Why is the United States' population scientifically illiterate? One reason is that our society measures intellectual sophistication by one's knowledge of the arts, history, philosophy, economics, politics, and language, but excuses ignorance of basic scientific facts--such as the difference between a molecule and an atom--and the central role that science has played in bringing about improvements in the quality of life and knowledge that produces objectivity of thought and freedom from superstitions.

Society often wrongly assumes that mastering the basic facts of the scientific method and the process of science is beyond many people's abilities. But science can be explained to and understood by nonscientists, and researchers should be capable of communicating so that nonscientist citizens can understand.

People also are wary of science because the image of researchers as conveyed by the entertainment media has contributed to the public's negative attitude about science. Television, movies, and even comic books...

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