According to the United States National Center for Education Statistics,
“scientific literacy is the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity”.
A scientifically literate person is defined as one who has the capacity to:
+ understand experiment and reasoning as well as basic scientific facts and their meaning
+ ask, find, or determine answers to questions derived from curiosity about everyday experiences
+ describe, explain, and predict natural phenomena
+ read with understanding articles about science in the popular press and to
+ engage in social conversation about the validity of the conclusions
+ identify scientific issues underlying national and local decisions and express positions that are scientifically and technologically informed
+ evaluate the quality of scientific information on the basis of its source and the methods used to generate it
+ pose and evaluate arguments based on evidence and to apply conclusions from such arguments appropriately
As you can see from the thorough above definition, it’s important. It seems extremely obvious, I mean, why wouldn’t we all be scientifically literate or “passionately curious” enough to want to be scientifically literate? But therein lies the problem. America has become more anti-science via lack of political will and rampant government/corporate influence toward the imperative deciding factors which have undermined the true values of what it means to be human, stifling curiosity and replacing it with a controlled carrot-on-a-stick mentality to join the work force and throw away any pipe dreams simply to begin contributing to the immediate society.
We have known for quite a long time now that we aren’t the only society in existence. There are others elsewhere outside of America (shocker) and what we do here effects everyone, every living thing, on this planet. And because we are all codependent on this biosphere, it’s absolutely essential that we depart from the anthropocentric perspective, fueled by naivety, selfishness and willful ignorance which has us all backed into a corner, where the only options are evolve or perish, adapt or die.
The human population will die if they are not scientifically literate enough to not only include themselves in the conversation, but contribute to the fields of science necessary to (as Bill Nye would express) “change the world.”
No one’s going to change the world by working at a department store, becoming a bank teller or serving at a restaurant. I’m not knocking anyone’s hustle amidst their efforts to sustain their lives while working through school or what have you (I was a server for over 5 years and a cook for 1. I never want to go back), but ultimately no one wants to do that for the rest of their lives and right now, the educational system in this country, along with the economy, has failed.
Science literacy encompasses more than the smorgasbord of scientific/technological fields. It’s the promotion of critical thinking, skepticism, experimentation, trial and error, application of the scientific method and the excitement injected into every second, minute, hour and day of ones life by staying curious.