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How Americans View Science

Many issues actively debated in today’s societies concern matters that are related to the foci of science. These include the extent of climate change and its causes; the costs and benefits of vaccinations; and the role of globalization in the welfare of societies.

I was exposed to recent research that the Pew Research Center completed
on attitudes of the American public about science, scientists, and the scientific method.

There are a variety of key findings nicely outlined in the short report – large portions of American adults see real benefits from science for the larger society; scientists are seen to be acting with the public interest in mind; but some outcomes of science (e.g., gene editing for food crops) raised concerns of some; biomedical researchers are more highly valued than environmental researchers, and so on.

But, I found more interesting other suggestions in the report. It challenges a predominant view of all academics facing criticism of their work. It is common for academics to attempt to educate a critic about their field’s findings, in an attempt to dissuade them of their criticisms. The reward system of the academy is heavily based on rational argument. Our debates are intellectual debates, presenting logic arguments for a given position on some issue. It is thus obvious to an academic that the best way to persuade another is to engage in the exchange of information that when combined offers a powerful logical argument for their position.

The cumulative findings on attitudes toward science suggest, however, that exchange of information so persuasive to scientists on some fact is often not effective in persuading skeptics about an issue. What is more-or-less settled scientific fact is not automatically accepted by others outside of the field. Why, the academic asks, are they not persuaded by the cumulative lessons of such scholarship?

What appears to interfere in the argument process is related to other beliefs – whether one believes in the scientific method as a tool to identify facts or whether one believes that scientists are trustworthy or whether they can create any result they wish to create under the guise of the scientific method. If one doesn’t trust that the scholars are dispassionate seekers of truth or even worse that they are charlatans producing results as a form of advocacy, then citing the cumulative scientific evidence that a result should be believed is worthless.

Most academics have a trust in the process of debate and peer review in their field that good work is identifiable and separable from bad work. Fields are well-designed to discern the truth over time, or more clearly stated the best current approximation to the truth.

If one’s position in the society leads to lack of trust in science or scientists or any academic field. If the dominant belief is that those within the field are not honest in their pursuit of truth, then presentation of rational arguments based on those fields are not effective.

There seems to be increasing questions about the value of science and the academy more generally. The report suggests that presentation of the products of the academy may not be a useful tool to answer those questions.

A prior step is needed. We need more insight into whether a critic devalues the academy because a belief that it has no integrity in its pursuits. If so, an approach that addresses that belief must be taken. What is the basis of lack of trust in the integrity of the scholarship? Can this lack of trust be reduced? One quickly begins to note the role of transparency in processes and evidence of service to the public as key ingredients in trust building.

We in academia may have to go back a few steps to describe how we do our work and for what reasons. Only then, will some of our audiences be ready to consider the products of our work in forming their judgments about facts.

143 thoughts on “How Americans View Science

  1. Thanks for highlighting this important study. I’m a bit surprised, though, by the focus on whether or not the public believes that scientists are acting in the public interest. In my experience, that’s only tangentially related to why the scientific process works. Scientists are drawn to the process and the profession because of a drive to, as you say, find “the best current approximation to the truth” about how nature works. Whether or not that is in the public interest is an interesting question, but is not what motivates most of us to do what it takes to excel (or try to) in our chosen field, as near as I can tell. The scientific process works because the people who choose this line of work and are successful at it are, by and large, committed to the pursuit of scientific truth. For some that commitment may genuinely derive from a desire to serve the public, but I think for many of us the fact that it serves the public interest is just a bonus (albeit a rather important one). Or a rationalization that helps us feel good about doing what we love, I’m not sure…

  2. Whether or not that is in the public interest is an interesting question, but is not what motivates most of us to do what it takes to excel (or try to) in our chosen field, as near as I can tell. The scientific process works because the people who choose this line of work and are successful at it are, by and large,

  3. It’s important to distinguish between the public understanding of science (scientific literacy) and their trust in scientists and institutions. Trust is a multifaceted issue influenced by perceived integrity, political affiliations, and past experiences.

