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‘State of science’ survey suggests it is under appreciated

March 6 (UPI) — A new survey funded by chemical and manufacturing company 3M suggests “science” is under appreciated by the world’s population.

“We wanted to understand what the pulse of science was, what the sentiment about science was around the globe,” Jayshree Seth, 3M’s chief science advocate, told UPI Tuesday, when the survey was released.

In many ways, survey respondents offered mixed messages. Most are optimistic about the ability of science to solve problems, and most said they would encourage their children to pursue a science degree or career. But only half of the respondents said they regretted not pursuing a career in the sciences.

Many remain skeptical of the promise of science. More than 40 percent believe science causes as many problems as it solves.

“The biggest surprise was 4 out of 10 people said that if science didn’t exist, their lives would be the same,” Seth said. “The responses suggest some lack of awareness and appreciation of the benefits of science.”

Nearly a third of all respondents said they’re skeptical of science, and 20 percent distrust scientists. Some 36 percent said a career in science was only possible for “geniuses.”

The survey, carried out by Ipsos, a global market research firm, posed questions about science to 14,036 adults living in 14 countries.

Respondents in developing countries — nations with less mature but quickly expanding economies — were more likely to be optimistic about scientific advancements and the possibility for breakthroughs like flying cars and manipulation of the weather.

Seth and her colleagues at 3M hope the survey will serve as a catalyst for conversations about the value of science, and that those conversations might lead to solutions about how to make science more accessible to everyone. More work needs to be done to address the gender gap in science, too, Seth said.

Breaking down the barriers to science appreciation and participation is vital to inspiring the next generation of problem solvers.

“We need a strong innovation pipeline with diverse thinking to unlock the secrets to a sustainable future,” Seth said.

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