Scientists widely accepted: Study

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Scientists and their research are widely viewed in a positive light and a large majority believe that government investments in scientific research yield benefits for society, according to an international research.

The international survey by PEW Research Centre across Europe, United States, Asia Pacific region, Canada Russia and Brazil finds broad agreement about the value of scientific research. The survey showed that 82 per cent of the people participated considers government investment in scientific research worthwhile.

It said that the United States had the largest share of global spending on research and development in the past. However, the PEW Centre says greater investments by Taiwan, South Korea and China was seen in recent years. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development had already stated that China was expected to equal or exceed the US in global Research and Development investments in the coming years.

Public trust and political spectrum

Left leaning people express more trust in scientists than those having right mentality. When 67 per cent of liberal Democrats in the US say they have a lot of trust in scientists, only 17 per cent of conservative Republicans say this. In Canada, 74 per cent who say are left notes that they have a lot of trust in scientists, compared with 35 per cent of Canadians with right-leaning political views. In the UK, there’s a 27 percentage point difference between the shares of those on the left and right who have a lot of trust in scientists. Germany (by 17 points), Sweden (15 points) and Spain (10 points) are among the other places where those on the left are more trusting of scientists than those on the right, the PEW said.

Scientists and Military

The trust in scientists and military varied from place to place. In eight of the places surveyed, military is more trusted than scientists, including in India, U.S. and Russia. However, people in Europe, including in the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, have a lot of trust in scientists than in the military. Singaporeans stand out for comparatively high trust in their national government to do what is right for the country 54 per cent have a lot of trust in the national government, and the same share has a lot of trust in the military.

Education

The research shows that people with more education express higher levels of trust in scientists than those with less education. It states the example of Canada, where 54 per cent with at least some postsecondary education have a lot of confidence in scientists compared with 33% with a secondary education or below. It said that trust in scientists is also higher among people who have taken three or more science courses as part of their postsecondary education. This is seen more in UK, the Netherlands, Australia, the US and Taiwan.

Government investments in scientific research

Majority of the people surveyed in all the regions said that that government investment in scientific research is worthwhile. They also believe that a world leader in scientific achievement is important.

The report also notes that majorities in 18 of the 20 survey publics gave the media positive marks for their science news coverage. However they all agreed that the public did not know enough about science to really understand coverage of scientific.

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