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Science and Engineering Indicators 2004
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Chapter 7:
Information Sources, Interest, and Perceived Knowledge

Public Knowledge About S&T

Public Attitudes About Science-Related Issues

Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and

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Most Americans recognize and appreciate the benefits of S&T. The public is also highly supportive of the government's role in funding basic research. By most measures, American attitudes about S&T are considerably more positive than attitudes in Europe.

In both the United States and Europe, however, residents do not know much about S&T. The percentage of correct responses to a battery of questions designed to assess the level of knowledge and understanding of scientific terms and concepts has not changed appreciably in the past few years. In addition, approximately 70 percent of Americans do not understand the scientific process, technological literacy is weak, and belief in pseudoscience is relatively widespread and may be growing.

Although Americans generally have very positive attitudes about S&T and high regard for the science community, some harbor reservations about S&T, and 70 percent believe that scientific research does not pay enough attention to moral values. Although Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to human cloning, they are more evenly divided about stem cell research.

Americans continue to get most of their information about the latest developments in S&T from watching television. However, the Internet has made inroads and is now the leading source of information on specific scientific issues.

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