In the perspective of this web site, the universal adoption of rationalism is pre-requisite to both the survival and the flourishing of the human species. And one of the pillars of rationalism is science (the other is mathematics).
The global decay of society owing to corporate capitalism, and the climate vandalism crises have made this apparent for decades now, but with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic it has now become inarguable that the human race can no longer afford to accommodate "leaders", such as Donald Trump, who are simply incapable of comprehending the elements of rationalism, let alone of acting responsibly in light of them.
While science has a reputation for being abstruse, nothing is more relevant to our everyday concerns.
The triumvirate of concerns identified above have their roots in three related factors.
First, the average individual today remains largely scientifically illiterate, and is thus easily led astray when it comes to issues like climate vandalism. Second, there exists a type of individual who is not only scientifically illiterate himself, but who is actively opposed to the propagation of literacy from the twin motives of greed and power hunger. Thirdly, scientific literacy is only one aspect of a more robust rationalism, which also includes logic, mathematics, and philosophy, particularly the discipline of ethics.
The successful functioning of democracy demands a populace fully literate in all aspects of rationalism. Now more than ever, steering ourselves into the future requires good judgment - and good judgment requires both clear reasoning and a foundation in the accurate understanding of the facts. Thus, there is a sense in which democracy, and even survival itself demands that we raise our level of awareness of basic physical principles.
Not only would greater public understanding of science make for better energy policy, it would also, indirectly, make for better medical policy. The most fundamental of all diseases, though it still largely goes unrecognized as such by the medical establishment, is the aging process itself.
More abstractly, basic physical principles do much to shape our understanding of the nature of reality, including many aspects of human reality. Thus, even physics and chemistry provide part of the comprehensive orientation to reality that human beings have long, and rightly, sought.
We suggest that readers interested in learning more concerning science begin with a rather old introduction to physics, which has, however, dated remarkably well: The Elements and Structure of the Physical Sciences, by Julien A. Ripley, Jr.
Why this one, exactly, even in the face of many, more recent competitors? Well, primarily because of its orientation (and, beside, the elements of the physical sciences haven't changed all that much in the intervening years). Here's what Julien himself had to say about that: "[The book] is primarily an exposition of the major concepts and theories of physical science, covering both their logical structure and the empirical evidence validating that structure. It is, additionally, an attempt to set these ideas into a broad historical and philosophical context. The understanding of science and its relation to our culture requires much more than the mastery of scattered principles, a few theories, an assortment of facts, and a handful of formulas into which the facts are fitted."
We couldn't have said it better, and we do not know of another introduction of physics that brings these indispensable concerns (or the prerequisite knowledge base) to the table.
The new Everything Progressive field guide can be found here.
The Editor / Everything Progressive