Last month, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences launched a three year initiative to address the complex relationship between scientists and the public. The Public Face of Science project will explore the interactions of the general public with science, technology, medicine and related areas.
Throughout the 20th century, polls have consistently indicated strong public support for science and technology, especially during the Cold War decades following World War 2. But recent polling data, - and in particular, a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center, - reveals a more complex relationship between the public and science. While scientific achievements are still recognized and valued, there is a large opinion gap between the general public and scientists on a number of scientific issues.
The Pew findings were released in a January, 2015 report based on two surveys of science-related issues conducted in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The first survey is based on a representative sample of 2,002 general public adults and was conducted by landline and mobile phones. The second survey was conducted online, and is based on a representative sample of 3,748 US-based scientists who are members of AAAS.