How do you see science
With the science barometer, the non-profit organization Wissenschaft im Dialog has been collecting annual attitudes of citizens in Germany towards science and research since 2014. How important is science to people in Germany, how do they find out about it and what makes a good scientist in the eyes of the public?
The good news: According to the 2018 Science Barometer, people's trust in science and research remains stable. 54 percent of those surveyed state that they trust science and research. Only 7 percent have the opposite view. According to the respondents, the most important reason to mistrust scientists is the dependence on donors. At the same time, over two thirds of those questioned feel that the business world has too great an influence on science.
"It is good that people generally have a positive view of science and research," said Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek. “In times of fake news, this trust is a valuable asset and must be preserved. It is therefore a great challenge to communicate the results of science in an understandable manner and to bring the added value of research for society even more to the fore. "
"An assignment to the scientific community"
The results provide a clear picture with regard to the common good orientation of research: for three quarters of the respondents, this is one of the characteristics that a good scientist must have. However, only 40 percent believe that scientists work for the good of society. "If a large number of people are not convinced that scientists are living up to their social responsibility, then this result represents a mandate to the scientific community," says Uta-Micaela Dürig, deputy chairman of the board of the Robert Bosch Foundation, which promotes the science barometer . In order to counteract this skepticism, scientists should reflect more closely on the effects of their own actions and better convey the values and methods of science to citizens. "Orientation towards the common good also means seeking open exchange with as many social groups as possible and not just addressing an academically educated audience," said Dürig.
Television and Internet are the most important sources of information
Television remains the most important source of information for those surveyed: 37 percent watch programs about science and research frequently or very often. The second most important source is the internet. The websites and media libraries used most are by news media such as newspapers, magazines and TV stations. YouTube and social networks play an important role, especially for the groups of schoolchildren and 14 to 29 year olds.
Attitudes to climate change and vaccination
The Science Barometer 2018 also asked about attitudes towards specific topics from science and research such as man-made climate change and the benefits of vaccinations. With more than three quarters of those surveyed, a large majority were convinced of the current state of research on climate change. Only six percent do not believe that climate change is mainly caused by people and their actions. The approval rate for vaccinations is somewhat lower: two thirds of citizens see a benefit.
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