This morning I came across an Op-Ed on the New York Times website by Brian Greene, titled Put a Little Science in Your Life. It’s a pretty good read… and I suspect it might only be readable by non-subscribers for a while, so go check it out now.
Some snippets from this article:
But here’s the thing. The reason science really matters runs deeper still. Science is a way of life. Science is a perspective. Science is the process that takes us from confusion to understanding in a manner that’s precise, predictive and reliable — a transformation, for those lucky enough to experience it, that is empowering and emotional. To be able to think through and grasp explanations — for everything from why the sky is blue to how life formed on earth — not because they are declared dogma but rather because they reveal patterns confirmed by experiment and observation, is one of the most precious of human experiences.
Now that’s a scientist speaking. Brian Greene is a string theorist, but I won’t hold it against him because this Op-Ed is so cool. On the nature of children:
As every parent knows, children begin life as uninhibited, unabashed explorers of the unknown. From the time we can walk and talk, we want to know what things are and how they work — we begin life as little scientists. But most of us quickly lose our intrinsic scientific passion. And it’s a profound loss.
Can we not all become like children again? Ready to be wide-eyed at the wonders of life, exploring the unknown in awe?
What does happen to our scientific passion? Why does “adulthood” kill it? Is it too challenging to have to sacrifice cherished dogma and beliefs when they turn out to be false? No, actually, I don’t think that’s really the reason. Children are learning machines… learning and absorbing new knowledge at a pace that boggles the mind. At some point one has enough knowledge and experience to get by, and priorities shift. It is no longer that important to know the truth, knowing enough to survive is, well, enough to survive. Such is life?
Not quite. It is a choice. Like the choice to appreciate the arts, or the choice to appreciate sport or the outdoors or good food or wine. Not everyone makes the same choices, and I believe we should respect diversity and individuality. However, we don’t all have the same choices in the first place…
Some people cannot afford good food or wine, or do not have opportunity to experience the arts, sport or the “outdoor lifestyle”. Various factors can suppress the choice, just like various societal pressures can suppress our ability to choose to enjoy and appreciate science. The question is then: what can we do to provide people with more choice, more opportunities, to appreciate the wonders of life?