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U.S. Public Trust in Science and
Scientists
Lee Rainie
Aspen Ideas Festival, June 27, 2017
Director, Internet, Science and...
June 27, 2017
Majority of Americans say science has had
a mostly positive effect on society
2%
4%
27%
No
answe
r
Equal
pos...
June 27, 2017
Nearly half or more expect these changes will come to pass
within 50 years
Each of the following ___ in the ...
June 27, 2017
Nearly half or more expect these changes will come to pass
within 50 years
Each of the following ___ in the ...
Confidence in the leaders of the scientific community
has been stable since the 1970s
Have a great deal of confidence in t...
Gaps between AAAS members and the public
on a range of science topics
June 27, 2017
89
68
87
98
65
86
47
28
50
65
45
68
0 ...
June 27, 2017
Wide mix of factors influencing public views
on science-related issues
Note: Chart shows relative strength a...
June 27, 2017
Different factors influence public views on modifying a baby’s
genes to reduce risk of disease or to increas...
June 27, 2017
Trust in climate scientists is low among conservative
Republicans; considerably higher among liberal Democra...
June 27, 2017
Half or fewer Americans see science research as influenced
by best available evidence most of the time
The b...
June 27, 2017
Americans are more likely to trust scientists than other groups for
information about the MMR vaccine, clima...
June 27, 2017
Public expresses more worry than enthusiasm about each of
these potential human enhancements
Pew Research Ce...
Public closely divided over whether they would want gene editing
to reduce their baby’s risk of disease
“Definitely” would...
Wide differences by religious commitment
on whether gene editing is morally acceptable
June 27, 2017
Gene editing to give ...
Most highly religious Americans would not want gene editing
for their baby
June 27, 2017
Among those ___ on
the religious
...
Most Americans have heard at least a little about gene editing
June 27, 2017
Heard or read ___ about gene editing before t...
Americans expect more negative than positive effects
from use of gene editing to reduce disease risk
June 27, 2017
Each of...
Public especially concerned about germline editing
June 27, 2017
Gene editing to give healthy babies a much reduced risk o...
U.S. Public Trust in Science and
Scientists
Lee Rainie
Aspen Ideas Festival, June 27, 2017
Director, Internet, Science and...
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U.S. Public Trust in Science and Scientists

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Lee Rainie, director of internet, science and technology, presented findings about Americans’ trust in scientists at the Aspen Ideas Festival, on June 27. He was part of a section of the Festival called, “The Genetic Revolution, Unintended Consequences, and the Public Trust.”

Published in: Science
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U.S. Public Trust in Science and Scientists

