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LETTER: COVID-19 pandemic shows the need for scientific literacy

To practice philosophy, and also science, is to follow the question wherever it leads

To the Editor,

Re: COVID-19 taught us we can act now on climate change measures, Letters, June 10, 2020

I want to thank Chris Alemany for an important letter.

The COVID-19 and climate crises demonstrate that scientific literacy is critical to a nation’s well-being. According to Arizona State University science professor Thomas Martin:

“In the present cultural climate, altering one’s beliefs in response to anything (facts included) is considered a sign of weakness. Students must be convinced that changing one’s mind in light of the evidence is not weakness: Changing one’s mind is the essence of intellectual growth…The responsibility for fostering scientific literacy of this sort—that is, literacy construed as an ongoing commitment to evidence over preconception—falls upon all of us in our discussions both formal and informal, both public and private.”

Observing the bias and animosity common in political debate, the late Irish philosopher John O’Donohue stated that we need more legislators, media, etc. who are not already loyal to one side or the other. It has been said that to practice philosophy, and also science, is to follow the question wherever it leads. This was the important loyalty for O’Donohue, which he called “loyalty to the voyage of the question.”

Let’s hold ourselves and others to higher standards of truth-seeking.

Terry Hansen,

Hales Corners, Wisconsin, USA

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