Seed Magazine recently posted the winners in their 2nd annual writing contest. This year’s question was, “What does it mean to be scientifically literate in the 21st century?” It’s interesting that both the first and second place winners make essentially the same point–being scientifically literate has nothing to do with having an encyclopaedic knowledge of scientific literature.

More important is the ability to read, and interpret new pieces of information and a willingness to discard previously held beliefs as more is known. Given that we live in an era where politicians are ridiculed as “flip-floppers” if they ever change their opinion, and a number of current presidential candidates are resolutely stating their disbelief in the well-proven natural history of the planet, it’s striking that the principles we scientists base our lives on are being pushed further and further from the mainstream.

Contest winner
Scientific Literacy and the Habit of Discourse

Runner Up
Camelot is Only a Model: Scientific Literacy in the 21st Century

(links via BoingBoing)