This song, like many on the album, is a diatribe against the system. Guitarist and songwriter Kyp Malone explained to MTV News that it is about "dismantling civilization, about taking responsibility for the world that we live in and figuring out a way to tear it down."
The titling of the Dear Science album was triggered by news of the switching on of the world's largest particle accelerator along the French-Swiss border. The collider is an attempt to study the big-bang theory by re-creating the big bang. However many have feared that if the particle accelerator succeeds, it will create a black hole, which will swallow the Earth, wiping out everything. Vocalist Tunde Adebimpe explained to Rolling Stone that this news provoked guitarist Dave Sitek to write a letter. Said Ademimpe: "Dave (Sitek) had written this letter addressed to science in kind of a kid's handwriting and it said, 'Dear Science, please fix all the things you keep talking about or shut up.' And that ended up in the washer when we were picking titles. I think we're going to post all of the titles, because while we were recording the record, everyone would give their two cents as to what the title should be. There's a long, long list of horrible titles. Dear Science is probably the most tasteful of all of those." Sitek wrote his letter on a yellow legal pad and pinned it to the wall of the band's Brooklyn recording studio. It subsequently served as the liner notes to the Dear Science album.
"Cleveland Rocks" was written by an Englishman. Ian Hunter wrote the song after touring America in the late '70s and finding that Cleveland was by far the most receptive city to his brand of Glam Rock.