Risa already blogged about James' Op-Ed piece in the LA Times. We should also mention another excellent Op-Ed piece by an astronomer in the past week: Priya Natarajan discussing math education in the Huffington Post. She starts:
This has been the summer of our numerical discontent. As a nation, we've been riveted by the debates over the debt-ceiling crisis, the credit downgrade, the dizzying ascents and descents of the stock market. But how many people actually understand the numbers they're watching?
Priya decries the general innumeracy we see everyday, writ large and small. She argues persuasively for an increased focus on math education, especially in light of the current fiscal troubles. It is critical that the science community reach out to the general public, and opinion pieces in newspapers are an incredibly effective way to do this (blogs aren't too shabby, either). Op-Eds allow individuals from all walks of life to communicate directly with the public, without being mediated by reporters, radio hosts, or TV producers. And they reach literally millions of people. These two terrific examples from Priya and James will hopefully help encourage other scientists to get involved, and make their opinions known.