Table 7-5
Science/technology-related news stories attracting most public interest: 2000–04
Subject Public interest Date question asked
Hurricane Isabel 47 Sep-03
Reports of anthrax in United Statesa 47 Nov-01
Space shuttle Columbia disaster 46 Feb-03
Firestone tire recall 42 Jan-01
Winter weather in Northeast and Midwest 42 Jan-01
Flu outbreak and shortage of vaccine 41 Dec-03
Reports of anthrax in United Statesa 41 Nov-01
SARS spread from Asia 39 May-03
Hurricanes in Louisiana and Gulf of Mexico 38 Oct-02
Cases of West Nile virus 34 Sep-02
Bush decision on stem cell research 31 Aug-01
Mad Cow Disease in Washington State 29 Jan-04
Federal ruling on Microsoft 28 Jun-00
SARS spread from Asia 28 Jun-03
Food and Drug Administration's decision on RU-486 26 Oct-00
Missing Los Alamos computer files 25 Jun-00
Outbreak of foot-mouth in Europe 22 Mar-01
Midwest floods 20 Apr-01
Droughts in United States 19 Apr-02
Landing of spacecraft on Mars 19 Jan-04
Reports on AIDS in Africa 19 Jul-00
Worldwide AIDS epidemic 19 Aug-01
Hackers attacking websites 18 Feb-00
Mad Cow Disease in Europe 18 Aug-01
AOL–Time Warner merger 17 Jan-00
Earthquake in Iran 16 Jan-04
Government's plan for Microsoft 16 May-00
Mapping human genetic code 16 Jul-00
Earthquake in India 15 Feb-01
Missile defense system 15 May-01
Oil spill off coast of Spain 15 Dec-02
Reports of cloned baby by religious cult 14 Jan-03
Court ruling in Microsoft case 13 Apr-00
Ricin found in Senate office building 12 Feb-04
Floods in Mozambique 10 Mar-00
United Nations' special session on HIV/AIDS 6 Jul-01

aTwo separate surveys in November 2001 by the Pew Research Center asked about reports of anthrax.

NOTE: Data reflect respondents who said they followed story very closely.

SOURCE: Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, News Interest Index, Public Attentiveness to News Stories: 1986–2004 (2005).

Science and Engineering Indicators 2006