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The Sciences

The New Pew Report on Science and America

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyJuly 10, 2009 3:30 AM


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Everybody today wants to know our take on this massive data dump, not surprisingly. Certainly, the timing could not be better, given that our book emerges at the same time as this raft of new information on science and the public, which I've only begun to wade through. Basically, my sense so far is that our book puts the flesh on the bones of the Pew data, but is broadly consistent with it. Pew gives lots of new raw numbers, some of them exceedingly alarming (e.g., "significantly fewer Americans volunteer scientific advances as one of the country’s most important achievements than did so a decade ago [27% today, 47% in May 1999]"); we narrate how things got to be this way. What's really excellent about the Pew study--conducted in partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science--is that it doesn't just do the standard thing, e.g., survey the public and see how bad its responses to standard science questions are. Rather, it surveys *both* the public and a sampling of 2,500 scientists, and instead finds out how *different* they are. This is the whole point of Unscientific America, too--the "two cultures" approach, now with additional survey data--and the answer is: Boy are these two groups different. No wonder they talk past each other. No wonder we have so many conflicts, over science in politics, the media, religion, and more. We'll have more on the Pew data soon. Meanwhile, check out the report...

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