Friday, December 1, 2006

Public Attitudes about Science in the UK

The following list was published in the third report of the House of Lord's Select Committee on Science and Society. It was published in 2000 but it still rings true today.
  • The perceived purpose of science is crucial to the public response.
  • People now question all authority, including scientific authority.
  • People place more trust in science which is seen as "independent".
  • There is still a culture of governmental and institutional secrecy in the United Kingdom, which invites suspicion.
  • Some issues currently treated by decision-makers as scientific issues in fact involve many other factors besides science. Framing the problem wrongly by excluding moral, social, ethical and other concerns invites hostility.
  • What the public finds acceptable often fails to correspond with the objective risks as understood by science. This may relate to the degree to which individuals feel in control and able to make their own choices.
  • Underlying people's attitudes to science are a variety of values. Bringing these into the debate and reconciling them are challenges for the policy-maker.

COMMENTS from the original blog

2006-12-01 12:47:40 stefano
Would Americans Hold the Same Attitudes
I wonder, for example, if Americans have the same degree of trust in science?  Is American science seen as independent as that of the UK?

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