  4. With bogus scientific studies being published in major scientific journal databases, we can’t blame people who develop distrust in scientists and professionals. Thus, integrity falls.

  5. Of course, questioning of a scientists values naturally cast suspicion on how objective was the descriptive and predictive analyses. Skepticism about the first three types of analyses are naturally going to lead to skepticism

  6. It was a really good and useful article. In my opinion, the best universities in the world are located in America, and this is a very important point.

  7. Of course, questioning of a scientists values naturally cast suspicion on how objective was the descriptive and predictive analyses. Skepticism about the first three types of analyses are naturally going to lead to skepticism about the prescriptive analyses.

  8. Americans’ perspectives on science vary widely, reflecting the diverse values and beliefs within the society. While some embrace scientific advancements with enthusiasm, others may approach certain scientific topics with skepticism. Bridging the gap between scientific experts and the general public is crucial for fostering a better understanding and appreciation of science in society.

  9. Whether or not that is in the public interest is an interesting question, but is not what motivates most of us to do what it takes to excel (or try to) in our chosen field, as near as I can tell.

  10. If we examine the fine writing in some ways
    Of course, the questioning of a scientist naturally doubts about how objective descriptive and predictive analysis is. Skepticism about the first three types of analysis will naturally lead to skepticism about prescription analysis.

  11. Most scientists rely on the process of discussion and peer review, where good jobs in their field can be identified and distinguished from bad jobs. Fields have expressed a close, well-designed, or more explicitly current approach to truth in order to distinguish truth over time.

  12. This article sheds light on the complex relationship between science and public perception in the United States. It highlights the findings of a Pew Research Center study, revealing that while a significant portion of American adults recognize the societal benefits of science and trust scientists to act in the public interest, there are still areas of concern and skepticism.

    One of the most intriguing aspects explored in this article is the challenge it presents to the common assumption that academics can simply educate critics by presenting logical arguments and empirical evidence. The article suggests that the effectiveness of such persuasion often hinges on broader beliefs, including trust in the scientific method and scientists themselves. If there is a lack of trust in the impartiality of scholars or the belief that scientists can manipulate results for advocacy, then the presentation of rational arguments rooted in their fields may fall on deaf ears.

    The article underscores the importance of recognizing the role of trust and perception in shaping public attitudes towards science. It serves as a reminder that effective science communication goes beyond presenting facts and data; it requires addressing underlying beliefs and fostering trust in the scientific process.

    In a world where scientific issues play an increasingly prominent role in public discourse, understanding these nuances is crucial for bridging the gap between scientific consensus and public perception.

  13. The essay raises an important point about the limitations of rational argument in persuading people who distrust science. It suggests that we need to first address the underlying issue of trust before we can expect our arguments to be effective.

  14. This very informative that the report highlights the challenge of persuading skeptics about scientific facts through rational argument and information exchange alone, as trust in the scientific method and scientists plays a crucial role. Lack of trust in the integrity of academia and the belief that scholars may have ulterior motives hinder acceptance of scientific evidence. Transparency, demonstrating service to the public, and addressing trust issues are crucial for fostering understanding and acceptance of scientific findings.

  15. This illuminating article delves into the American perspective on science, delving into key societal issues like climate change and vaccinations. The Pew Research Center’s findings reflect a society that acknowledges the benefits of science for the greater good and recognizes scientists’ commitment to public welfare. The nuanced concerns around certain scientific outcomes, like gene editing for food crops, highlight the ethical dimensions of progress. The contrast in value between biomedical and environmental researchers raises intriguing questions about societal priorities. In an era driven by scientific advancements, this article prompts vital conversations about the intricate interplay between science and society.

  16. This article emphasizes the importance of trust in science and academia. It highlights that people’s trust in scientific information is rooted in their trust in academic institutions and scholars. Furthermore, it suggests that transparency in processes and evidence of serving the public are crucial factors in building trust. The article suggests that academia may need to step back and describe how they conduct their work and the reasons behind it in order to engage and gain the trust of their audience. Only then will some individuals be willing to consider the products of academic work when forming their judgments about facts.

