Everyone should take six minutes out of their day and watch this video of Neil DeGrasse Tyson speaking on the importance of science literacy at the World Science Festival. (I was pointed to this by Uncertain Principles.)
Here are some highlights I found interesting:
First: Avoiding Self Delusion.
Science literacy empowers you to know when someone is basically full of it...If you understand how the world works, and what the limitations are, then you can judge if someone is trying to exploit your... ignorance.He gives an example of someone trying to sell you crystals with amazing healing powers. He argues if you have good science literacy you will know you need to have answered questions such as: "How do they work? What kinds of ailments do they cure?... How have you tested them?" etc...
Unfortunately, poor scientific literacy may lead to a society that is easily duped and/or will form opinons based on bad ideas. Those with good science literacy realize the importance for backing up claims, an incredibly important trait as "we as a species are particularly susceptible to self-delusion".
Furthermore, knowing how to test claims should be absolutely crucial for wall street, governments, manufactures and society itself to make correct decisions.
Second: Scientists Understand Liberal Arts, But Often Liberal Artists Don't Understand Science.
Scientists by and large are often quite knowledgeable in areas outside of science. If you go to the home of most scientists there will be Bach and Beethoven and Shakespeare on the selves...
One thing I think that as a nation we should be embarrassed by is that the scientists-- you can do this experiment yourself, I've done the experiment-- the scientists, by and large, know more liberal arts than the science that is known by liberal artists."He then discusses how at a cocktail party of scientists you will never hear them laugh how they never understood how to read Shakespeare or couldn't understand basic nouns and verbs. However, if you go to a party full of people interested in liberal arts, they have no problem laughing about how they never understood the first thing about math. Tyson wonders why this causes no embarrasement.
Or as said on Uncertain Princpiles linked above:
It should be exactly as embarrassing in educated company to say "I'm no good at math" as it would be to say "I'm no good at reading."I'm biased but I think there is a point to be made here.