There are a host of issues, like vaccine safety, climate change, and GMO foods, where public opinion is a poor match for our scientific standing. That has led a lot of people to ask how we could do better at getting scientific information out to the public. But the Pew Research Center decided to ask a related question that’s just as important: where’s the public getting its scientific information now?
The results, disappointingly, are that most of them aren’t. For the minority that does see significant scientific information, most of it comes from news outlets. Oddly, however, the public is not impressed with its primary source, as less than 30 percent of those polled thinks that news outlets actually get the science right.
The Pew data comes from a survey of over 4,000 US adults, a big enough sample that the margin of error is only 1.6 percentage points. Within that sample, 30 percent indicated they actively seek out science news. But nearly half of those folks don’t find it, as only 43 percent of them indicate they see science news a few times a week or more. That’s just 17 percent of the overall survey population, a group the Pew refers to as “active science consumers.” Within the survey population at large, 36 percent indicate they see science news a few times a week.