Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Is America Flunking Science?

Two weeks ago I read this very amusing article in TIME

''Are We Losing Our Edge?'',10987,1156575,00.html

which roughly states that science in the US is getting worse. Some attempts were made to analyze the issue which didn't lead anywhere. E.g. the political situation is completely underestimated. I know lots of people who leave the US because they simply don't want their children to grow up in a country like this. After a rought count, I found that I know about 40 people who went for research from Europe to the US. Only one stayed longer than 10 years.

The reason why I bought the magazine at all was that I found the amount of self-criticism astonishing for US citizens! But maybe not surprisingly, the statement that America is 'flunking science' (for the Germans: flunking means 'durchfallen') could not be left standing alone. Therefore the article is followed by the comment

Don't Believe the Hype. We're Still No. 1
What the doomsayers don't say: America is a marvel of creativity,10987,1156589,00.html

where it was basically stated that no other country is as great as the US. I absolutely love this comment:

[...] the U.S. leads the world by an immense margin in just about every measure of intellectual and technological achievement[...]

America is heartily disdained by its coddled and controlled European cousins for its cowboy capitalism[...]

I suspect most Europeans would pity America for its cowboy capitalism, as well as for this statement.

Anyway, I wrote a letter to this article. Which naturally was not printed. When I find it, I post it sometime. Best,


1 comment:

stefan said...

That's an interesting subject! Maybe I will get a chance some time to read these TIME pieces, the text available online is quite short - and your letter to the magazine interests me, too!

I think one should never take for granted that scientific or technological achievements will just endure, unless there are constant efforts and a genuine interest in science and technology in the society as a whole. I mean, marketing slogans alone won't do the job. And there are those famous engineers and scientists graduating in China and India. As far as I know, they already now outnumber their collegues in the US and the EU.

By the way, there is an interesting book by some Italian Lucio Russo, The Forgotten Revolution, where he argues that ancient Hellenistic Greek science was much more advanced than is usually thought, and that all this knowledge was completely lost. I find this quite depressing!