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Old February 5th, 2008 #1
Alex Linder
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 45,381
Blog Entries: 34
Alex Linder
Default Science Education, U.S. vs. World

Is America becoming a third-class nation?

C.E. "Bud" Brann

Staff Writer

I swear I often think the U.S. has stopped progressing and started regressing. I don’t think we just recently entered the 21st century, I suspect we have returned to 12th century or earlier. Our kids seem to be getting more ignorant by the day. There are four legs to this problem.

The first is education:

What do the following countries have in common? The Netherlands, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland Denmark Canada, New Zealand, Austria, Australia, Slovenia, France, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Russian Federation, Lithuania, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, China. Give up? Their children all score higher in science tests then American children.

What do South Africa and Cyprus have in common? They are the only countries our middle and high school students did beat in science testing. We are worse than all but two countries in the developed world.

But wait! It gets worse. In physics, once a field in which the U.S. was a powerhouse, we rank dead last. We were better than ... No one!

With the liberal feel good policies of the past few decades, we score higher than other countries in only one area ... self esteem. Yes, we have pushed the idea that no child should be faced with embarrassment. No child should be held back a grade no matter how poorly they do. No child should be punished for bad behavior. It might crush their little psyches.

So we have a situation where a child can totally disrupt a class, scream, yell, even hit teachers and other students and they must be treated with kid gloves. Meanwhile, the entire class suffers from these little terrors. A while back we witnessed the spectacle of a little girl in class out of control. She tore up things, she hit the teacher. She was so bad the police had to take over and handcuff her. Who got in trouble? The school and the police of course.

A second leg of the problem is related to the first. Our adult citizens are science ignorant.

A very large percentage of our population believes in psychics, which is a load of disproved nonsense, and our TV shows cater to these ignoramuses with Psychic Detectives and Psychic Animal trainers.

Another large percentage of people believe in ghosts, and a ton of TV shows cater to their ignorance. Even the Discovery channel and travel channel features haunted houses, and the like.

Then we have a regression in religion with fundamentalists reverting to 12th century thinking; fools who do not believe in evolution, but do believe in Intelligent Design and some who believe the universe to be only 6,000 years old. Even some presidential candidates are this ignorant.

There are more Americans who believe in angels than believe in evolution, yet evolution is virtually a proven fact and no one has ever seen an angel.

The third leg of the problem is government. We have a president who, because of his fundamentalist religious belief, is leading the charge into the 18th or 12th century.

Stem cell research, another science field and one which has great potential to cure some devastating diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and even enable people with severe spinal injuries, to walk again, and move their arms again, is crippled by this administration because they are science ignorant and religiously retarded. So we see countries like Korea beating our pants off in this field and in the field of cloning.

As physics was the science of the 20th century, biology is, or should be, the science of the 21st century, and it is being crippled by our government and our fundamentalist religious leaders. It used to be that small countries depended on scientific development and knowledge from the U.S. and the tremendous economies which flourished as a result of our preeminence in science. In the future, it is the U.S. that will depend on them and it is they who will have the growing, burgeoning economies as we drift into third world status.

Leading biological scientists are leaving their own country to move to places like England and Singapore where science is encouraged and appreciated, not condemned by the science ignorant.

This brings up the subject called “Brain Drain.”

A brain drain or human capital flight is an emigration of trained and talented individuals (“human capital”) to other nations or jurisdictions, due to conflicts, lack of opportunity, health hazards where they are living or other reasons. It parallels the term “capital flight” which refers to financial capital that is no longer invested in the country where its owner lived and earned it. Investment in higher education is lost when a trained individual leaves and does not return. Also, whatever social capital the individual has been a part of is reduced by his or her departure.

From WW II until now the brain drain has basically worked in the favor of the United States. Scientists first from Europe, later from Asia, made their way here. As far back as 1960, my own research group at the University of Kansas was over half Chinese and Korean students. You have probably noticed the large number of Indian and Pakistani Medical Doctors now in our country.

Now we see this trend starting to reverse:

From USA Today, 2.23.04:

“For its part, the federal government seems intent on letting “controversial” scientists — for example, those dealing with research that touches on the issue of abortion — go to other countries and keeping foreign talent out. U.S. companies are happy to outsource knowledge work while, at the same time, buying out the contracts of their most experienced workers — all in the name of reducing costs. And the one sure way to grow new brains — a high-quality educational system — has failed to produce enough homegrown talent.”

Between 1998 and 2002, the number of science and engineering doctoral degrees awarded to U.S. citizens at U.S. institutions fell 11.9 percent. . Between 1990 and 2000, the proportion of foreign-born people with Ph.D.s in the science and engineering labor force rose from 24 percent to 38 percent.

Even as American technological graduates decrease, foreign science and engineering graduates increase.

I have mentioned three legs of the problem, adults, education and government. The final leg is corporate America. As science education in the rest of the world is improving and increasing while ours is deteriorating and decreasing, it has become expedient to move technical jobs overseas. The fact that labor costs are lower sweetens the pot.

Additionally, science ignorant corporations pay more for people with MBA degrees than they pay for science PhD’s. A doctorate in physics or biology takes much longer and is much more difficult to obtain than an MBA and often pays much less. Americans aren’t stupid, (ignorant, probably, but not stupid.). If they can make $50,000 a year for a two year MBA, why work 5-10 years for a science PhD. to make $30,000?

That’s it, boys and girls. Education, ignorant adults, government and corporate America have teamed up to turn America into a third class nation. Of course it is ignorant adults who form our government, corporations and schools, so maybe there is only one problem.

As Pogo said; “We have met the enemy and it is us!”

Go consult your psychics about that. Maybe as our economy tanks they can give you winning lottery ticket numbers. Or get fundamentalist preachers to pray that your kids can get a job that pays better than flipping burgers.


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