Friday, April 26, 2013

PZ's Wonderful Exam Question

PZ Myers has just given his students a take-home exam. Here's one of the questions [It’s another exam day! ] ...

Question 1: One of Sarah Palin’s notorious gaffes was her dismissal of “fruit fly research” — she thought it was absurd that the government actually funded science on flies. How would you explain to a congressman that basic research is important? I’m going to put two constraints on your answer: 1) It has to be comprehensible to Michele Bachmann, and 2) don’t take the shortcut of promising that which you may not deliver. That is, no “maybe it will cure cancer!” claims, but focus instead on why we should appreciate deeper knowledge of biology.
That first restriction is going to make answering the question a real challenge 'cause you have to take into account the mentality of someone who is not just scientifically illiterate but scientifically anti-literate.

Nevertheless, this is exactly the sort of thing you want your science graduates to know.