I earned my living as a chemist and professor, but always doubted my worth because I emphasized empirical truth so highly. Deep down, I knew that wisdom included other ways of knowing.


But recent events have shown me the very high value of science education, in fact, the vital nature of basic biology, chemistry and physics. We cannot just trust “gut feelings.”


I tolerated science illiterates when they had little influence. But to see someone who is among the most powerful in the world staring at a solar eclipse, claiming that windmills cause cancer and wondering aloud if ingesting disinfectants is good has caused me to redouble my advocacy for science literacy.


The current administration has generally cut funding for science education and research. It works to weaken healthy air and healthy water-quality standards. Funding for preventative medicine is lowered and offices that could have better prepared us for the current pandemic were reduced in scope and authority during the past three years. Just dig through recent budgets of the CDC to see the truth in those statements. I have.


Our country’s founders valued science and education; Thomas Jefferson is a key example. One half of his quotes preserved in bronze inside the Jefferson memorial are related to the value of an educated America. He also practiced science himself.


To my thinking, the best part of science is its self-correcting structure. Ideas are challenged, errors acknowledged and changes are made. Data is double checked, work is repeated and there’s a principled tolerance for alternative views. I wish I could see more of that from our current leadership.


Empirical knowledge needs more attention. I no longer harbor any doubt about the worth of science educators.


Donald Williams


Holland