“Through basic science literacy, people can understand the policy choices we need to be making. Scientists are not necessarily the greatest communicators, but science and communication is one of the fundamentals we need to address. People are interested.” -James Murdoch
Are you scientifically literate? Do you even know what that means? You’ll periodically see quizzes designed to assess some measure of science literacy, and they’ll usually focus on a slew of general knowledge questions, inevitably decrying what a large fraction of people don’t know. But is that a fair assessment of scientific literacy, or what it means to be scientifically literate? Highly doubtful.
The Apollo 1 prime crewmembers for the first manned Apollo Mission (204) prepare to enter their spacecraft inside the altitude chamber at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The Apollo program brought huge advances in technology to the entire world, independent of anything else we learned about space. Image credit: NASA.
At its core, scientific literacy isn’t about being able to answer questions about science correctly or to explain various phenomena, but about two things that most people generally don’t think about: having an awareness for what the enterprise of science is and having an appreciation for what scientific knowledge and discoveries do for humanity.