A survey commissioned by the Ontario Science Center for Science Literacy Week (Sept. 18-24) has produced results that have been referred to as “worrisome” by Maurice Bitran (CEO of the Ontario Science Center). According to one of the most general questions on the survey, 43% of Canadians believe that scientific findings are a matter of opinion.
Here is a run-down of a few other concerning survey responses:
- 47% (an increase of 7% over the last year) of people answered that “the science behind global warming is unclear,” despite scientists’ persisting findings of irrefutable evidence
- 19% answered that “there is a link between vaccinations and autism,” even though studies providing evidence to the contrary have been published years ago
- 68% agree that media coverage of scientific issues is “reported selectively to support news media objectives.”
This survey was conducted by a research firm called “Leger,” and gathered data from just over 1,500 Canadians earlier this summer. There were some positives to draw from the public opinion:
- 79% agreed that they’re comfortable “knowing that scientific answers may not be definitive.”
- 82% stated that they “would like to know more about science and how it affects our world.”
- A majority of responders stated that they trusted museums, scientists, and education institutions as sources of scientific information, but many people distrust social media and information spread by word of mouth
This distrust of the media may be somewhat justified, as many times they focus on telling both sides to a story while failing to distinguish between facts and opinions. Drawing from the positives, it’s encouraging that so many people wish to educate themselves to better understand scientific findings, and the impacts they may have on our future.
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