A recent study led by the Pew Research Center reveals that there is a widening gap between what scientists claim about genetically modified crops, climate change, safety of the vaccines and so on, and what the general public believes.
The findings also reveal that the public’s confidence in some particular theories catered by science is steadily eroding, although people usually admit that science made their lives more convenient.
The authors of the study blame the lack of transparency of the scientific community for the situation. Scientists should get out of the lab more, and try and reach the public and explain in an easy manner what their theories are all about, the study authors said.
The Pew Center team based its findings on a survey conducted on a random sample of scientists that held a membership at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), as well as data gathered from 2,002 randomly picked American adults from around the country.
Alan Leshner, chief executive of the AAAS, recently reported that his organization was backing science on the condition that it was going to pay off in benefits to mankind. Mr. Leshner also said that it would be difficult for human society to reap the benefits of science if its members were not receptive to what science had to offer.
However, the general doubt about scientific finds thrives in a context of a widespread recognition of science’s overall benefits by the general public. The Pew study shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans not involved in any scientific research admit that science made their lives easier. Also, 70 percent of them agree that the governmental funding for research projects in engineering and technology usually paid off.
Still, the gaps between scientific consensus and the general public’s view involve various issues. For instance, only 37 percent of adult Americans believe genetically modified foods are safe to eat, compared to 88 percent of researchers taking part in the study. Also, only 28 percent of the public thinks that crops treated with pesticides are safe to eat, compared to 68 percent of the scientists.
Additionally, 50 percent of adult Americans believe climate change is real or the result of human activity, as compared to 87 percent of the AAAS members. The 50 percent rate remained stable over the past eight years, study authors noted.
Another issue upon which there isn’t a consensus between the two groups is the childhood vaccination. THe pew study shows that about 68 percent of Americans believe vaccination is necessary in early years, compared to 86 percent of the scientists.
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