Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Public Understanding
Interest inand Knowledge about Science and Technology
- In National Science Foundation (NSF) surveys conducted during the past two decades, about 9 out of every 10 U.S. adults report being very or moderately interested in new scientific discoveries and the use of new inventions and technologies. Those with more years of formal education and those who have taken more courses in science and mathematics are more likely than others to express a high level of interest in science and technology.
- The number of people who feel either well informed or moderately well informed about science and technology is fairly low. In 1999, only 17 percent of those surveyed described themselves as well informed about new scientific discoveries and the use of new inventions and technologies; approximately 30 percent thought they were poorly informed.
- Most Americans know a little, but not a lot, about science and technology. Between 1997 and 1999, however, public understanding of basic science concepts and terms increased slightly.
- Although there was little change in the late 1990s in the percentage of correct responses to most of the survey questions pertaining to knowledge of basic science concepts and terms, the percentage of correct responses to three items did increase. More people are able to define a molecule, the Internet, and DNA. The growing awareness of DNA is probably attributable to heavy media coverage of the use of DNA in crime-solving and in advancements in the field of medicine.
- About three-quarters of Americans lack a clear understanding of the nature of scientific inquiry. Although more than one-half have some understanding of probability, only one-third were familiar with how an experiment is conducted and less than one-quarter could adequately explain what it means to study something scientifically.
Public Attitudes Toward Science and Technology
Use of Computers and Computer Technology in the United States
The Relationship Between Science and the Media: Communicating with the Public