Monday, September 27, 2010

Born in the USA, part 6

There should be little doubt that America is the current world power. Bank crises and war debts aside, the US dominates the world both socially and politically.
I'm not saying this to be boastful. I'm saying it because it's important to my point.
Last night, I watched an episode of Horizon about the frontiers of science and the "death of God." After two minutes, it was already failing to live up to any standard its name might imply. The show - a clip show of older episodes of Horizon (some from the 1970's... I'm sure that science is up-to-date) - was narrated, not by a scientist, but by a science historian. I should have known to stop watching when the very first topic of discussion was Galileo.
But I soldiered on, determined to learn something from this otherwise useless show, but about twenty minutes in I hit a major snag. They were discussing the Scopes trial, the Dover lawsuit and the teaching of evolution in schools, but making no effort to show that these were exceptional cases; in fact, the narrator even made a comment implying that all American school children, for decades, have been taught nothing of evolution.
Now, I was there. I know this isn't true. I was an American schoolchild in past decades. I realize that there is still something lacking in the way we normally communicate the scientific subjects to students, but to blithely gloss over the whole of a nation with a derogatory statement like that - and you call yourselves the standard of news reporting! Shame on you!
But here's why I stated before that the US is a world power. Not to say "I told you so" to anyone who thinks our education system isn't good enough, but to point out that the rest of the world is interested in our education system simply because we are a world power, and they hear about it constantly. Everyone in the UK has seen US television. Most people with televisions around the world, or radios, have heard news from the US, because it propagates like wildfire. We're the popular kids, so rumors spread quickly. Would the BBC even think to make an entire hour-long program about the curriculum in schools in Romania or South Korea? No. The world is overly critical because the US is so much of what they see, and yet make sweeping (and usually incorrect) generalizations because all they see from the US is the exceptional cases. If you lived in Oman and all you saw of the US was episode after episode of Jersey Shore, you'd think the US was pretty... well... expletive deleted.
I can understand why the Horizon episode ended up as superficial as it did, but I do not excuse it. The BBC, bastion to what the idea of information dissemination should be, owes better to its viewers (the UK taxpayer, myself included at the moment). Americans are not all inbred, uneducated hicks, just as the British are not all Cockney chimney sweeps.


  1. Some Brits float around on umbrellas too.

  2. Or "brellies," as the case may be. ;-)


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