Even while demanding improvements in science education because of a deplorable lack of scientific literacy, advocates do not agree about what they mean. "Scientific literacy" has become a buzz phrase to capture different things, a confusion that is useful at times because it allows people to think they agree when they really do not. Yet, hiding disagreements also keeps us from understanding how we might make things better. This commentary explores the most common meanings and distinguishes scientific literacy - or the democratic having of creative, scientific "habits of mind" by everybody - from science literacy - or the having of particular scientific knowledge by trained experts. Both are important, and we must not lose track of the more difficult and long-term goal of achieving scientific literacy for everybody in the urgency of producing short-term results in the form of scientific knowledge by the few.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science