What do you think people think about science and technology?

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With this year’s National Science Week (Aug 10-18) just past, many people are now thinking busily about science. So here’s a quick poll:

  • What percentage of Australians are interested in science and technology or think it important to their lives?
  • What makes a good poll on Australian attitudes to science and technology?


There are multiple different answers to the first question, which tell us something about how to answer the second question. So let’s look at some of the many different findings before looking at the second question.

In 2010 the Australian National University (ANU) published a study on people’s attitudes to science that headlined with the finding that Australians are more interested in science than sport.

The study found a whopping 90% or more of those interviewed (1,200 people by random phone poll) stated they were very or moderately interested in new scientific discoveries. (Which is not quite the same as being interested in science itself, of course.)

Written By: Craig Cormick and Oona Nielssen
continue to source article at theconversation.com

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  1. People don’t reject the science behind these because they are scientifically illiterate, nor uneducated. They are often highly both. But they have fundamental values that some science and technology clashes strongly with.

    Well, this just goes to show that their values are wrong.

    And once you have a deeper understanding of those values you can actually frame communication, engagement or education activities to work with them rather than clash with them.

    Seems a bit condescending and manipulative to me, not to mention extremely dishonest. Why not rather teach people how to reason rationally for themselves?

    • In reply to #1 by Peter Grant:

      Why not rather teach people how to reason rationally for themselves?

      For the same reason you don’t expect everyone to be able to run a six minute mile or to draw portraits. People have different natural talents, and by the time they reach adulthood those have been drawn out to different extents. It gets a lot harder to improve an ability once you’re older. It would be good to bring a majority up to those standards, but I’m not clear how you’d do it without some element of compulsion. Even if it were possible, how should one behave in the mean time? Pretend these people don’t exist?

      The trick, I think, it to appeal to such people without losing or corrupting the finer detail.

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