Friday, September 24, 2010

Global Survey on Scientific Literacy

NatureNews has the scoop on a new global survey of scientific literacy. A sample from the story:

Science, it is often said, is an international language. But how international are attitudes towards science and scientists? Nature and our affiliated publication Scientific American set out to learn how the views of the scientifically literate public vary around the world. Our web-based survey of more than 21,000 readers of Scientific American and its translated editions in 18 countries revealed that although these science enthusiasts read the same publication and share many attitudes in their perception of science, they seem to diverge on some of the hottest-button issues.

The differences are most striking between east Asia and the rest of the world. For example, a startling 35% of the Japanese and 49% of the Chinese respondents agreed that there is "reason for doubt" about evolutionary theory's ability to explain the variety of species on Earth. In contrast, the numbers for the rest of the world fluctuated around 10%. Japanese and Chinese respondents were also less likely than others to say that they trust scientific explanations of the origins of the Universe. And almost one-third of scientifically literate Chinese people say that scientists should not get involved in politics, compared with around 10% of respondents in most of the rest of the world.