The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released findings and conclusions from the Board on Science Education’s review of science literacy in the U.S. The Board on Science Education analyzed science literacy at the societal, community, and individual level. They found that adults in the U.S. have comparable levels of science literacy to adults in other economically developed countries and that there is a small, positive relationship between science literacy and support for science. Additionally, the Board found that an individual’s support of science in general does not predict his or her support or attitude for a specific scientific issue. The full report can be read here.
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By Julia Milton, COSSA
The scientific community has been grappling with topics related to science communication and public trust in science lately. This spring, several major scientific organizations met to focus on these issues. To name a few, the National Academy of Science’s 2015 Henry and Bryna David Lecture was held on “Communicating the Value and Values of Science;” the AAAS’ annual Forum on Science and Technology Policy held not one, but two break-out sessions on “Public Opinion and Policy Making,” as well as an evening plenary lecture entitled “Science to Action: Thoughts on Convincing a Skeptical Public;” and the Academies’ Roundtable on Public Interfaces of the Life Sciences held a workshop, “Does the Public Trust Science? Trust and Confidence at the Intersections of the Life Sciences and Society.”
According to Pew Research Associate Director Cary Funk, the public generally has confidence in both the institution of science and scientists as a profession. However, when it comes to specific science-related issues like evolution, attitudes become more varied and may be correlated with factors like political ideology, education, and religiosity, depending on the topic. There is certainly a sense that “science” has been on the defensive lately as public policy debates on climate change, childhood vaccinations, and genetically modified foods generate controversy and incidents like the high-profile retraction of a study on attitudes toward same-sex marriage grab headlines. (more…)