Friday, July 10, 2009

Public opinion

What does "generally agree" mean? If I were to ask you if scientists generally agree that humans have evolved, what would you say? What percentage of scientists need to agree for scientists to be in general agreement?
An interesting survey looks at the info in the US.

First, unsurprisingly, 97% of scientists say that humans have evolved, while only 60% of the public believe that scientists generally agree that humans have evolved. Does 97% constitute "generally agree"? I hope so, but either 40% of the public doesn't believe so, or they're greatly mistaken about what scientists really think.

The most surprising, "people are stupid" moment, however, has nothing to do with evolution. It has to do with whether people favor the use of animals in scientific research. A full 43% of the public opposes it. That's right. Not too far from half. Seriously? Oppose using mice, fruit flies, etc. in scientific research? Do you have any clue where medicine would be without using animals in research? We'd still be in the dark ages. Surprisingly, Republicans and old people (for once) come out on the side of science here. College grads do too--but then again, college grads almost always do, while those who are least educated are the least likely to side with scientists.

There are some other interesting stats there about public/scientist opinions on nuclear energy, global warming, other good stuff. Check it out.

No comments: