The coronavirus outbreak has stressed the importance of science news and information and there are signs that consumers are paying more attention to science news a US study by the Pew Research Center shows. Engagement with science news is 56% and up from 44% in 2017.
56% of adults say they talk about science news with others at least a few times a month, including 24% who say they talk about science news at least a few times a week. The remaining 43% say they do so less often, according to the survey conducted a year ago..
Engagement with science news in everyday discussion is higher than in a 2017 survey when 44% said they talked about science news with others at least a few times a month.
Online, 48% say they have seen science content on social platforms in the past few weeks, while 33% go further and say they proactively follow a page or account that focuses on science news. The share of social media users who say they follow an account focused on science content is also higher than in 2017, when 26% said they did this.
Overall, three-quarters express some level of interest in following news about science, according to the new survey. 27% say they are very interested in science news, while another 48% say they are somewhat interested.
“Public interest in science news outpaces interest in topics such as business and finance, as well as sports and entertainment, though it is below public interest in news about one’s local community.”
“As expected, those who are very interested in science news are especially likely to say they talk about science news frequently and, among social media users, to follow science-related accounts on social media.”
“Interest in following science news is up modestly from 2017, with the share of adults who are at least somewhat interested 4 percentage points higher than it was then”, the survey says.
“Education is one of the biggest factors behind interest in and engagement with science news and information.”
“Around four-in-ten postgraduates (41%) and 35% of college graduates say they are very interested in following science news, compared with 26% of those with some college experience and 19% of those with a high school diploma or less education.”
“Interest in science news also tends to be higher among men than women, as well as among those with higher than lower family incomes.”
During the pandemic, politicians have expressed opinions about how serious the covid is, how to fight it and how it became a global problem.
“At a moment when debates over science-related issues are often polarized along partisan lines, a large share of Americans express frustration about the amount of partisanship surrounding science news”, the survey shows.
76% say they’ve felt frustrated that there is so much political disagreement in this area. Notably, this sense of frustration is shared by identical shares of Republicans and Democrats (78% each). A separate Center survey found partisan disagreement is also among the top factors Americans believe has contributed to problems the country faced dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.
Majorities say they’ve felt amazed by scientific developments (58%), while the same share say they’ve felt reassured that knowledge is continually being updated when following science news and information.
Still, 57% express some level of confusion when it comes to science news, reporting that they feel it is difficult to know what to think due to so much conflicting information. And half of Americans feel they should be keeping up with new scientific developments more than they currently do; roughly as many (48%) say they don’t feel this way, the survey shows.