Attitudes to Science

As part of its annual Science Week, Science Foundation Ireland has commissioned Amárach Research to investigate the attitudes and beliefs of the Irish public and science community about some of the biggest questions in science today.

The vast majority of the public and scientists have a generally positive view of science, with 89% of scientists and 64% of the public agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement that science has had a positive impact on people’s lives in Ireland. 

Findings:

  • Climate change – 69% of Irish public surveyed (92% of the science community) agreed that the earth is getting warmer as a result of climate change.  Almost the same number (68%) of the Irish public surveyed (92% of the science community) agreed that climate change was mostly due to human activity. 
  • GMO foods – When asked if they thought it was safe to eat food with pesticides, over half of the Irish public thought it was not safe.   43% of those surveyed also thought that genetically modified foods were not safe to eat, with only 14% of the science community feeling the same way on that issue. 
  • Vaccines – 64% of the Irish public surveyed (95% of the science community) agreed that vaccinations were an acceptable form of preventative medical treatment.
  • Evolution – 29% of the Irish public surveyed (12% of the science community) agreed that humans evolved over time guided by a supreme being.  55% of the Irish public surveyed (92% of science community) believed that life on earth, including humans, evolved through a process of natural selection.

The findings from the survey showed that 38% of the public believe that Ireland performs well internationally in relation to scientific achievements (rising to 64% among the Irish science community).  However, 69% of the public did not know of any Irish scientists, past or present, and 72% of the public could not name any Irish scientific achievements.

Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Strategy and Communications at Science Foundation Ireland said: “This survey showed that Irish people are proud of Irish science achievements and that they want to know more about the research that is happening in Ireland now, and what we have achieved in the past. This survey reinforces that people want to understand more about science and to engage further with it – 60% of the public said they were interested in science news.”

“Science Week is a brilliant opportunity to explore the world of science and technology that surrounds us all, to understand more about how it is playing an increasing role in our lives and to learn about Ireland’s brilliant science heritage as well as discoveries being made in Ireland every day.  Science helps us to ask and answer the questions, solve the problems and to consider what is next. This Science Week, we want as many people as possible to get involved and ask the questions that matter to them - the questions that have always made them curious.”

Taking place from the 12th – 19th November, Science Week 2017 is an opportunity for people to #StopAndAsk questions that they’ve always wanted to know about the world around them.  People of all ages are being encouraged to ask their question on social media, whether it’s: “why do I experience fear?”, “how can I kick the perfect penalty?” or even “is there any truth to the ‘sunny South-East’?”. 

The aim of the #StopAndAsk campaign is to enable society to make sense of the world around them and to facilitate conversations between the general public and the scientific community in Ireland.

About the survey

Commissioned by Science Foundation Ireland, Amarach Research undertook a national online survey of 1001 Irish people and 238 members of the science community across industry and academia in mid-October. The topics covered included climate change, renewable energy, vaccines as preventative medicine, the existence of a supreme being, the big bang, GMO foods, science education, bioengineering, scientific achievements and perceptions about the position of science in Ireland.

About Science Week

Hundreds of events are being held nationwide to celebrate Science Week from the 12th to the 19th of November. For a full list of the thrilling science shows, hands-on workshops and talks across the country, visit the Science Week website www.scienceweek.ie.

To join the conversation, use the hashtag #StopAndAsk and tweet, Instagram or Facebook your question - Science Week 2017 through Science Foundation Ireland, its partners and the science community will aim to answer the best questions throughout the week.

Science Weeks official accounts are:

Twitter: @ScienceWeek or https://twitter.com/ScienceWeek

Facebook: @ScienceWeekIreland or https://www.facebook.com/ScienceWeekIreland/

Instagram: scienceireland or https://www.instagram.com/scienceireland/

The hashtag for the Science Week campaign is: #StopAndAsk

DOWNLOAD THE SURVEY FINDINGS HERE

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