Science in Society’s Updates

Taking Our Eye Off the Ball — Why Is Science Suffering in the Modern Age?

Image Courtesy of Morguefile | Article Link |

A recent survey from the Pew Research Institute revealed troubling trends in how science is doing, and showed that the public and scientists are far apart on many basic questions, from whether humans have evolved over time (only 65% of the public agrees, compared to 98% of scientists), to whether it’s safe to eat genetically modified foods (88% of scientists think so, but only 37% of the public agrees).

There are some positive aspects to the survey. For instance, 79% of the public respondents believe science has made life easier for most people.

However, the most troubling aspects of the survey come when comparing responses in 2014 to those from 2009. As the authors write:

"Compared with five years ago, both citizens and scientists are less upbeat about the scientific enterprise."

The percentage of scientists saying that “this is generally a good time for science” is down from 76% in 2009 to 52% in 2014. The percentage of the public considering US scientific achievements to be above average or the best in the world is down from 65% in 2009 to 54% in 2014. Support for public funding of science is also slipping, but not as dramatically.