As nearly as I can see, the only secret in popularising science (or anything else) is remembering what thinking went on in your head when you first really understood whatever it is you're now explaining: especially (1) what misunderstandings needed to be cleared away, (2) what metaphors and analogies proved helpful, and (3) what reassurance had to be offered. The effort involved is slight, the benefits great. Among the potential pitfalls are oversimplification, the need to be sparing with qualifications (and quantifications), inadequate credit given to the many scientists involved, and insufficient distinctions drawn between helpful analogy and reality. Doubtless, compromises must be made.
The values of science and tha values of democracy are concordant, in many cases indistinguishable. Science confers power on anyone who takes the trouble to learn it. Science thrives on the free exchange of ideas; its values are antithetical to secrecy. Science holds to no special vantage points or privileged positions. Both science and democracy encourage unconventional opinions and vigorous debate. Both demand adeguate reason, coherent argument, rigorous standards of evidence and honesty. Science is a baloney detector, a way to call the bluff of those who only pretend to knowledge. The more widespread its language, rules, and methods, the better chance we have of preserving what Jefferson and his colleagues had in mind. But democracy can also be subverted more thoroughly with the tools of science than any pra-industrial demagogue ever dreamed
One of the reasons for its success is that science has built-in, self-correcting machinery at its very heart. It takes account of human fallibility. One of its commandments is, "Mistrust arguments from authority." Too many such arguments have turned out to be painfully wrong. Authorities must prove their contentions like anybody else. This independence of science, its unwillingness to pay automatic obeisance to conventional wisdom, makes it dangerous to doctrines less self- critical.
Because science carries us toward an understanding of how the world is, rather than how we would wish it to be, its findings may not in all cases be immediately comprehensible or satisfying. It may take a little work to restructure our mindsets. Some of science is very simple. When it gets complicated, that's usually because the world is complicated — or because we're complicated. When we shy away from it because it seems too difficult (or because we've been taught so poorly), we surrender the ability to take charge of our future. We're disenfranchised. Our self-confidence erodes.
But when we penetrate the barrier, when the findings and methods of science get through to us, when we understand and put this knowledge to use, many feel, if not wild exhilaration, at least deep satisfaction. This is true for everyone, but especially for children — born with a zest for knowledge, aware that they must live in a future molded by science, but so often convinced by their culture that science is not for them. I know personally, both from having science explained to me and from my attempts to explain it to others, how gratifying it is when we get it, when obscure terms suddenly take on meaning, when we grasp what all the fuss has been about, when wonders are revealed. We feel reassured: We're not so stupid after all. We can influence the decisions touching on science that will determine our future. And we're moved ~ because in its encounter with Nature, science invariably conveys reverence and awe.
I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time — when we're a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those In authority; when, clutching our crystals and religiously consulting the newspaper horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition.
We've arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements — transportation, communications, and all other industrias; agricultura, medicine, education, entertainment, and protecting the environment; and even the key democratic institution of voting — profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. We night get away with it for a while, but eventually this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.
figure out how to live with high technology, how to avoid nuclear war, then tehre are at this moment a million advanced civilizations in the Milky Way.
This place was built to help get us through this dangerous time. it would be good to know if there are other civilizations out there, if their United Nations have succeeded. it's something to think about when you stare up at the stars on a clear autumn night.
These two articles reflect some religious disquiet at the prospect of contact with ETI.
When faced with an alien civilization of enormous powers and the likelihood that they are not even approximately human, the differences that divide us on Earth are likely to seem increasingly trivial and irrelevant. At least for many people, Aere should be a real decline in ethnocentrism and xenophobia and a major upsurgence of an identification with the human species and the planet Earth. Warring tribes joining forces against a common enemy or even a possible common threat, has been a constant theme in human history. It ought to apply in spades in this case. Naturally nationalists, religious fundamentalists and chauvinists of various stripes will have a different view.
Might interstellar communication not be messages but music--perhaps a 600 part invention, each part on an adjacent frequency channel? If there were more conventional representation of frequencies for example, the full frequency range corresponding to the range between 1420 and 1667 megahertz would we have the wit to distinguish this music from noise. Other forms of such many-part interstellar musical inventions might exist which each A civilization provides one part. Might we be able to recognize this as music by the harmonies or are what we consider harmonious a mere function of our biology? Notice that there are phenomena from the atomic to the stellar and galactic where harmonies and resonances are marked. Maybe the more spectacular of these have large audiences visiting to watch. It would be interesting to transcribe to music the Rankin polarization plots for quasars, or the amplitude variations of pulsars and OH sources.
Imagine the history of the galaxy with respect to extraterrestrial intelligence. Very early there were only first generation stars, no heavy metals and therefore no possibility of life, much less intelligence. That's Stage One. In Stage Two planets with heavy metals form from the starstuff processed in the previous generation of stars, life arises and evolves, but It's quite some time before a technical intelligence developes. In Stage Three, radiotélescopes are invented, radio contact among various technical civilizations is established, and some interstellar spaceflight. In Stage Four, the Galaxy has been crisscrossed by intelligence many times; 1t 1s linked up spiral arm to spiral arm and becomes on some level a cultural unity in the same sense as is happening just now on Earth. There is a Stage Five and higher stages but they involve other galaxies and so on, and don't affect us here. Now, where in this sequence of stages is our Galaxy today? Is it in Stage Two or in Stage Three?
"I think we're deep in Stage Three," said the Nigerian.
I agree that a dreary comprehensive litany of who made what suggestion and which project official rejected it would be tedious (although me fact that the same idea arose in the minds of many different people - both in the science and the engineering teams - is worth noting), while at least some indication of the resistance to "nonscientific" data might be quite interesting. The battle is, of course, being played out again with regard to the two Galileo Earth encounters, where there was particular resistance to taking the motion picture of the Earth rotating in space, even though no such picture had ever before been available. In my mind the matter goes back to the very beginning of the space program when it was argued that there was no need for imaging systems on spacecraft because imaging systems neither posed nor answered crisply formulated scientific questions and were good only for something disdainfully dismissed as "PR". I think if we were to frame the discussion in this context, then do a little description of the necessary mission ops and a new representation of the data, we might have a piece very suitable for Science. If for any reason it were unsuitable for Science, I would opt next for Nature or Scientific American.
Ancient Taoist and Zen masters wrote about something called, "beginner's mind," or translated, the Japanese word shosin. In contemporary counseling the revolution taking place is finally catching onto their ancient message. Until around the 1990's a therapist was considered expert, authority, and guide until diverse voices challenged that position, including feminist thought, multiculturalism, person-centered thought, and an emerging preventive and wellness paradigm in healthcare. These challenges were based upon (supposedly) new ideas from social constructivism that said the traditional Western notions of "truth" were rigid, egocentric, and frankly, arrogant. It said the outdated model was erroneously based upon an "absolute truth" which was simply a false construct agreed upon by dominant social groups.
The way one practices beginner's mind is to empty oneself of all thoughts (if only that were possible!). This means empty of all preconceived judgments, labels, concepts, techniques, and methods. It is a main purpose of meditation - there is still nothing better than quiet stillness to wipe the mirror clean; to free the mind, and to bring space and clarity.