A few days ago "witches" gathered in demonstrations all across the U.S. for the purpose of casting hexes on a president they don’t like in order to force him from office. Granted, no invitation was proffered to them from either major political party, but if pundits wished to make hay of such hare-brained behavior, the question of why such addled individuals should be drawn to one party as opposed to another is as germane as any.
Actually, though, the shambling about of people mumbling incantations in the central squares of major cities of the U.S. in 21st century America says more about the decline in what used to stand as the lowest nadir of senseless public conduct than about party affiliation. So those who constantly pat themselves on the back about their party being the "party of science" might wonder what in the world warlocks are doing standing next to them at their next party’s confab.
Witches and warlocks though aren’t the most ludicrous adherents to be found on the membership rolls of any political party. Unfortunately over the last few decades the same destructive influences that have pushed our schools from the best to close to the worst in the industrialized world have wrought havoc on the collective brainpower of the average individual as well — his or her politics notwithstanding. The country’s addiction to slap-happy trends in education — inventive spelling, core mathematics, et al — have seriously jeopardized an entire generation of students, many of whom have never been exposed to anything even resembling rigorous education. Those who doubt that might ask themselves how it is that a quarter of Americans are unaware that the Earth orbits the Sun.
Science and mathematics have suffered the worst in the brave new world of modern America where nothing difficult is deemed worth the effort and failure is seen as something outrageous, out of the norm, a relic from a regressive past.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation recently declared, for example, that 43 percent of all grades awarded at U.S. colleges and universities were A’s. What kind of scientists and engineers this sort of carefree curriculum should produce doesn’t seem to cause too much concern since this problem too — like so many others — is simply, and lazily, solved by outsourcing. It is the rest of the world that we Americans are to lean on now to do our calculations, to balance our equations, to formulate our future society, and that is happening even now. A quarter to a third of all bachelor’s degrees in engineering, computer science, statistics, and physics are awarded to sharp-minded foreign-born residents — while only 7.4 percent of native-born American citizens major in the sciences.
Americans are busy with other things though. When not casting hexes on presidents they’re investing time exploring the finer points of astral projection or pyramid power. It is we here in the U.S. that lead in the fields of cryptobiology, with thousands slogging through swamps and forests searching for sasquatches, chupacabras, lake monsters, and skunk apes. Americans might not know the difference between Maxwell’s equations and Maxwell’s Silver Hammer and may think that Ohm’s Law is something one does in a Buddhist temple, but our unique perspicacity is such that one in five people in the U.S. have seen a ghost, one in ten having spotted a UFO.
For either major political party in the United States to bill itself as the "party of science" is as insolent and insulting to the abysmal state of that discipline in this country as would be the impertinence of the American Vegan Society to declare which steakhouse in Texas is the best. If anyone wants to know how science and math are doing in America, or which president should finish his term or resign, everyone knows that the ones to ask are the vampires; they too are well-ensconced in our nation as well.
Maybe they’ll be taking the stage now that the witches have had their say?
David Nabhan is a science writer, the author of "Earthquake Prediction: Dawn of the New Seismology" (2017) and three previous books on earthquakes. Nabhan is also a science fiction writer ("Pilots of Borealis," 2015) and the author of many scores of newspaper and magazine op-eds. Nabhan has been featured on television and talk radio all over the world. His website is www.earthquakepredictors.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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