CNN is disbanding its science division. This is unfortunate, because the science section is almost always one of my favorite parts of any news Web site (unsurprisingly).
Science journalism is what stands between the public and the abyss. Just as it’s easy for someone to vote down gay rights who doesn’t think they know any gays, it’s easier for someone to oppose funding for research—from any source, government or private—who literally doesn’t see any results. I’m much less likely to tell my representative to give money to some ivory-tower scientist than to a lab that’s producing results that are interesting or useful or both and telling me about them. It’s easy to drum up opposition to vague abstract “science,” to paint it as anti-religious or anti-American (which it is insofar as ideally the point is the facts themselves, not whether the facts are what you want them to be), when people don’t hear about anything but the big discoveries.
It’s also important for us to know this stuff. Bad Astronaut points out “[w]e depend on science and technology information every single day of our lives. People love it, and people need it.” Nonetheless, in the larger world people interested in science are seen as a little, well, different. Not quite trustworthy, perhaps, elitist snobs or Nazis manque or a bit soft.
This is not a good sign for America’s future.