Professional Cassandras who foresee the end of the United States' scientific preeminence read doom in the stars, doom in the schools, and doom, especially, in the minds of young people. Reputable experts debate whether declining enrollments will lead to drastic shortages of Ph.D.'s in the 21st century, a prelude to America's scientific downfall. Some point to ominous, but by now shop-worn, roadsigns of national decline. These include anything from falling achievement test scores to the rise in numbers of foreign nationals taking scientific and engineering degrees. A more telling barometer of our anxiety is the murmurings--sometimes open, sometimes covert--that American students today are just not "prepared" the way they used to be. In many instances, "prepared" is a euphemism for "bright." In practically every college-level science class I've attended over the last two years (I returned to school to complete premedical studies, having graduated from the University of Michigan 17...
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