A few weeks ago I highlighted this relevant finding from the massive amount of data contained in Pew's annual State of the Media report. And Chris highlighted the results of this separate survey. The posts grabbed the attention of a reporter for Science and the news nuggets are featured in the latest edition of the magazine with some quick analysis from me.
SCIENCE OFF THE AIR
Nearly half of Americans cannot name a "role model" scientist, living or dead. And only 11% can come up with the name of a living one, according to a survey released last week by the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois. And whom do they think of most often? Bill Gates and Al Gore. Each was named by 6% of the sample, on a par with Albert Einstein. Most respondents also reported that citizens' ignorance of science is "a detriment to our nation."
A possible source of the problem emerged from another study released last week by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. It found that for every 5 hours of U.S. cable television news, only 2 minutes are devoted to science or the environment. By contrast, the same period contains 10 minutes of celebrity news and nearly half an hour on crime.
Given the priorities in their major news outlets, "it's not surprising that in polls, few Americans rank climate change or the environment as a top political priority or even a major national problem," says Matthew Nisbet, a social scientist at American University in Washington, D.C.