Americans' support for science remains strong

Americans' support for science remains strong
John Besley, Michigan State University associate professor of advertising and public relations, spoke at this year's AAAS meeting on the public's perceptions of science and scientists. He said surveys show a large majority of Americans hold both in high regard. Credit: MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences

A large majority of Americans have favorable views of science and scientists, believing that the benefits from science outweigh any negatives and agree that science and technology will create more opportunities for future generations.

This is according to a survey of more than 1,500 people conducted by the National Science Foundation and is part of a report—Science and Engineering Indicators—that the National Science Board provides to the president and Congress every two years.

A Michigan State University faculty member served as lead author for the chapter in the report that covers public perceptions of . John Besley, an associate professor in MSU's Department of Advertising and Public Relations, highlighted key findings during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The report uses 2014 General Social Survey data. The biennial GSS is one of the world's most-respected surveys, using face-to-face interviews and high response rates, Besley said.

One finding Besley emphasized was that Americans are more likely to have "a great deal of confidence" in leaders of the scientific community than leaders of any group other than the military. The data further shows that scientists are one of the few groups in society that have maintained confidence levels over time.

"It's helpful for Americans to maintain a high regard for science and scientists," said Besley, who also is the Ellis N. Brandt Chair in Public Relations. "Confidence in scientists should make it more likely that society will see benefits from science."

The survey also found that about 80 percent of respondents agreed that scientific research needs funding from the government and about four in 10 said the country is spending "too little" to support . Only one in 10 said they thought too much money was being spent on science.

Some of the other highlights of the chapter include:

  • Science knowledge among the general public has remained stable in recent years.
  • Nearly half of Americans cited the Internet as their primary source for science and technology information. That compares to one-tenth of Americans in 2001.
  • Only about half of the respondents said they worry about climate change. However, a majority of Americans say they would prefer a focus on over fossil-fuel development.

Explore further

Americans struggle with science, respect scientists, survey finds

Citation: Americans' support for science remains strong (2016, February 13) retrieved 20 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-02-americans-science-strong.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
18 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Feb 14, 2016
Just another demonstration of the degree to which so many are effective slaves to the press, believing what the "news" wants. The "news" makes no big matter about 90 percent of peer reviewed" articles turning out to be fraudulent. There is not very much coverage of the fact that "scientists" recommendations to wait 'til later to expose children to potential allergens caused the rate of peanut allergy to skyrocket by 250 percent. No one mentions the fact that no "scientists" mentioned the obvious fact that the infrastructure of Iraq was not sufficient to handle the mass production of banned weapons systems. And the "news" never reveals that Hitchens' depraved "principle", that, "if someone provides no evidence for their statement, that proves it's untrue", is utterly illegitimate logically. "Science" is a lie factory.

Feb 15, 2016
This ignore list is proving itself more useful by the day.

I'm all up for science and technology, but at the rate things are going we are not always ready for it by the time they have thrown a new invention at us.

From splitting atoms to genetic modification, we might do better by checking if we have any remote clue of what the %$# we're doing before implementing those on a large scale.

Feb 15, 2016
Off topic:

any group other than the military

Faith in military leaders? That's scary.

- Science knowledge among the general public has remained stable in recent years.
- Nearly half of Americans cited the Internet as their primary source for science and technology information. That compares to one-tenth of Americans in 2001.

That's weird. With the advent of the internet access to scientific information has become vastly easier. i would have expected scientific knowledge to increase.

90 percent of peer reviewed" articles turning out to be fraudulent.

Fun fact: 83 percent of all percentage values are made up on the spot

Read: Source? Where in the blue blazes do you get that 90% value?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more