Imagine a world where people quake in fear when they see a shooting star, a solar eclipse, or hear thunder. Imagine creating supernatural stories to explain these natural phenomena, or believing that they required a sacrifice or blood-letting to appease the malevolent god that was causing them. We know that this world once existed and we know that it was science that freed us from these false beliefs.
In order to change the world for the better, we first need to understand how it works – otherwise our efforts are almost certain to fail. Science is the field of human endeavor that is completely dedicated to understanding (at every level) the universe we inhabit.
While the scientists among us are responsible for the investigations, hypotheses, testing, and presentation of new ideas, it is the ordinary “person on the street” who must trust in their work and make the leap to the new way of viewing the world. To do this, we must all have a basic understanding of how to distinguish real science from the pseudo-science that fills our newsfeeds.
“We’ve arranged society based on science and technology, in which nobody understands anything about science and technology. And this combustible mixture of ignorance and power, sooner or later, is going to blow up in our faces. Who is running the science and technology in a democracy if the people don’t know anything about it?“Carl Sagan
While we do not expect most people to understand the latest in theoretical physics, one needs a foundational understanding of scientific principles to tell the difference between novel applications of knowledge and con artists exploiting ignorance to peddle lies. CFIC strives to provide all Canadians the scientific literacy required to critically evaluate scientific information they receive.
CFIC does this by:
- Creating and promoting our quick guide “Is it science?”
- Reminding our readers that not all journals are legitimate and peer reviewed (see Research Before you Research – Predatory Journals)
- Helping readers to understand the difference between legitimate, early but unproven distribution of scientific hypotheses and predatory distribution of conspiracy theories (see Science Takes Time)
- Bringing you Podcast for Inquiry episodes (on topics such as fusion, microbes, gardening, and more), Critical Links articles (such as Science Resources; and The Cost of Bad Science) and other programs (such as How to Talk to Science Deniers) that increase the scientific literacy of our members
“Science – not an answer in and of itself, rather, a mechanism to help one find answers – is under attack for legitimacy. The crisis of expertise is upon us. Scientific processes have discovered this will not correct overnight, and requires serial nudging. Patience and persistence are needed, so we’ve not a moment to spare.”Zack Dumont
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Science matters – not just in the laboratory, but in the real world. To be effective, we must all think critically about science, understand what the current state of science can and cannot accomplish, and reject pseudo science.
If science matters to you, please donate to CFIC.