Science Literacy

I was reading through some blogs this weekend and came across two unrelated blogs that discussed the same topic: literacy; specifically, science and health literacy.

The first, entitled, “40% of Indian Women Are Ignorant of AIDS” from Retrospectacle, made a nice tie-in from the press release to literacy in India.

“Disturbing, but not really surprising considering only 54 percent of Indian women are literate (compared to 76 percent of men). Actually the literacy rate seems to play a huge part in the disinformation: 80% of Indian men are familiar with AIDS (76% literacy rate) and 56% of Indian women are (54% literacy rate).”
The second post I noted was from Scientific American, describing the growth of science literacy in the US. “Americans more science-literate than Japanese, Europeans,” points out the following:

“In 1988 only about 10 percent knew enough about science to understand reports in major newspapers, a figure that grew to 28 percent by 2005.
So, this suggests that 72% of Americans can’t understand what they’re reading in health and science media reports. Striking, no?
The fact that so many Americans are missing vital information could account a great deal towards the cost of health care in the US today. How can an Indian women who is ignorant about AIDS protect herself from acquiring it? How can an unhealthy young adult make changes to their lifestyle if they’re unable to understand what changes to make. It doesn’t help that on top of poor understanding of science, Americans are being overwhelmed by over-simplified advertising from both food and drug companies.
I will suggest that perhaps health care reform should not begin with tax credits, but rather through a literacy campaign. There is tremendous room for improvement.

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