chapter  18
16 Pages

The overselling of science education in the 1980s

ByBryan Chapman

J.K.Galbraith made a distinction between ‘institutional truth’ and reality.1 Institutional truth is ‘what serves the needs and purposes of the large and socially pervasive institutions that increasingly dominate modern life’. As examples, he cited the ‘institutional truth’ about Russian imperialism which (up till now!) has had to be accepted before employment with the Pentagon could be contemplated; the ‘institutional truth’ of the financial world that ‘the pursuit of money by whatever design within the law is always benign’ before a graduate could be accepted for employment on Wall Street; a total belief in the curative power of bran-filled breakfast foods before joining Kellogg’s, not to mention the fundamentalist fervour demanded of potential employees of the Coca-Cola Corporation. It goes without saying that, at the end of his damning indictment of ‘institutional truths’, he urged the graduands, against all preferment and advancement logic, to choose reality.