[extropy-chat] MYTH: Debunking popular myths about the US

Brent Neal brentn at freeshell.org
Fri May 27 00:16:33 UTC 2005

 (5/26/05 16:35) Mike Lorrey <mlorrey at yahoo.com> wrote:

>Myth #3:  Because the U.S. doesn't produce enough scientists and
>engineers, it has lost its edge in innovation.
>Fact:  It ranks first on the Innovation Index, which is a measure of
>human resources skills, market incentive structures and the interaction
>between the business and scientific sectors.  It also ranks first in
>the number of Nobel Prize winners in economics, medicine, physics and
>chemistry.  The first-place rankings are in spite of the U.S. ranking
>fifth in R&D spending as a percentage of GDP and dropping to 10th place
>on the Index of Economic Freedom.
>Myth #7:  The U.S. ranks low in educational achievement.
>Fact:  Only one nation, South Korea, ranks higher than the U.S. in the
>percentage of the population enrolled in post-secondary education, in
>spite of the U.S. having a large number of immigrants from third-world

While I'm sure these are technically false, they are materially true:  In regards to Myth 3, all of the "facts" used to "debunk" this are static - they don't count the trend towards lower and lower domestic enrollment in science and engineering disciplines that has been occuring over the past 5-10 years.  This may not be "common knowledge" amongst non-technical people like the author of this book, but it is has been studied ad nauseum by the ACS, APS, and AAAS.  In regards to Myth 7, the metric used to "debunk" it is utterly irrelevant. While our children are enrolled in school, their performance on reasonably objective tests of learning and reasoning place them well behind children of other First World countries.  Simply being in class doesn't guarantee learning takes place. For that, you need motivated students and competent teachers, which the US lacks sorely. 

Good thing the book is "essays for independent thinkers." Other people might not catch the BS in time. :)

Brent Neal
Geek of all Trades

"Specialization is for insects" -- Robert A. Heinlein

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