Several international studies show the the US and UK populations perform woefully in science and mathematics, when compared with other industrialized nations. I have no doubt that this is contributing to our economic decline, which is supported by Sackerson's recent post on the health of the German economy.
Neurological studies show that talent in these areas seems to be genetic. However, the disregard for those with the talents, and the simultaneous embracement of the technology that results, is a cultural issue.
One does not have to look hard to see some of the enabling elements:
Popular culture has elevated all opinions to the same level. Sometimes, the level is based on the volume of the holder, or the number of adherants. Thus, the majority of the US public holds creationism at the same factual level as evolution theory, chiropractic as equivalent or better than evidence-based medicine, astrology equal to astronomy, and homeopathic medicines as better than those with active ingredients.
Our leaders make decisions based on the current polls and personal bias, even when the issues are highly technical, like defense, energy, medicine and education.
Our colleges of education teach that pedagogy trumps knowledge base. In other words, a 'good' teacher supposedly can teach material that they do not understand. Business colleges teach similarly that management skills are independent of the industry involved.
In higher education, we pretend that logic and analytical skills really don't matter, while claiming to teach 'critical thinking'.
I can give no better example than to summarize the discussion at a college meeting that I attended today. One highly-educated individual said: "It is all very well to have technical training (in science, technology, engineering and mathematics), but that is not 'real' education".