In the News

Science and Tech in an Age of Anxiety

Matthew C. Nisbet

From scientific meetings to corporate board rooms, civil society leaders express deep concern about a loss of public faith in technological innovation and the scientific enterprise.

Rising tensions over issues such as automation, gene editing, and the transition away from fossil fuels are rooted in broader conflicts related to globalization, modernization, inequality, institutional authority, democratic freedom, and respect for traditional values.

To better understand these dynamics, in a new co-authored research paper published by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, we analyzed the 2010–2014 World Values Survey, evaluating public beliefs about science, technology, and society across fifty-four countries and eighty-one thousand survey respondents.

My co-author on the paper is Erik Nisbet, a professor of communication at The Ohio State University, an expert on cross-national survey analysis (and my brother).

In our study, we assessed country-level and individual-level factors predicting survey measures related to optimism about the ability of science and technology to improve society (“scientific optimism”) and those related to reservations about the impact of science and technology on traditional values and the speed of change (“scientific reservations”). . . . 

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The Public Face of Science

Richard Andrew Meserve