EDUCATION GIVES INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITIES
When asked to write this article, I had an immediate inspiration perhaps best summarized by a quote from a 101-year-old lady named Claire Holm, who said, “A sage knows there is both the wisdom of the universe and a wisdom of man and finds a balance between the two.”
I was privileged and lucky to have attended college not only during one of the most socially progressive periods in recent times, but also scientifically inspiring. We landed a man on the moon, the atomic age was born, and computers first appeared on college campuses.
It was also during this heyday of such explosive scientific advances that C.P. Snow delivered to the British House of Commons his influential and much debated treatise on “Two Cultures.” During this lecture he focused on the burgeoning and dangerous divide that he perceived arising between scientists and literary intellectuals, and the very troubling consequences that such a schism presented. Half a century has passed since “Two Cultures” was first debated, and the gulf between scientific understanding and scientific illiteracy has only widened.
Today, one only has to listen to the nightly news and current politicians to hear the resurgence of this reoccurring rebellion against science, against objective knowledge.
This brings me to the need to stress the value of your science education at Chadwick. Do not succumb to anti-intellectual dialogue which praises minimal academic achievement as a valuable asset or a badge of honor to be worn proudly; be wary of those who are hostile and distrustful of scientific evidence even if they happen to speak with arrogantly loud voices as perhaps they are just arrogantly ignorant. Rather, fear of science is generally based on the inability of the protagonists to understand the wisdom of evidence based on honest observation.
As scientific knowledge continues to expand, this gulf between “understanders” and “non-understanders” will only continue to grow at an exacerbated rate. It is therefore crucial that each of you, as educated young adults, continue to embrace your responsibility to remain informed citizens.
This does not mean that every Chadwick student will attain a level of expertise in all areas of science, but rather you should understand enough science so that you are able to engage in intelligent and informed discussions on ethical questions, technology, and scientific concepts.
Listen to qualified scientists who attempt to translate complex scientific information into political decisions. Likewise, be wary of those who masquerade scientific claims as legitimate when such claims have not undergone careful scrutiny, or claims that have been deliberately contrived for either personal or commercial reasons.
Our nation and its citizens must learn to do a better job at marshaling its scientific resources into sound scientific policy.
Superficial science does little for the advancement of knowledge, progress of technology, or transcendence of political boundaries. And therefore, while scientific knowledge may not be essential for an individual’s personal economic success, it is an essential ingredient in the success of a modern democratic society. Countries and people that live within the walls of scientific illiteracy soon find themselves separated from an advancing world.
Therefore, I hope that as future Chadwick graduates, each of you will use your education as an engine to promote ideas based on fact and reason and not unsubstantiated rhetoric.
Your education has given you the opportunity to be both articulate and sensible in your approach to problem solving. Embrace debate with tolerance, vigor, truth, and intellectual strength of thought. Do not let ignorance trump knowledge, mediocrity trump excellence, or rhetoric trump truth.