While Public Praises Scientists, Scientists Fault Media
This Pew Research Center study concludes that the majority of people in the U.S. believe that science has a positive effect on society and that it has made life easier. However, there are significant perception gaps between the public and scientists, including support for animal testing among nearly all scientists and only about half of the U.S. public.
Overall, those in the U.S. view science very positively and feel that it has made life easier for many people. Scientists are highly rated when compared with other professions. However, when comparing U.S. science on a global basis, only about 17% of the public think that U.S. achievements rate as the best in the world, compared with a much higher 49% of U.S. scientists who rate U.S. achievements similarly.
Furthermore, 85% of scientists believe that the public’s lack of scientific knowledge is a major problem for science; 49% say the public has unrealistic expectations about the speed of scientific achievements. Scientists also believe the media is responsible for public disconnect; 76% say news reports “fail to distinguish between findings that are well-founded and those that are not.”
Scientists perceive several obstacles to high quality research including lack of funding (very serious – 46%, serious – 41%), visa and immigration problems for foreign scientists and students (56%), and regulations on animal research (only 27%). Nearly all scientists (93%) favor testing on animals, compared with only 52% of the public. Among the public, those who favor animal testing are more likely to be male, older, more educated, and Republican.