Science communication could help close the gap between the scientific community and the common citizen, according to experts.
In 2017, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences partnered with the Carnegie Institution for Science and hosted a meeting in Washington, D.C., which focused on communicating science in the “Age of Disbelief.”
Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities and former president of the University of Iowa, gave a speech about the importance of science literacy for Americans.
“Civic science literacy is the ability of people to understand and use scientific or technological information in public policy discussions and decisions, which is really key to our democracy,” Coleman said in her presentation.
The current science literacy of American citizens is a concern to many scientists and scientific leaders, including Coleman.
“Our civic scientific literacy stands now at about 28 percent in the country, and that is based on a straightforward 11-question science facts test,” Coleman said. “And it has been at that level for about the past decade.”
Richard Meserve, a lawyer and president emeritus of the Carnegie Institution for Science, said there is a clear difference between the scientific community and the general public in regards to scientific understanding and agreement.
“Although the public thinks highly of scientists, there are many issues in which there are very stark differences between the perspectives of the scientific community and those of the general public,” Meserve said. “The differences in many instances are correlated with age, gender, political party, ethnicity, educational attainment or wealth.”
These differences contribute to the growing gap between the scientific community and civilians.
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