Americans vs. Scientists

A study published in the journal Science last week found that Americans are seriously misinformed when it comes to scientific topics like evolution, the safety of GM foods and vaccinations, as well as humanity’s role in climate change. The survey, jointly conducted by the Pew Research Center and American Association for the Advancement of Science, compared opinions about scientific matters of the public and AAAS’ member scientists:

The results are…discouraging. Thirty-one percent of Americans believe that humans have been in “their present form” since their creation, while 24 percent believe that humans evolved but under the guidance of some God-like figure. Only 2 percent of AAAS scientists do not believe in evolution (which is scary in and of itself).

The numbers were even worse when it came to climate change. Only half of the those surveyed agreed with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change view that climate change is mostly driven by human activity. Nearly half said there was either no good evidence for global warming, or that the recent warming of the Earth was due to natural climate variability.

Alan Leshner, the CEO of AAAS and Executive Publisher of Science said:

“There is a disconnect between the way the public perceives science and the way that scientists see science. Scientists need to do something to turn this around.”

Personally, I would place the majority of the blame on the media, with their bias toward appearing neutral instead of being objective when it comes to matters of scientific consensus, rather than on the scientists themselves.

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