‘Accessibility?’ Sure! But to what end?
From what I’ve seen, it seems to be en vogue lately to praise science blogs for making science uncomplicated and even entertaining, often with the annoying repetition of the words “layperson” and “accessible.” And it’s just as well, too, because our society is direly in need of something that’ll serve to increase its scientific literacy.
What’s interesting, though, is that our scientific illiteracy seems to be defined by some sort of doublethink—that is to say, we are all too willing either to decry or to embrace phenomena cloaked in scientific technobabble, depending on their social convenience. The language of science, for example, is our ally when we want to prove the inferiority of other races, but our enemy when the synthetic-sounding dihydrogen monoxide threatens to corrode our brakes and warm our globe.
We are too quick to ridicule the Catholic church for officially rejecting Copernican heliocentrism until the 1990s, when we, too, are willingly deceived by the all-too-convenient notion that men think about sex every seven seconds, or feel inspired to realize our full potential by accepting that humans only use ten percent of our brains.
But is this movement (epitomized, to be sure, by science blogs) a step in the right direction? Does it urge us to explore science in greater depth, or does it invite us to exploit the discipline for our own unscientific purposes? Should we lament that the “accessibility”of science has eluded us all this time, or was it this longing for some sort of no-strings-attached scientific acquaintance that led us to this dire state of affairs? HK (albeit in a very different context) asked us if we could trust scientists with science, but perhaps we should also be wary of trusting the citizenry with the same.