Why Americans trust technology but not scienceRoundup
tags: Science, technology, Benjamin Franklin
Joyce Chaplin is a professor of history at Harvard University, author of "The First Scientific American: Benjamin Franklin and the Pursuit of Genius" and a current Guggenheim Fellow.
It is one of the central ironies of our age: A nation devoted, even addicted, to technology regularly dismisses science itself.
Advances in electronic media helped elect a U.S. president who uses such technology to his advantage but dismisses the science of climate change. And President Trump is not alone. Many Americans rely on technology as they reject science, using the Internet to, for instance, build a case for why they should not vaccinate their children.
The current reality is at odds with the accomplishment and vision of Benjamin Franklin, whose birthday is today. Franklin was a man of science who wanted science and technology to improve everyday life. He championed inoculation against smallpox; now we can vaccinate against many diseases. He published a newspaper and invented the concept of the electric battery — anyone reading this article online is doubly Franklinesque.
In his era, science was central to national prestige, and thoughtful engagement with both science and technology was desirable. During the 18th century, children learned Newtonian physics, women studied botany and lowborn sailors published their observations of the world. Inclusion was not universal, but the aspiration to engage more and more people in science was a notable goal.
comments powered by Disqus
- Trump administration says joint UNC, Duke Middle East Studies program portrays Islam too positively
- What White Kids Learn About Race in School
- Frederick Douglass photos smashed stereotypes. Could Elizabeth Warren selfies do the same?
- Chronicling New York’s Muslim History
- New Documents Illuminate The University of Texas’s Secret Strategy to Keep Out Black Students
- Women Scientists Were Written Out of History. It’s Margaret Rossiter’s Lifelong Mission to Fix That
- Allen C. Guelzo Reviews Sidney Blumenthal's Latest Installment of His Biography of Lincoln
- What Reconstruction-Era Laws Can Teach Our Democracy: The NY Times Reviews Eric Foner's Latest Book
- Should historians read their own book?
- Cokie Roberts, Pioneering Journalist Who Helped Shape NPR, Dies At 75