Pew Research Center’s new study of science and its impact on society includes a science knowledge quiz. You can test yourself on the quiz. Thankfully I was able to get all 12 answers correct, which 10% of those taking the test have done. The median score was 8 out of 12.
I find some of the results surprising. The question most often answered correctly is “Which over-the-counter drug do doctors recommend that people take to help prevent heart attacks?”. The least often “Electrons are smaller than atoms,” a true or false question fewer than 50% of people got right.
Just 17% of the public thinks that U.S. scientific achievements rate as the best in the world. A survey of more than 2,500 scientists, conducted in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), finds that nearly half (49%) rate U.S. scientific achievements as the best in the world.
large percentages think that government investments in basic scientific research (73%) and engineering and technology (74%) pay off in the long run. Notably, the partisan differences in these views are fairly modest, with 80% of Democrats and 68% of Republicans saying that government investments in basic science pay off in the long run. Comparable percentages of Democrats and Republicans say the same about government investments in engineering and technology.
In this regard, public views about whether funding for scientific research should be increased, decreased or kept the same have changed little since the start of the decade. Currently, more than twice as many people say that, if given the task of making up the budget for the federal government, they would increase (39%) rather than decrease (14%) funding for scientific research; 40% say they would keep spending as it is. That is largely unchanged from 2001, when 41% said they would increase funding for scientific research.
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