How Science makes us Smarter

Feeling Rotten, Part 3


Science makes us smarter

I mourn the loss of integrity when shenanigans from high-ranking folks we elected make headlines.

What happened to grace and goodness?

I’m embarrassed to learn that Republicans voted to gut ethics standards from our nation’s core governing bodies.

And they made the decision behind closed doors, in the evening hours, on a holiday, in secret.

After receiving thousands of phone calls from citizens upset over their cloaked behavior, the Republicans backed off.

Their actions beg the question: why would you want to eliminate ethics standards?

Or health care?

Or science?

How, in all that we collectively hold dear, could these possibly be seen as threats?

When I learned that our nation’s children score poorly on science and math compared to all other countries, I wondered about the connection between poor scores and politics.

In concrete terms, our science-and-math grade would be an F compared to other nations’.

The secretive Republican actions this week show a hard line between choices:

Choices are good or evil, black or white.

There is little gray area in gray matter-decision-making.

Seems the elected folks who voted behind closed doors see ethics as present or absent.

We either honor integrity or we don’t.

We either provide citizens with health care or we don’t.

We believe in the science of climate change or we don’t.

Science teaches us about the subtleties and complexities of our natural and social worlds.

Just look at headlines that fret over aging, for example: how can we stave off sagging skin and dementia?

While flim-flammers look for quick fixes with anti-aging cures, scientists note that aging is complicated and messy.

There is no quick fix or simple cure.

And eliminating an ethics watchdog department won’t eliminate poor judgment.

With ethics, integrity, truth and honesty, our decision-making gets hampered because life is sticky and thick.

And we need scientific thinking and a clear eye to discern the subtleties—the gray areas of living in a political world.

So: what some lawmakers seem to lack is the scientific and intellectual acumen necessary to dig into the gray areas of life: the need to examine with passion the intricacies of living in communities where safety, health and joy loom critical.

And it’s not just science and math.

Learning about arts and literature and music and language and communication fuel our brains, giving us skills to go beyond the Manichean simplicity of black-and-white.

Our lawmakers would serve voters best by learning about the rich complexities of their worlds instead of making decisions that divide us into groups of right and wrong.

6 January 2017

Photo from the Blog, It’s OK to be Smart 














About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, ethics, native press, Native Science, politics, science, science communication and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How Science makes us Smarter

  1. I have not seen such an anti-science mentality during my lifetimes. Just boggling.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it’s part of non-thinking critically


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