Science and Engineering Indicators 2012 and the General Public Opinion

For fun this morning, I typed “Public literacy of science issues” into Google, and I’m glad I did. One of the first results was the National Science Board’s Science and Engineering Indicators report page. Unlike previous reports, the latest report (2012) includes a downloadable ‘digest’ pdf. Here is a digest of the digest:


For the first time, total R & D expenditures broke the trillion dollar barrer:





Here is a look at where U.S. government R & D funding went over the past few years:





Interesting data regarding incoming freshmen intentions and actual degrees awarded in engineering. Half the freshmen who intend to graduate with engineering degree actually do. However, almost all who intend to graduate with a natural science degree do:

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But I digress…public literacy of science issues; here are the highlights:

Good news! 91% of Americans are very or moderately interested in new scientific discoveries. American’s factual knowledge of science is positively related to their formal education level and the number of science and math classes they have taken. Younger generations exhibit higher factual knowledge of science than older generations. American’s understanding of the process of scientific inquiry  is strongly correlated with their level of factual knowledge of science, level of formal education, and the number of completed science and math classes.




Interestingly, Scientist is second only to firefighter in public perception and held with ‘very great prestige’



What is startling to me is the vast difference between scientists’ and general public’s attitudes toward specific science and tech-related issues, especially human activity causing climate change and evolution:



I may have more to post later. This is a lot to take in…


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