  17. I find it intriguing how the study highlights the importance of addressing the underlying lack of trust in scholarship. Trust, transparency, and public service are crucial in rebuilding confidence in the scientific community. I appreciate the emphasis on the need to understand and engage with skeptics’ concerns.

  18. Doubt is really a different thing. People should learn to be moderate in this regard. Wherever we are, we should give opportunities to ourselves and those around us in some cases. Unity for the purpose of life is the best thing but tell people about it.

  19. Professinoally whether or not that is in the public interest is an interesting question, but is not what motivates most of us to do what it takes to excel (or try to) in our chosen field, as near as I can tell. The scientific process works very good. So this so good article

  20. Most scientists rely on the process of discussion and peer review, where good jobs in their field can be identified and distinguished from bad jobs. Fields have expressed a close, well-designed, or more explicitly current approach to truth in order to distinguish truth over time.

  21. Of course, questioning of a scientists values naturally cast suspicion on how objective was the descriptive and predictive analyses. Skepticism about the first three types of analyses are naturally going to lead to skepticism about the prescriptive analyses.

  22. Health is perhaps the most important aspect of our lives. Without good health, we cannot enjoy all the other things life has to offer. Taking care of our physical, mental, and emotional well-being should be a top priority for everyone.

  23. This very informative that the report highlights the challenge of persuading skeptics about scientific facts through rational argument and information exchange alone, as trust in the scientific method and scientists plays a crucial role. Lack of trust in the integrity of academia and the belief that scholars may have ulterior motives hinder acceptance of scientific evidence. Transparency, demonstrating service to the public, and addressing trust issues are crucial for fostering understanding and acceptance of scientific findings.

  24. my friend, of course, scientists are doing a lot of research or analysis on this subject. but the accuracy of science depends only on how applicable it is. every scientific study is provable As long as it survives

  25. This post presents a compelling case for a comprehensive overhaul of the core undergraduate curriculum to incorporate a deeper understanding of science and the scientific process.

  26. This post conveys a good message that in order to regain people’s trust in scientific knowledge, scientists need to communicate more with the public and make their work more accessible and understandable.

  27. Thanks for highlighting this important study. I’m a bit surprised, though, by the focus on whether or not the public believes that scientists are acting in the public interest. In my experience, that’s only tangentially related to why the scientific process works. Scientists are drawn to the process and the profession because of a drive to, as you say, find “the best current approximation to the truth” about how nature works.

    • Science and academia have an important role in the progress and development of society. However, a lack of trust and false beliefs about scientists’ intentions can make scientific facts difficult to accept. Therefore, it is important for scientists to more transparently explain their working methods and intentions and demonstrate that they are serving society.

  28. Doubt is really a different thing. People should learn to be moderate in this regard. Wherever we are, we should give opportunities to ourselves and those around us in some cases. Unity for the purpose of life is the best thing but tell people about it.

  29. It is difficult to make a generalization about how all Americans view science, as opinions and attitudes can vary greatly among individuals and groups. However, studies have shown that a majority of Americans have a positive view of science and believe that it has a positive impact on society. For example, a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2019 found that 86% of adults believe that science has made life easier for most people, and 79% believe that science has had a positive effect on society.

    However, there are also some Americans who hold more skeptical or negative views of science, particularly in certain areas such as climate change, vaccination, and evolution. Some individuals may reject scientific findings due to religious or ideological beliefs, while others may have concerns about the accuracy or reliability of scientific research. In recent years, there has also been some public debate and controversy over issues such as scientific integrity, funding for scientific research, and the role of science in public policy.

    Overall, attitudes towards science in America are complex and multifaceted, reflecting a range of individual and societal factors.

  30. There are many different thoughts and opinions about how Americans view science. Some believe that Americans have a strong interest in science, with many pursuing careers in fields such as medicine, engineering, and technology. Others, however, feel that science is not given the same level of importance as other subjects, such as English and math, and that there is a general lack of understanding and knowledge about scientific concepts among the general population.

    One factor that may contribute to this perception is the education system. While science is a core subject in American schools, some argue that it is not given the same priority as other subjects, particularly in areas where funding for schools is limited. Additionally, there may be a lack of emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for scientific inquiry.

