Remember how difficult was it for a large segment of the world’s population to believe in the idea of climate change, despite hardcore scientific evidence? Well, the situation is quite similar today, as 16 percent of the public in the US continues to rubbish it. In spite of climate change becoming an existential crisis, 63 percent of the Americans rarely or never discuss it with their peers. Let’s take another incident as an example to demonstrate how people have been rubbishing science in recent times. We all know how the lethal pandemic coronavirus is spreading like wildfire in every big economy that we know today. And in spite of the clear instructions, by doctors, scientists and lawmakers around the world, given for social distancing, people continue to go out. Students continued to party around beaches, while rest couldn’t stop visiting restaurants and traveling to places amidst the pandemic. But people have finally started taking social distancing more seriously and are finally quarantining in their homes.
But, despite this, history is full of situations where people have denounced science only to carry on with their ignorance in their daily lives. Even though people continue to feel no difference, this misunderstanding of science and willingness to believe in scientific misinformation is hampering the welfare of people in several ways. Even if this was just constrained to people, humanity could have somehow survived with this gap of information. Unfortunately, the incomprehension and idiocy of people affect the implementation of welfare policies.
The only way out of this is to embrace the concept of ‘science citizens. A lot of people who just read the last statement would confuse science citizens with citizen scientists. And it’s natural because we all have that bias innately inherent in our brains where we swap words in a language and expect them to mean the same. However, when it comes to citizen scientists, the definition has an altogether different meaning to impart. Citizen scientists are a quintessential part of the science’s human infrastructure and contribute towards essential scientific theories and research. In other words, they help researchers collect data and directly contribute to the work of scientists and the field of science.
Now, let’s come to understand the crystal clear role that science citizens play. When we talk of science citizens, we target those people who have no intention of contributing directly to science. This would include a majority of the population of a country, who would be educated sufficiently enough so that they can understand and process scientific information. Once citizens start understanding the value and determination behind a scientific subject, they would be expected to form reasonable opinions based on it and support and analyze whatever happens in the society, including critical decisions by the government.
While every science citizen will not reach the same conclusion, they would be at least expected to apply scientific reasoning to come to conclusions that are driven by hardcore science and not by the frenzied appeal of sensationalized journalism of the world. Science is much more than a subject. It is a way of life and drives every part of our existence. And this is why it is too shallow to only leave it to the more educated scientific brains of the world. Maybe the world doesn’t need science citizens, but societies, economies, communities, and a person themselves need science for an informed and rational life.