Pew Research: Public’s Knowledge of Science and Technology

The Pew Research Institute recently released a new report entitled Public’s Knowledge of Science and Technology. From the press release:

The public’s knowledge of science and technology varies widely across a range of questions on current topics and basic scientific concepts, according to a new quiz by the Pew Research Center and Smithsonian magazine. Click here to take the quiz yourself before reviewing the answers.

About eight-in-ten Americans (83%) identify ultraviolet as the type of radiation that sunscreen protects against. Nearly as many (77%) know that the main concern about the overuse of antibiotics is that it can lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. However, only about half (51%) of the public knows that “fracking” is a process that extracts natural gas, not coal, diamonds or silicon from the earth.

Similarly, knowledge of basic scientific concepts differs greatly across questions. While most Americans (78%) know that the basic function of red blood cells is to carry oxygen to all parts of the body, just 20% could identify nitrogen as the gas that makes up most of the atmosphere.

See also Smithsonian Magazine’s recent article “How Much Do Americans Know About Science?”

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