I grew up with a scientist for a father. There were no car trips, long walks or three-minute silences at the dinner table that weren’t filled with explanations or factoids about fish larvae, the earth’s gravitational pull or greenhouse gases.

And to be completely honest, I get why so many people are squeamish about science—the content is often dense and can be difficult to understand. Often, studying science leads to more questions than it does answers—and let’s face it, that can be frustrating and unnerving.

Many times as a child, my dad would launch into the minutia of something like natural selection and my eyes would glaze over and my mind would wander. So, I understand the juvenile inclination to plug your ears and scream, ‘It’s all too much. It doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t get it.

But, then, I grew up. And as I grew up, something really important happened to me—something it seems that hasn’t happened to some of America’s politicians—I realized that understanding how and why things work is not a luxury that we can simply choose to ignore. It is imperative to our growth, health and our survival. We must understand how our actions create reactions and why.

More than ever, there is a real push to politicize science—things that have been proven with fact and logic are being spun using religion, fear and emotional ploys. Whether the guilty “leaders” are truly unintelligent or are just preying on the minds of those who don’t have the facts, I don’t know. What I do know is that some politicians are blatantly rejecting reason, science and intelligence in favor of their opinions, beliefs and agendas.

Whether it’s claiming that women’s bodies magically reject sperm after “legitimate rape,” or insisting that melting ice caps and severe weather aren’t the result of human impact on global warming, one thing is clear: America will not thrive, and nothing but ignorance will grow, by turning our back on science and pretending it doesn’t exist.

Assertions like the one Todd Akin made Sunday might be forgiven at an awkward family reunion or in an unsolicited email forward. But they cannot be forgiven when made in a public arena by a political leader who is making laws that affect our lives and creating impressions that affect our country.

As a woman, I am horrified by the potential ramifications this kind of misinformation and misogyny could have on women’s rights and on victims of sexual assault. As an American citizen, I am disturbed we have voted leaders into power who believe such a statement to be true.

There is a lot that our country is struggling with. A lot. And we don’t have the time or the resources to vote for people who aren’t smarter, stronger and more determined to ascertain the truth than the kids plugging their ears in science class.

(Image via Shutterstock).