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Scientists and the public

July 9, 2009

There is a new Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey out on science and scientists. Not surprisingly, there are differences between scientists and the public in a number of issues/

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Some of the other findings are interesting. Apparently 70% of the public feel that scientists “contribute ‘a lot’ to society’s well-being.” This contrasts with 40% for clergy, 23% for lawyers and 21% for business executives.

You can also take their “science knowledge quiz” online and see the overall distribution of scores. I managed to get 100%. As Larry Moran notes, the questions are factual rather then conceptual and thus probably aren’t telling us very much interesting.

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  1. July 9, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    “the questions are factual rather then conceptual”

    Right, like the question about aspirin and heart attacks. I have to admit that I probably would not have known that if I had not seen a Bayer commercial making that connection. It seems that people did better on questions involving science seen on TV or in the news recently (i.e. water on Mars, Pluto’s demotion) vs. things like electrons being smaller than atoms.

  2. July 9, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    … 23% for lawyers …

    As one myself (and part of the 23%) I suspect that is more cynicism due to our seeing when science (mostly medicine) screws up and in seeing (and perpetrating) “junk science” in court.

  3. DLC
    July 9, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    I got 12 out of 12, but true, it’s a memory test and not really conceptual.

  4. July 10, 2009 at 7:00 am

    I got twelve out of twelve, without even having to think, but as far as I could see they were all $50/€50 questions from “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and had nothing to do with knowledge of science.

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