Study Reveals Disparity Between Scientists and American Public on Scientific Issues

PEW Research Center
PEW Research Center

Poll Results from the Pew Research Center have revealed that there are wide discrepancies between the American public and scientists in regards to issues surrounding technology, science, engineering, and health.

Although most of the public appears to view science favorably, there appears to be less confidence in science when it comes down to individual topics such as evolution, climate change, and genetically modified foods. For example, 88% of AAAS scientists believe it is safe to eat genetically modified foods while only 37% of U.S. adults feel the same way.

Both the public and scientists are critical of the quality of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM subjects) in grades K-12. Only 16% of AAAS scientists and 29% of the general public rank U.S. STEM education for grades K-12 as above average or the best in the world. Fully 46% of AAAS scientists and 29% of the public rank K-12 STEM as “below average”. Seventy-five percent of scientists say too little STEM education for grades K-12 is a major factor in the public’s limited knowledge about science. An overwhelming majority of scientists see the public’s limited scientific knowledge as a problem for science.

The general public tends to hold mixed views about the degree to which they believe there is scientific consensus on three hot-button science topics — the “Big Bang” theory, climate change and evolution.

Asked whether scientists generally believe that the universe was created in a single violent event often called “the Big Bang,” about four-in-ten (42%) say yes while about half (52%) say scientists are generally divided about this issue.

When it comes to climate change and evolution, a majority of adults see scientists as generally in agreement that the earth is getting warmer due to human activity (57%) or that humans have evolved over time (66%), though a sizeable minority see scientists as divided over each. Perceptions of where the scientific community stands on both climate change and evolution tend to be associated with individual views on the issue.

To read more about the report and its findings visit: