Pew: Few Americans Fear the Loss of Their Local Newspaper
The struggles of the science beat at local newspapers have little or nothing to do with scientific illiteracy or public respect for science and much more to do with the economic climate and a more general and profound absence of public appreciation for the role of the press in civic life. Consider this stark finding from a just released Pew report: Less than a majority of Americans believe that the loss of their local newspaper would critically harm the health of their community.
So what's going on here? Science has been and remains the dominant force in American culture. Research shows that scientists are deeply trusted by the public, and they enjoy high levels of social status and prestige. On key policy issues, the American public believes that scientists have greater levels of expertise and should have more say in key policy debates than religious leaders, industry, or government officials. Over time, Americans have maintained an unchanging optimism in science to improve their quality of life and to grow the economy while public trust in other institutions including the media has plummeted.
So while the public deeply respects and even strongly defers to the cultural authority of science, they use this strong deference as the ultimate heuristic, replacing the motivation to seek out quality science coverage with blind trust on most science-related issues. Only on a few issues such as climate change, evolution, and stem cell research where rival groups tell the public that science is at odds with something else they care deeply about--such as religion or the economy--does broad based public deference and support for science break down. In short, in the U.S. the default for culture is a blind faith in science, rather than a war on science.
So where does the connection to local newspapers come in? Because Americans lack both an appreciation for the importance of news in local civic life and also often strongly prefer to just trust science--many do not realize that if our local news organizations fail, the very infrastructure of our communities grows considerably weaker. In other words, if communities lack a strong source of science and public affairs information tailored to local concerns, than these communities will not be able to adapt to challenges such as climate change or economic recovery. Indeed, their citizens will be ill equipped to participate meaningfully in collective decisions and policy choices.
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We take fewer mental pictures per second.
- Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
- In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
- The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
A consortium of scientists and engineers have proposed that the U.S. and Mexico build a series of guarded solar, wind, natural gas and desalination facilities along the entirety of the border.
- The proposal was recently presented to several U.S. members of Congress.
- The plan still calls for border security, considering all of the facilities along the border would be guarded and connected by physical barriers.
- It's undoubtedly an expensive and complicated proposal, but the team argues that border regions are ideal spots for wind and solar energy, and that they could use the jobs and fresh water the energy park would create.
It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?
- Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
- Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
- Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.
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