For Public Understanding of Science
|1.||Knowledge is simply a good thing in itself.|
|2.||People will be able to make more intelligent, personal consumer decisions if they have more knowledge of science and technology.|
|3.||The very structure of a democratic society depends upon the existence of an enlightened citizenry. The political and social behavior of this citzenry in voting, in influencing elective and appointed officials, and in engaging in political and social activism, will be more constructive for society if it is informed by solid scientific understanding.|
As far as assumption one is concerned, Trachtman says: "With this claim I have no argument, but it can hardly be the basis for the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars annually as part of a deliberate policy of informing the public about science."
In a nation whose chief executive has just advanced a budget that allocates a quarter of a trillion dollars in one year to weapons of war, a few hundred thousand dollars for science education would seem trivial, especially if the other two assumptions hold up, but we all have our priorities, and I hesitate to expect others to live with mine.
As far as assumption two is concerned, Trachtman feels that the vast amount of information spewed forth by the media, much of it self-contradictory, leaves the public confused and unable to come to any decisions as to what to buy or how to live.He says, concerning the citizen, "If he were completely uninformed and simply followed the advice of his doctor or an appropriate government agency to eat a moderate and balanced diet,he would almost certainly be as well off."