and of heredity--all require scientific literacy. Can Americans choose the proper leaders and support the proper programs if they are scientifically illiterate?
Increasingly, our leaders must deal with dangers that threaten the entire world, where an understanding of those dangers and the possible solutions depends on a good grasp of science. The ozone layer, the greenhouse effect, acid rain, questions of diet and heredity. All require scientific literacy. Can Americans choose the proper leaders and support the proper programs if they themselves are scientifically illiterate? The whole premise of democracy is that it is safe to leave important questions to the court of public opinion—but is it safe to leave them to the court of public ignorance?
It is science alone that can solve the problems of hunger and poverty, of insanitation and illiteracy, of superstition and deadening custom and tradition, of vast resources running to waste, of a rich country inhabited by starving people… Who indeed could afford to ignore science today? At every turn we have to seek its aid … the future belongs to science and those who make friends with science.
Let me suggest to you a simple test one can apply to scientific activities to determine whether or not they can constitute the practice of physics. Is what you are doing beautiful? Many beautiful things are created without the use of physical knowledge, but I know of no really worthwhile physics that isn’t beautiful. Indeed, one of the most distressing symptoms of scientific illiteracy is the impression so often given to school children that science is a mechanistic activity subject to algorithmic description.
Rampant scientific illiteracy in the general public is, in my opinion, one major cause of the current lack of opportunities for scientists. … A public that is ignorant of science, and of how science is done, is not going to support scientific research enthusiastically.
There is waste going on in the business life of our people in many ways—waste both of resources and of opportunities. There is waste of energy due to insufficient occupation, because agriculture gives full employment for only six or seven months in the year. There is waste due to illiteracy, because ninety-four persons out of every hundred are uneducated. There is waste through ignorance of the ways of the civilized people, because we fail to utilize their accumulated asset of wisdom and experience. Waste is also going on through our imperfect acquaintance with the commonplaces of civilization and lack of correct business ideals and business standards in daily life. Mental energy is wasted in caste disputes and village factions. Capital is wasted because money is hoarded instead of being made available for productive purposes. There is waste of health because, although leading moral lives normally, men and women grow prematurely old for want of pride of person and attention to the elementary laws of health. The largest waste of all is the lack of capacity for cooperation, the difficulty of ensuring harmony, sympathy and oneness of feeling, in matters affecting the larger interests of the State.