Retroviruses, engineering and the future of science  pg. 5

How do we encourage more young people to go into the sciences?

Baltimore: We need more mothers like my mother! I really don’t know the answer because it involves our whole society, the way it functions and what it honors.

Developing the capabilities to be a scientist is very hard, because it involves learning a lot of mathematics and science, generally when you’re very young.

We don’t have a society that honors people who work hard. We have a society that honors people who play hard, that is great athletes or great entertainers. But the people who are really driving our society are anonymous. They are the scientists and engineers who are making the discoveries and devising the gadgets that make our lives easier and better.

Varmus: For our society probably a more fundamental issue is: how do we make citizens who are more capable of thinking in an evidence-based way? That actually is one of the biggest problems we face as a country, that we don’t teach people to do that, yet we could.

We could be giving virtually all of our instruction in grade school in a way that emphasizes experiment (and) observation … as opposed to rote and ritual. We’d have a more informed electorate. An awful lot of political issues these days are based on questions that have scientific component.

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