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Too Much Information, So Little Understanding

Karina Saravia
September 1st, 2013

Explaining and understanding is a fundamental goal of science. Modern tools and technologies make worlds of information and explanations readily available. Ironically, it appears that the public’s level of understanding is falling behind.

In 1982, polls showed that 44 percent of Americans believed God had created human beings in their present form. Thirty years later, the fraction of the population who are creationists is 46 percent. In 1989, when “climate change” had just entered the public lexicon, 63 percent of Americans understood it was a problem. Almost 25 years later, that proportion is actually a bit lower, at 58 percent.” (see Frank)

Is there too much information to choose from? Is the flood of information affecting the ability synthesize and comprehend it? Are people in denial? Or are people merely losing trust in science?

With the Internet, wikis and social media sites, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between fact and speculation. What is actually science and what is pseudoscience? The underlying problem lies in the public’s failure to distinguish the two. While real science characteristically utilizes empiricism and the scientific method to disprove, pseudoscience allures with subjectivism (See Smith). After all, the endless mediums of hyperbolic communication and the emerging religiosity of ‘scientism’ lend themselves for this kind of misdirection (See Bastasch; Haeder). Considering the rate of progress and development in society, this kind of miscommunication is unacceptable. The public needs to be informed. The people need to understand (See Beauchamp; Marshall).

Science is not all-powerful. It does not have all the answers. It does not address the moral and ethical topics in the analytical way the humanities can. However, scientific advances have brought us into this modern premise and must be used to at least determine the right questions. 

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