    Another issue is the role of media and popular culture in shaping attitudes toward science. Some argue that science is often portrayed inaccurately or sensationalized in movies, television shows, and news coverage, leading to misunderstandings and misconceptions. Others, however, point out that there has been a recent trend toward more accurate and realistic depictions of science in popular culture, particularly in the form of science documentaries and science-themed entertainment.

    Overall, there is no single answer to how Americans view science, as attitudes can vary widely depending on a range of factors such as education, media, and personal interests. However, it is clear that science plays a crucial role in many aspects of American life, from technological innovation to healthcare, and that continued investment in scientific education and research is essential for the country’s continued success and prosperity.

    http://www.icerikalemi.com

  31. Science is important science for everyone and all countries, and it has attracted the most attention for years. Doctor, Engineering, Architecture etc. Everything is very open and very clear explanation of issues. was truly information.

  32. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that there is a more positive view when it comes to descriptive analysis (which is probably viewed as the most easy role for maintaining neutral objectivity). Predictive analysis would be considered more “iffy” because of the nature of predictions (educated guesses). Normative analysis is expected to be the most problematic in the public’s collective mind because different subsectors are going to differ with the value judgments of various scientists. Of course, questioning of a scientists values naturally cast suspicion on how objective was the descriptive and predictive analyses. Skepticism about the first three types of analyses are naturally going to lead to skepticism about the prescriptive analyses.

  33. In my opinion, science the most important thing. In my opinion, there are still countries that are unaware of the importance of science and spend resources according to war or guns.

  34. A prior step is needed. We need more insight into whether a critic devalues the academy because a belief that it has no integrity in its pursuits.
    very good article. Thank you.

  35. Most scientists rely on the process of discussion and peer review, where good jobs in their field can be identified and distinguished from bad jobs. Fields have expressed a close, well-designed, or more explicitly current approach to truth in order to distinguish truth over time.

  36. The work done on space agriculture excited me as an agricultural engineer. I will be looking forward to the announcement of new agricultural studies over time. I am your follower.

  37. Science is important science for every country or people, and it has attracted the most attention for years. Doctor, Engineering, Architecture etc. But today, the biggest interest is developing on e-commerce.

  38. Science has become a growth tool for large capital groups in this century. Scientific researches and the results obtained from these researches serve brutal capitalism. The final results from science today are of no use to the poor. If we consider that the chronic diseases of our planet are caused by large industrial establishments, we can criticize science more easily. I probably do not create the global warming and climate change, the droughts and severe weather events in many parts of the world. Scientific research funded by large industrial companies is not done for me to live a healthier and more comfortable life. Most of these scientific studies work on innovations targeting consumer societies.
    Elbette insanlık ve insanlığın geleceği adına çalışan kıymetli bilim insanları da vardır ama tüm bilimsel araştırmalar bir noktada ticari kazanç elde etmeye evrilmektedir.
    I don’t think like the bulk of American society. If the economic order in the world does not change, every scientific finding will continue to gnaw the future of the world.
    I’m not against science, but I’m really afraid that the end result that humanity approaches will be very frightening.

  39. The scientific process works because the people who choose this line of work and are successful at it are, by and large, committed to the pursuit of scientific truth. For some that commitment may genuinely derive from a desire to serve the public, but I think for many of us the fact that it serves the public interest is just a bonus (albeit a rather important one)

  40. Science knowledge levels is strongly tied to education. According to Pew research center survey, Americans can answer at least some questions about science concepts.

  41. Of course, questioning of a scientists values naturally cast suspicion on how objective was the descriptive and predictive analyses. Skepticism about the first three types of analyses are naturally going to lead to skepticism about the prescriptive analyses.

  42. The scientific process works because the people who choose this line of work and are successful at it are, by and large, committed to the pursuit of scientific truth. For some that commitment may genuinely derive from a desire to serve the public, but I think for many of us the fact that it serves the public interest is just a bonus (albeit a rather important one).

