We're All Geeks - Embedded.com

We’re All Geeks

A study by Imaginovasuggests that more Americans are geeks – or, at least, to some extentemulate geekdom – than one might think. They claim 40% of 18 to 54 yearolds are “intellectually curious” about science.

Though they didn't publish the numbers, the company's press releasequalitatively claims most of these scientifically curious people arehighly educated, high income people. That's puzzling, as combining that”fact” with the 40% number suggests that an awfully big percentage ofthe American 18 to 54 age group make a ton of money. How many teenagersdo you know who aren't working near minimum wage? How many 18 year oldsare “highly educated?”

Surveys are perilous instruments whose results often reflect thebias of the researchers. I can remember in high school filling outquestionnaires designed to elicit information on teenaged sexual habitsand claiming the most outrageous behaviors in an immature attempt toskew the results. Today when we see some pundit on the news sternlywarning us about the deterioration of kids' morals I can't help butwonder exactly how they accumulated the data, and if kids today stilllike to play with the process.

So I figure the data from this latest survey is interesting butpossibly suspect. Still, if the results hold any truth, it'sencouraging. Other studies are all doom and gloom about the prospectsof science in this country. One is left with the feeling that thedearth of scientists will leave the US a technological backwater in theyears to come. We're faced with a series of problems that, assumingpolitical will can ever be mustered, will only be solved by theapplication of plenty of science and engineering.

If 40% of us figure science is cool and interesting there's plentyof hope. If these folks, many of whom probably don't hold jobs in thesciences, just encourage their kids to be similarly interested, we'llcontinue to grow a population of scientists and technologists.

And that's critically important to the long-term success of thisnation.

Jack G. Ganssle is a lecturer and consultant on embeddeddevelopment issues. He conducts seminars on embedded systems and helpscompanies with their embedded challenges. Contact him at . His website is .

I agree with your skepticism about the “low-age, high-income geek”, because it's a smaller and smaller percentage of that 18-25 group that are enrolling in the sciences. Fantasy geek has become more prevalent than real thing because it's easier.

– Vernon Davis

“One is left with the feeling that the dearth of scientists will leave the US a technological backwater in the years to come.”

Uncle Sam can always find a PhD from abroad (dirt cheap). Europe is just a paper tiger, China and India will collapse under their own mass, so the brain drain will be guaranteed. Anybody remember this project.


“We're All Geeks”, except politicians ;-).

– Aki Peltonen

Our family can't help being interested in science; both parents went to Caltech. My wife engineered for a while but now teaches teachers better ways of teaching science. She's very good at getting kids interested and excited about learning, and works on transferring her techniques and philosophies to teachers. But some school systems make it very difficult to teach science as an exciting aspect of learning. “Standards” are crushing the excitement out of almost all science teaching, except for the most innovative teachers, who can stay excited and still meet the letter of the standards.

– Bruce Casner

My experience is that lots of people are interested in science with a big BUT attached.

— If it has to do with medical breakthroughsthat helps me lose weight, grow hair, cure cancer etc.then I'm interested. Notice howthe NY times, CNN, Time, etc spend almost all their science coverage on the medicine.The Economist does much better!

— Their interest drops to around zero ifit is required to know even basic math(say trig or calculus) to understand what'shappening. As soon as math is requiredmost have no interest in it and don't wantto hear about it.

—- Virtually no one puts any effort intothe investment to understand the physicalsciences unless they majored in it or engineering in college.

– Alwyn Goodloe

Hey! anyone up for a math/science homework set???

– Ken Wada

No I'm not!

– Steve King

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