How do people view science across the globe?

Published 2018-03-14

Photo: 3M State of Science Index Survey

Understanding how people think of and view science is a complicated process. Recently, the company 3M designed a survey (State of Science Index Survey) to investigate how people across the world view the image, impact, and expectations of science now and into the future. The survey was conducted in 14 countries, both in developed and emerging nations, including Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Singapore, South Africa, the UK, and the US. Over 14,000 adults (age 18+) were surveyed (about 1,000 per nation). Questions were asked of subjects over online and offline formats about their opinions and views of science. Here, "science" was defined as "the process of pursuing knowledge about the world and how things in the world work through gathering, observing, experimenting, and applying truths on a particular subject".

Here are some of the key findings of the survey:

- 90% of people across all nations say that when they hear the word "science" they feel hopeful versus discouraged.
- 72% of people said they would rather have dinner with Bill Gates than Taylor Swift, indicating that scientists may edge out modern pop culture icons.
- 38% said that they didn't think their life would be very different without science and less than - 25% believe that science has a "completely positive" impact on their everyday lives. 66% think that the impact of science on their life is "little to never".
- 87% of people are fascinated by science! But, 32% are skeptical of science, with 77% of skeptics believing that science causes more problems than it solves.
- In developing countries, there are fewer who believe science is important to everyday life (35% as compared to 56% in developed nations).
- 82% said they would encourage their kids to pursue a career in science.
- 66% describe the scientific impacts of the future as "exciting", particularly in young adults.

These results offer a look into the societal views of science. Explore the data yourself at the links below!

A full PDF report of the results is available here: https://multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/1515295O/presentation-3m-state-of-science-index-2018-global-report-pdf.pdf

In addition, you can explore the data by question in an interactive survey data explorer here: https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/company-us/about-3m/state-of-science-index-survey/interactive-3m-state-of-science-survey/