  43. This post is a very good argument for additional (more substantial) revision of the core undergraduate curriculum to more fully embrace science and how science is done.

  44. The scientific process works because the people who choose this line of work and are successful at it are, by and large, committed to the pursuit of scientific truth. For some that commitment may genuinely derive from a desire to serve the public, but I think for many of us the fact that it serves the public interest is just a bonus (albeit a rather important one). Antalya Kuafor

  45. The scientific process works because the people who choose this line of work and are successful at it are, by and large, committed to the pursuit of scientific truth. For some that commitment may genuinely derive from a desire to serve the public, but I think for many of us the fact that it serves the public interest is just a bonus (albeit a rather important one).

  46. Science should not be under the control of only one country. Everyone should have free access to information. However, this seems unlikely today. After all, knowledge is the greatest power.

  47. We need a better understanding of the distinction between believing in science and believing in scientists. The scientific method is a trustworthy one. There are certain scientists, though, who are not trustworthy.

  48. Of course, questioning of a scientists values naturally cast suspicion on how objective was the descriptive and predictive analyses. Skepticism about the first three types of analyses are naturally going to lead to skepticism about the prescriptive analyses.

  49. Today, all developed countries have become advanced countries in heavy industry, combining science and technology. The underdeveloped countries, on the other hand, have survived as countries that tried to farm with primitive tools and still could not get rid of the strange beliefs and fights of the past.

    People of our age have very different needs. However, with the power of science and technology, needs can be met.
    Using scientific knowledge, knowing more and wanting to have knowledge increase our chances of success in life.

    The purpose of science is to facilitate human life and to make the world more livable. The societies that achieve this will be the leading societies of the world.

  50. I believe that we should not be stingy when it comes to science. As the Indian philosopher Bhartrihari said, “Knowledge is a treasure that multiplies when shared”. There are many lessons to be learned from this saying. As people and as countries, we can only aim and reach much further as a result of joint work.

  51. We need a better understanding of the distinction between believing in science and believing in scientists. The scientific method is a trustworthy one. There are certain scientists, though, who are not trustworthy. We’re aware that people have minds.

  52. The difference between trusting science and trusting scientists needs to become clearer. Science is a reliable phenomenon. However, it would not be correct to say that all scientists are reliable. We know that people are conscious.

  53. Scientific knowledge allows us to develop new technologies, solve practical problems, and make informed decisions — both individually and collectively. Because its products are so useful, the process of science is intertwined with those applications: New scientific knowledge may lead to new applications.

  54. reveal a complex relationship between citizens and scientists wherein scientists’ achievements are generally recognized and valued, but views on certain science-related issues are context-dependent. These divergences differ according to political leanings, age, race, education, religious beliefs, and other factors, and they hold implications for policy development and other public decisionmaking processes.

  55. The difference between trusting science and trusting scientists needs to become clearer. Science is a reliable phenomenon. However, it would not be correct to say that all scientists are reliable. We know that people are conscious.

  56. Thanks for highlighting this important study. I’m a bit surprised, though, by the focus on whether or not the public believes that scientists are acting in the public interest.

    Of course, questioning of a scientists values naturally cast suspicion on how objective was the descriptive and predictive analyses. Skepticism about the first three types of analyses are naturally going to lead to skepticism about the prescriptive analyses.

  57. Science is perhaps the most important thing. Unfortunately, there are still countries that are unaware of the importance of science and spend resources according to war or pleasure.

  58. Scientists are drawn to the process and the profession, as you say, because of the urge to find the “most current approach to reality” of how nature works. Whether this is in the public interest is an interesting question, but that’s not what motivates most of us to do as close as I can say to succeed (or try) in our chosen field. The scientific process works because people who choose this line of work and are successful in it largely pursue scientific truth

  59. Of course, questioning of a scientists values naturally cast suspicion on how objective was the descriptive and predictive analyses. Skepticism about the first three types of analyses are naturally going to lead to skepticism about the prescriptive analyses.

  60. today’s reality that science is important to all countries. However, it is important to spread the achievements of science all over the world in order to be the winner at the end of the day.