  1. 1. U.S. Public Trust in Science and Scientists Lee Rainie Aspen Ideas Festival, June 27, 2017 Director, Internet, Science and Technology Research, Pew Research Center lrainie@pewresearch.org @lrainie
  2. 2. June 27, 2017 Majority of Americans say science has had a mostly positive effect on society 2% 4% 27% No answe r Equal positive and negative Mostly positive Mostly negative Science has had a ___ effect on society Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults March 2-28, 2016 67 %
  3. 3. June 27, 2017 Nearly half or more expect these changes will come to pass within 50 years Each of the following ___ in the next 50 years 66 54 48 47 18 33 45 51 52 Won't happenWill happen Routinely transplant artificially-made organs for humans Cures for most forms of cancer Computer chips routinely embedded in our bodies Routinely use implanted sensors to monitor/adjust all food/medications Eliminate almost all birth defects by manipulating genes of embryos 81 % Note: “Definitely” will/will not and “probably” will/will not responses combined. Pew Research Center survey conducted March 2-28, 2016.
  4. 4. June 27, 2017 Nearly half or more expect these changes will come to pass within 50 years Each of the following ___ in the next 50 years 51 39 33 19 15 45 56 64 77 Won't happenWill happen Lab-grown custom organs for Computers that create art as well as humans do Scientists will have solved teleportation Humans will have long-term space colonies Humans will control the weather 81 % Note: “Definitely” will/will not and “probably” will/will not responses combined. Pew Research Center survey conducted Feb. 13-18, 2014, with Smithsonian Magazine.
  5. 5. Confidence in the leaders of the scientific community has been stable since the 1970s Have a great deal of confidence in the people running these institutions 36 40 0 20 40 60 80 100% Scientific community Medicine '16'73 '75 '80 '85 '90 '95 '00 '05 '10 June 27, 2017 General Social Surveys, NORC.
  6. 6. Gaps between AAAS members and the public on a range of science topics June 27, 2017 89 68 87 98 65 86 47 28 50 65 45 68 0 20 40 60 80 100 Safe to eat genetically modified foods Climate change is mostly due to human activity Favor use of animals in research Safe to eat foods grown with pesticides Humans have evolved over time Favor building more nuclear power plants Childhood vaccines such as MMR should be required 51-POINT GAP 42 37 40 33 20 18 U.S. AAAS members Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults Aug. 15-25, 2014; AAAS survey Sept. 11-Oct 13, 2014. 88%37%
  7. 7. June 27, 2017 Wide mix of factors influencing public views on science-related issues Note: Chart shows relative strength and statistical significance of each factor or set of factors in statistical modeling Pew Research Center survey conducted Aug. 15-25, 2014.
  8. 8. June 27, 2017 Different factors influence public views on modifying a baby’s genes to reduce risk of disease or to increase intelligence Note: Chart shows relative strength and statistical significance of each factor or set of factors in statistical modeling Pew Research Center survey conducted Aug. 15-25, 2014. Relative strength and statistical significance of each factor or set of factors
  9. 9. June 27, 2017 Trust in climate scientists is low among conservative Republicans; considerably higher among liberal Democrats 11 16 15 54 55 70 Conservative Republicans Liberal Democrats Mod/Lib Republicans Cons/Mod Democrats Climate scientists understand the causes of climate change very well Almost all climate scientists agree climate change is mostly due to human activity Trust climate scientists a lot for full and accurate information on the causes of climate change U.S. adults 27 28 39 Note: Republicans and Democrats include independents and others who “lean” toward the parties. Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults May 10-June 6, 2016.
  10. 10. June 27, 2017 Half or fewer Americans see science research as influenced by best available evidence most of the time The best available scientific evidence influences research findings of each of these groups … 32 30 48 51 18 17 Most of the time Not too often/ Never Medical scientists on health effects of MMR vaccine Climate scientists on climate change causes Scientists on GM food Some of the time Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults May 10-June 6, 2016. 52 % 36 % 9%
  11. 11. June 27, 2017 Americans are more likely to trust scientists than other groups for information about the MMR vaccine, climate change Trust each of these groups a lot to give full and accurate information on… THE HEALTH RISKSAND BENEFITSOFTHE MMRVACCINE THE CAUSESOF CLIMATE CHANGE THE HEALTH RISKSAND BENEFITSOF EATING GM FOODS 13 9 8 6 Medical scientists Pharmaceutical industry leaders Holistic/alternative health groups The news media Elected officials 29 10 9 4 Scientists Small farmers Food industry leaders The news media Elected officials 7 7 4 Climate scientists Energy industry leaders The news media Elected officials Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults May 10-June 6, 2016. 55% 39% 35%
  12. 12. June 27, 2017 Public expresses more worry than enthusiasm about each of these potential human enhancements Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults March 2-28, 2016 They are ___ about each of these enhancements Gene editing
  13. 13. Public closely divided over whether they would want gene editing to reduce their baby’s risk of disease “Definitely” would/would not want and “probably” would/would not want responses combined. Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults March 2-28, 2016 June 27, 2017 Gene editing to give healthy babies a much reduced risk of serious diseases and conditions is something they would/would not want for their baby 50 59 45 48 39 53 Would not want for their baby Would want for their baby U.S. adults PARENT STATUS Parent of child under 18 No child under 18
  14. 14. Wide differences by religious commitment on whether gene editing is morally acceptable June 27, 2017 Gene editing to give healthy babies a much reduced risk of serious diseases and conditions is … 40 43 41 37 Not sure 28 15 25 45 30 41 32 17 U.S. adults High Medium Low Morally unacceptable Morally acceptable Among those ___ on the religious commitment index Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults March 2-28, 2016
  15. 15. Most highly religious Americans would not want gene editing for their baby June 27, 2017 Among those ___ on the religious commitment index 64 50 36 34 48 63 Would not want for their baby Would want for their baby High Medium Low Gene editing to give healthy babies a much reduced risk of serious diseases and conditions is something they would/would not want for their baby “Definitely” would/would not want and “probably” would/would not want responses combined. Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults March 2-28, 2016
  16. 16. Most Americans have heard at least a little about gene editing June 27, 2017 Heard or read ___ about gene editing before taking the survey 9 48 42 A lot A little Not at all 57 37 A lot/a little Not at all Among those who have heard or read ___ about gene editing before Would want gene editing giving their baby a much reduced risk of serious diseases Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults March 2-28, 2016
  17. 17. Americans expect more negative than positive effects from use of gene editing to reduce disease risk June 27, 2017 Each of the following is likely to happen if gene editing to give healthy babies a much reduced risk of serious diseases and conditions becomes available 70 53 52 45 32 This option will be used before we fully understand the effects Inequality will increase; will only be available for wealthy People who have this will feel superior to those who do not Possible POSITIVE outcomes Possible NEGATIVE outcomes People who have this will feel more confident about themselves Widespread use will lead to new innovation and problem-solving People who have had this will be more productive at their jobs Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults March 2-28, 2016 73%
  18. 18. Public especially concerned about germline editing June 27, 2017 Gene editing to give healthy babies a much reduced risk of serious diseases and conditions would be more acceptable, less acceptable or make no difference … 34 17 23 49 40 31 More acceptable Less acceptable No difference If effects were limited to that person and could not be passed on If it changed the genetic makeup of the whole population Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults March 2-28, 2016
  19. 19. U.S. Public Trust in Science and Scientists Lee Rainie Aspen Ideas Festival, June 27, 2017 Director, Internet, Science and Technology Research, Pew Research Center lrainie@pewresearch.org @lrainie

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