An Ignorance We Take for Granted
by Bernard Barber - 1959
In a recent informal talk before a Harvard University audience, the British novelist, scientist, and civil servant C. P. Snow, who is entitled to be known as Sir Charles Snow, deplored the ignorance of science that even many educated people in our society profess with no shame.1 2 It is an ignorance so common that we are likely to take it for granted as inevitable, though we have been stirred during the past year by Russian scientific successes to at least a little more educational effort, a little less complacency about this defect in our knowledge of the natural world. To illustrate his point Sir Charles asked his audience how many of them knew what the Second Law of Thermodynamics was. As you might know from asking yourselves the same question, he had an easy victory. For we expect—we even take it for granted—that educated people in our society will be ignorant of much of the fundamental knowledge of natural science.
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