IMPORTANCE OF SCIENCE FOR NON-SCIENCE PEOPLE
Science and allied streams have always been trailblazers for defining the pursuit of curiosity and inquisitiveness. Since early times it has held the baton of addressing the What, Why and How for various challenges and issues. As humans moved further and defined their academic pursuits based on their passions, it clearly created the divide between science and non-science people which had its advantages of last few centuries witnessing unprecedented growth in diverse domains of lifestyles.
Science, hence, is valued by society because the application of scientific knowledge
helps to satisfy many basic human needs and improve living standards. Finding a cure for
cancer and a clean form of energy are just two topical examples. Similarly, science is often
justified to the public as driving economic growth, which is seen as a return-on-
investment for public funding. During the past few decades, however, another goal of
science has emerged: to find a way to rationally use natural resources to guarantee their
continuity and the continuity of humanity itself; an endeavour that is currently referred
to as “sustainability”
“More than ever, people need some understanding of science, whether they are involved in decision-making at a national or local level, in managing industrial companies, in skilled or semi-skilled employment, in voting as private citizens or in making a wide range of personal decisions.”
The only way to ensure that people understand science is to communicate it in a way that enables them to absorb it easily and comprehend how it impacts them. The Royal Society’s document clearly indicates that the need for science communication and the benefits it can bring to society had already been identified as early as 1985! 22 years down the line, how much have we achieved in this direction?
However, there is another application of science that has been largely ignored, but
that has enormous potential to address the challenges facing humanity in the present day
education. It is time to seriously consider how science and research can contribute to
education at all levels of society; not just to engage more people in research and teach
them about scientific knowledge, but crucially to provide them with a basic
understanding of how science has shaped the world and human civilisation. Education
could become the most important application of science in the next decades.
More and better education of citizens would also enable informed debate and
decision-making about the fair and sustainable application of new technologies, which
would help to address problems such as social inequality and the misuse of scientific
discoveries. For example, an individual might perceive an increase in welfare and life
expectancy as a positive goal and would not consider the current problems of inequality
relating to food supply and health resources.
Moreover, science has demonstrated that it is a supreme mechanism to explain
the world, to solve problems and to fulfil human needs. A fundamental condition of
science is its dynamic nature: the constant revision and re-evaluation of the existing
knowledge. Every scientific theory is always under scrutiny and questioned whenever
new evidence seems to challenge its validity. No other knowledge system has
demonstrated this capacity, and even, the defenders of faith-based systems are common
users of medical services and technological facilities that have emerged from scientific
It becomes imperative to stop segregating science into disciplines at school. In an
age of inter-disciplinarity, studying physics, biology, and chemistry as supposedly
separate subjects could be seen as an anachronism even for those going on to become
scientists. But it’s perhaps even less helpful for those who we simply want to be members
of a scientifically literate society; might a better route be having young people look at the
science of, say, climate change, alongside its historical, geographic, and political
STEM plays a central role in today’s controversies and policy-making. In order to
effectively inform the public about matters that are contingent on science, research has
to leave the lab. Science needs to be seen as an exciting, evolving, and interactive part of
our society, not an exalted profession led solely by modern-day sages. The purpose,
direction, ethics, and sustainability of science and innovation have to be defined by
society as a whole.
Looking at the current challenge people all around the globe are dealing with due
to this pandemic, here is hoping that it would take much less than a covid-19 to arouse
the interest of common man towards science and its findings or even questions
pertaining to its sanctity.