This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
It was "Marty Stouffer's Wild America" on PBS that gave me that spark of wonder about the natural world. As a child, I took that excitement of watching that soaring eagle or that antelope running out of control into my own urban backyard and to the ants and slugs I could find there. It was then "Bill Nye the Science Guy" who showed me how you can take that wonder and turn it into a question. And how to take that question and find an answer.
I also had the privilege of a public school system with teachers that continued to refine my wonder about the natural world. I remember learning about molds and deciding I should do my own experiment. I promptly went home and dumped a bunch of weird stuff into a mayonnaise jar (mayo included) and let it rot on a window sill to see what happens. What happens is your mom rolls her eyes throws away the jar upon discovery.
I am indebted to these influences; publicly funded schools, publicly funded educational programming and a society that encourages and funds discovery. These gave me the tools to take my wonder, create questions and find answers. This is science.
I began to wonder about how the mind works so I ultimately turned my questions to the brain and I am a professor of psychology here in Salt Lake City.
But this is not about me. It's about your kids and their wonder. It's about you and your questions. It's about all of us and the answers we seek. Through federal funding and the protection of free inquiry, we have built our modern world. To protect our sense of wonder and discovery, we must stand up and defend science.
Scientific discovery may be unexpected, inconvenient, hard to swallow even. Science does not create these discoveries, it simply shows us the reality we live in. We cannot put our heads in the sand and deny reality. Like how ostriches don't really do that sand thing. (I know, hard to swallow.) We cannot unlearn all these facts we have learned, but with continued support we can find the answers to our great problems; from homelessness to air pollution to global warming.
There is hope. Science also gives us the tools to fix great problems. Without the federal funding of research and the protection of free and objective inquiry, doors will close and we will never find the answers and get the solutions we need. Without the preservation of educational programming and public schools that promotes free inquiry, your child playing in the backyard right now may never take that wonder, ask a question and find an answer to society's next great problem.
So join us on April 22 for the March for Science taking place across the country. A million people and 400 sister marches will collectively voice the need for protection of the free inquiry and discovery that gave us our great modern society, and can help save our great planet. There are five sister marches throughout Utah; in Salt Lake City, St. George, Moab, Park City and Logan. Go to http://www.marchforscienceslc.com for information about these marches.
Justice Morath is an assistant professor of psychology at Salt Lake Community College and associate director of the Community Writing Center. He hopes for more ski seasons like we just had for years to come and knows that we must find answers to our great problems to make that happen.