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24 September 2010

We're Fucked by Anti-Intellectualism

So I have long complained that for some reason people want to embrace anti-intellectualism, and they rail against intelligence.  Having an education is viewed as a bad thing.  Being smart makes you a target.  Well, having these backward and primitive views will probably bite us in the end.  Even USA Today (a trash venue of print) picked up a story on it.  I'll reproduce it below in a bit.

Sadly, the TEA party, and the GOP are probably the biggest perpetrators of this crime on our ability to be a vibrant and productive country.  Their insistence that anyone with a brain should be considered an effete snob, or part of some intellectual elite has sown a distrust in the mind of the average citizen that anything associated with learning is shunned.  The only "experts" these people will accept now are those who adhere to bronze age fables or do all they can to reinforce their particular myths.  It's sad really.  It's almost as if these people are trying to destroy the US.  And here they were all afraid of the Taliban and Al-Queda, when they are doing the job better than these savages ever could hope for.

Good job fuckwads...

Report: Poor science education impairs U.S. economy

Stagnant scientific education imperils U.S. economic leadership, says a report by leading business and science figures.
Released Thursday at a congressional briefing attended by senators and Congress members of both parties, the report updates a 2005 science education report that led to moves to double federal research funding.
Nevertheless, the Rising Above the Gathering Storm review finds little improvement in U.S. elementary and secondary technical education since then.
"Our nation's outlook has worsened," concludes the report panel headed by former Lockheed Martin chief Norman Augustine. The report "paints a daunting outlook for America if it were to continue on the perilous path it has been following":
•U.S. K-12 education in mathematics and science ranks 48th worldwide.
•49% of U.S. adults don't know how long it takes for the Earth to circle the sun.
China has replaced the United States as the world's top high-technology exporter.
Although U.S. school achievement scores have stagnated, harming the economy as employers look elsewhere for competent workers, the report says that other nations have made gains.
If the USA's students matched Finland's, for example, analysis suggests the U.S. economy would grow 9%-16%. "The real point is that we have to have a well-educated workforce to create opportunities for young people," says Charles Vest, head of the National Academy of Engineering, a report sponsor. "Otherwise, we don't have a chance."
"The current economic crisis makes the link between education and employment very clear," says Steven Newton of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland.
In 2007, however, an analysis led by B. Lindsay Lowell of Georgetown University found that worries about U.S. science education were overblown. It saw three times more science and engineering college graduates than job openings each year. Other reports have found top science and engineering students migrating to better-paying jobs in finance, law and medicine since the 1990s.

Reaction to "Gathering Storm" U.S. science education report

A National Academies report Thursday warned of a crummy economic future unless fixes are made to U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.
Included below are longer reactions to the "Rising Above the Gathering Storm," report:
Steven Newton, Programs and Policy Director, National Center for Science Education, Inc.
The NCSE welcomes this report, and we hope that the call for improving education—particularly in science, math, and technology fields—is heard by many. When the 2005 Gathering Storm report was released, the New York Times' Thomas Friedman wrote that the urgency of its findings required a bold "new New Deal" for education.
But meaningful educational reforms have not materialized.
Today, most school districts operate at a starvation level. Hawaii, for example, now requires students to bring their own toilet paper! Worse, in the first half of 2010, Hawaii ran its public schools only 4 days a week—this at a time when we should be expanding the hours students spend in school, not cutting them.
Cuts to education are almost always short-sighted; there is a direct link between education and the economy. Educated citizens earn more, and pay more taxes. When states save money by not fixing roads, more drivers get flat tires. But when states try to save money by short-changing public education, they rob kids of their futures and they rob America of its economic growth.
The current economic crisis makes the link between education and employment very clear. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009, 14.6% of workers without a high school diploma were unemployed, compared to just 2.5% of those with a PhD. Moreover, those with doctorates earned on average over one thousand dollars per week more than those without high school diplomas. These differences highlight the increasing urgency of fixing the long-term problems in American education.
ResearchAmerica!, a science advocacy group, weighed in as well with a statement (excerpted):
"America's economic destiny lies in innovation, technology, science and research. It is here that investments will pay off in strong economic growth and a bright future," said former Congressman John Edward Porter, Research!America's chair. "The America COMPETES Act provides crucial support for STEM education—science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This is the vital base that must be supported for our country—our children and grandchildren—to compete internationally. America today leads the world in science and technology, but that lead is being challenged. In my judgment, substantial and ongoing investments in science research and education are needed or our lead will disappear and our economy and living standards will decline."
Mary Woolley, Research!America's president and CEO, noted, "In a recent poll we commissioned, 88% of Americans agreed that it is important for the federal government to support basic scientific research, and 97% said they think education and training in science, technology, engineering and math is important—74% said very important—to U.S. competitiveness and future economic prosperity. The American public is solidly behind this issue. It's time for Congress to get behind the America COMPETES Act."
Woolley added, "In the same poll, 87% said it is important for the U.S. to achieve the goal adopted by other countries of spending 3% of GDP on research and development. We need measures like making the R&D tax credit permanent to help us achieve this goal."
B. Lindsay Lowell of Georgetown Univerity also spoke by phone with USA TODAY about the report:
"It's easy to understand with the America COMPETES Act up for renewal why advocates would frame the situation this way. But it seems less helpful to frame things in a voice of crisis rather than a more reasoned response. Things aren't as bad as this report paints them.
The Task Force on the Future of American Innovation, "a coalition of businesses and business organizations, scientific societies, and higher education associations", did advocate for the Competes Act in its statement:
The Task Force on American Innovation urges the U.S. Senate to quickly reauthorize the America COMPETES (Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science) Act to ensure that the foundation for developing high-tech jobs is in place and that the U.S. remains competitive in the face of increased global competition.
The five-year review of the highly acclaimed Rising Above the Gathering Storm report, released today by the National Academies of Science, states that the nation's ability to compete for quality jobs in the global economy has deteriorated since the last report was issued. Meanwhile, nations in Europe and Asia have increased their efforts to compete with the U.S. by boosting their investments in research and science and math education.
The report asserts that, even in the face of budgetary challenges, the U.S. must make the necessary investments in science and innovation that have led to developments such as the Internet, MRI and Global Positioning System to keep the country on a path of sustained economic growth.
This task force, representing numerous industries, research universities and scientific societies, believes that reauthorizing the COMPETES Act is a crucial step toward achieving that goal. The bill provides the legislative blueprint to double investments for America's science research programs and expands math and science education – investments that are critically important to the nation's long-term prosperity and competitiveness. We urge Congress to act quickly.
By Dan Vergano

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