The Franklin Institute / Anti-Intellectualism

The Franklin Institute - Anti-Intellectualism

The Franklin Institute, named after Benjamin Franklin is a museum in Philadelphia. Founded in 1824, it is also one of the oldest science education and development centers in the United States. It moved to its current building in 1934. The Franklin Institute Science Museum host a series of traveling and permanent exhibits, including the largest collection of artifacts from the Wright brothers' workshop.

Benjamin Franklin was a noted polymath; a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. He invented the lightning rod and the glass harmonica, charted and codified the Atlantic Gulf Stream current which reduced travel between Britain and New York by two weeks, demonstrated that lightning was electrical, supported Huygens' wave theory of light when only a few other scientists did, noted a principle of refrigeration, and preceded economist Adam Smith's work "The Wealth of Nations" by nine years when he wrote a critique about the negative consequences of price controls, trade restrictions and subsidy of the poor.

The 20th Century is often characterized as the American Century. The seeds of science planted by Benjamin Franklin and other forefathers, bloomed during the 20th Century. By the end of World War II, American scientists had become superstars and interest in science boomed. Top scientists from Europe and from around the world immigrated to the United States, and science funding grew. However, by the end of the century, science was under attack by certain political and religious interests, resulting in a trend of anti-intellectualism. Scientist themselves were also to blame; efforts by the likes of Carl Sagan to popularize science were discouraged and even mocked by other elite scientists. Appreciation for science is fading in the public's mind.

American innovation, responsible for inventions such as electricity, the tabulating machine, air conditioning, the airplane, the supermarket, the condenser microphone, the electric guitar, digital computers and programming languages, fiberglass, supersonic flight, the industrial robot, the integrated circuit, the communications satellite, the lunar module, the digital camera and the Internet, is losing its prominence. If the current anti-intellectual trend is not reversed, it will not be long before others grab the lead. Just look at what happened to manufacturing. Creating an interest in science and science education is essential to the health of any nation.

The Franklin Institute

Song of the Day: A Glorious Dawn - Symphony of Science, Carl Sagan (2009)
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