America is Naturally Anti-Science

In the end, politics is about story. Robert McKee, Hollywood's master of storytelling, views the world from the top of America's other great cultural export—its movies.

"1 think that the American ethos is not science-friendly and never has been," he says. "The American model is Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Guys who never went to college and who were geniuses and invented things, and people like them. The inventor versus the scientist. Somebody who can go west, discover gold mines, and create a lot of money without an education. Unlike Europe or Japan or India, or even China these days. In those cultures they admire and compete to be a really well educated person in some field. That is not the American dream. The American dream is Hollywood, sitting in a drugstore and somebody says, 'You ought to be a movie star.' It's an attitude that life a game and that what you gotta learn is to play that game well, but it's not on a gridiron where you actually have to practice, it's a game of manipulation and most of that game is somehow bullshit."

If McKee and Tocqueville are right, the influx of European scientist: starting in the 1930s and continuing through World War II may hare changed the United States and led to a temporary boom. America ma^ be coasting to the end of that momentum now. The importing of such talent declined sharply in the wake of 9/11. We have made the country more difficult and less hospitable for immigrants, closing those door; Ronald Reagan saw standing open to anyone with the will and th( heart to get here. And now science, like our corporations, is going global, and the last great engine of the American economy—our ability to innovate—may be slipping from our grasp

So we are faced with a choice. Will we go the way of the ancient Chinese, nosing our heads comfortably into the warm sand, obedient, productive agreeably alike in thought, but rigid, paralyzed, no longer able to improve*

Or will we take up the mantle of freedom and leadership that science gave us—the commitment to knowledge over the assertions of "but faith, or opinion" that led to the disquieting idea of equality that is the foundation of democracy? Will we be skeptical of claims that seek to crowd out the space for knowledge in the public dialogue? Will we continue to embrace the antiauthoritarian power of wonder, tolerance, and imagination to create a new future—a shining city upon a hill? Will we reject ideological conformity and reward a facts-based press and science education? Will we set aside the left-right skirmishes of identity politics and focus as our founders did on the top-bottom battle for freedom? Will we protect and fund the conditions that encourage diversity, creativity, and prosperity in art and science, not because of what they do for our pocketbooks but because o what they mean to our values as Americans? Will the people, in short, remain well enough informed to be trusted with their own government?

In a century dominated by the awesome powers and dangers of science. there is no greater moral, economic, or political question.


Science is hard work, America is about the dream of Hollywood. We are living on the benefits of science, but will those innovations become cultural rituals if we won't do what we need to do to promote science and education?

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World War II (0.930205): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Ronald Reagan (0.737998): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
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James Truslow Adams (0.696240): dbpedia | freebase | yago
American Dream (0.675996): dbpedia | freebase
Robert McKee (0.673358): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Game (0.671376): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Thomas Edison (0.664302): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago

 Fool Me Twice
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Otto , Shawn Lawrence (2011-10-11), Fool Me Twice, Rodale Press, Retrieved on 2013-01-08
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: politics science


    28 MAR 2011

     American Anti-Intellectualism

    Examples of prejudice against nerds in America.