Science illiteracy is a threat to the nation, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson told a crowd in Greensboro, North Carolina on Tuesday night, according to a report by the Greensboro News & Record.
Tyson, the well-known Hayden Planetarium scientist and science communicator, told the crowd that the US is turning away from science, and that turning away from science leads societies to decline.
“The consequence of that is that you breed a generation of people who do not know what science is nor how and why it works,” he reportedly said. “You have mortgaged the future financial security of your nation. Innovations in science and technology are the [basis] of tomorrow’s economy.”
Tyson compared the modern United States to 12th Century Baghdadi society in present-day Iraq, which led the world in science and mathematics before a series of cataclysms led to its decline.
(In the News & Record summary, it’s reported that Tyson attributed the fall to a decision by a single cleric to reject science. The true story, of course, is a bit more complicated.)
Tyson said that during the Cold War, an excitement for American scientific achievement gripped the public. But that excitement has subsided in favour of unscientific superstition. He placed the blame specifically at the foot of states that decide not to rigorously teach established scientific ideas like evolution, and warned that they would face economic consequences as research and development moves elsewhere.
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