  61. Science is important science for every country or people, and it has attracted the most attention for years. Doctor, Engineering, Architecture etc. But today, the biggest interest is developing on e-commerce.

  62. Most scientists rely on the process of discussion and peer review, where good jobs in their field can be identified and distinguished from bad jobs. Fields have expressed a close, well-designed, or more explicitly current approach to truth in order to distinguish truth over time.

  63. The difference between trusting science and trusting scientists needs to become clearer. Science is a phenomenon that gives people confidence. However, it would not be correct to say that all scientists are reliable. We know people are aware.

  64. Of course, questioning of a scientists values naturally cast suspicion on how objective was the descriptive and predictive analyses. Skepticism about the first three types of analyses are naturally going to lead to skepticism about the prescriptive analyses

  65. Science is important science for every country or people, and it has attracted the most attention for years. Doctor, Engineering, Architecture etc. But today, the biggest interest is developing on e-commerce.

  66. Doubt is really a different thing. People should learn to be moderate in this regard. Wherever we are, we should give opportunities to ourselves and those around us in some cases. Unity for the purpose of life is the best thing but tell people about it.

  67. Of course, questioning of a scientists values naturally cast suspicion on how objective was the descriptive and predictive analyses. Skepticism about the first three types of analyses are naturally going to lead to skepticism about the prescriptive analyses.

  68. Scientists are drawn to the process and the profession, as you say, because of the urge to find the “most current approach to reality” of how nature works. Whether this is in the public interest is an interesting question, but that’s not what motivates most of us to do as close as I can say to succeed (or try) in our chosen field. The scientific process works because people who choose this line of work and are successful in it largely pursue scientific truth. izmir bayrak

  69. Of course, questioning of a scientists values naturally cast suspicion on how objective was the descriptive and predictive analyses. Skepticism about the first three types of analyses are naturally going to lead to skepticism about the prescriptive analyses.

  70. This post is a very good argument for additional (more substantial) revision of the core undergraduate curriculum to more fully embrace science and how science is done.
    Best
    Paul

  71. It might be useful to look at how each aspect of scientific researchers’ contribution to policy decisions (descriptive analysis, predictive analysis, normative analysis, prescriptive analysis) is viewed by the public (and by various subsectors).

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find that there is a more positive view when it comes to descriptive analysis (which is probably viewed as the most easy role for maintaining neutral objectivity). Predictive analysis would be considered more “iffy” because of the nature of predictions (educated guesses). Normative analysis is expected to be the most problematic in the public’s collective mind because different subsectors are going to differ with the value judgments of various scientists. Of course, questioning of a scientists values naturally cast suspicion on how objective was the descriptive and predictive analyses. Skepticism about the first three types of analyses are naturally going to lead to skepticism about the prescriptive analyses.

    It would be interesting to see how the value systems of scientists (and subsectors of scientists) differ from the value systems of the public (and subsectors of the public).

  72. Thanks for highlighting this important study. I’m a bit surprised, though, by the focus on whether or not the public believes that scientists are acting in the public interest. In my experience, that’s only tangentially related to why the scientific process works. Scientists are drawn to the process and the profession because of a drive to, as you say, find “the best current approximation to the truth” about how nature works. Whether or not that is in the public interest is an interesting question, but is not what motivates most of us to do what it takes to excel (or try to) in our chosen field, as near as I can tell. The scientific process works because the people who choose this line of work and are successful at it are, by and large, committed to the pursuit of scientific truth. For some that commitment may genuinely derive from a desire to serve the public, but I think for many of us the fact that it serves the public interest is just a bonus (albeit a rather important one). Or a rationalization that helps us feel good about doing what we love, I’m not sure…

    • If we examine the fine writing in some ways
      Of course, the questioning of a scientist naturally doubts about how objective descriptive and predictive analysis is. Skepticism about the first three types of analysis will naturally lead to skepticism about prescription analysis.Thanks Bro

      • my friend, of course, scientists are doing a lot of research or analysis on this subject. but the accuracy of science depends only on how applicable it is. every scientific study is provable As long as it survives

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