Select Committee on Science and Technology Third Report


APPENDIX 6

Survey Data on Public Attitudes to Science

Table 1

SELF-REPORTED LEVELS OF INTEREST IN


Sports in the news
Politics
New medical discoveries
New films
New inventions and technologies
New scientific discoveries
%
%
%
%
%
%

Very interested
29.0
15.7
43.8
16.4
34.6
35.7
Moderately interested
37.2
52.2
45.8
43.2
47.8
45.8
Not at all interested
33.5
31.7
10.0
40.0
17.2
18.0
(Don't know)
0.1
0.1
0.2
0.1
0.2
0.3
(Refusal/NA)
0.3
0.3
0.3
0.3
0.3
0.3


  Source: Durant/Bauer 1996.

Table 2

CONFIDENCE

IF THEY MADE A STATEMENT ABOUT BSE


In whom would you have most confidence?
In whom would you have next most confidence?
In whom would you have least confidence?
%
%
%

A scientist in a government department
4.6
11.3
26.4
A scientist in a consumer organisation
18.0
35.4
1.5
A scientist in a university
42.0
23.0
0.5
A scientist in the meat industry
26.7
8.8
13.5
A scientist writing in a newspaper
0.9
10.1
2.4
A journalist writing in a newspaper
0.4
1.1
52.0
(None of these)
4.5
2.0
1.0
(Don't Know)
2.3
3.0
2.1
(Refusal/NA)
0.6
5.2
0.6


IF THEY MADE A STATEMENT ABOUT THE SAFETY OF NUCLEAR POWER STATIONS


In whom would you have most confidence?
In whom would you have next most confidence?
In whom would you have least confidence?
%
%
%

A scientist in a government department
4.5
13.6
20.6
A scientist in an environmental campaign group
21.0
26.9
2.8
A scientist in a university
43.2
23.7
0.3
A scientist in the nuclear power industry
22.9
12.7
16.4
A scientist writing in a newspaper
1.4
11.6
2.0
A journalist writing in a newspaper
0.3
1.1
53.2
(None of these)
3.1
2.3
1.0
(Don't know)
3.0
4.3
3.0
(Refusal/NA)
0.6
3.7
0.6


  Source: Durant/Bauer 1996.

Table 3

UNDERSTANDING AND ATTITUDES

Understanding Methods of Scientific Analysis

EXPERIMENT, CONTROL GROUP AND PROBABILITY CORRECT ANSWERS FOR EC12, 1992 IN PER CENT


Country
Experiment
Control Group
Probability
Average

Denmark
56
84
76
72
United Kingdom
58
79
74
70
Netherlands
49
79
79
69
Luxembourg
48
70
74
64
Belgium
48
70
72
63
France
44
70
71
62
EC12
45
65
71
60
Germany (West)
41
57
79
59
Germany (East)
44
51
78
58
Ireland
40
68
64
57
Italy
42
64
66
57
Spain
46
59
63
56
Greece
34
57
61
51
Portugal
19
53
45
39


  Source: Eurobarometer Surveys.







Table 4

BENEFIT, RISK AND MORALITY





Table 5

TRUST

  First of all, I would like to begin by reading out a list of different types of people. For each, would you tell me whether you generally trust them to tell the truth or not?


Tell truth
Not tell truth
Don't know

%
%
%
Doctors
89
8
3
Teachers
88
7
5
Clergymen or priests
86
9
5
Television news readers
75
17
8
The Police
70
23
7
The ordinary man or woman in the street
58
26
16
Civil servants
52
35
13
Trade Union Officials
40
39
21
Government Scientists
38
46
16
Business leaders
35
49
16
Politicians generally
19
73
8
Government Ministers
17
71
12
Journalists
10
82
8


  Thinking now about pollution, which two or three, if any, of these sources would you trust most to advise you on the risks posed by pollution?


%

Pressure Groups (eg Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth)
61
Independent Scientists (eg university professors)
60
Television
25
Government Scientists
23
Friends or family
15
Newspapers
14
Government Ministers
6
Private companies
5
Politicians generally
4
Civil servants
3
Other
*
None of these
2
Don't know
2


  Now thinking about BSE, which two or three of these sources would you trust most to advise you on the risks posed by BSE?


%

Independent Scientists (eg university professors)
57
Farmers
22
National Farmers Union
21
Civil Servants at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
18
Government Scientists
17
Television
16
Newspapers
12
Food Manufacturers
11
Friends/family
9
Supermarkets
6
Government Ministers
4
Politicians generally
2
Other
1
None of these
4
Don't know
3


  Source: Better Regulation Task Force/MORI 9-19 January 1999. Base: 1,015 adults aged 16+.

Table 6

BENEFICIAL DEVELOPMENTS


Q.  On this card is a list of various scientific developments. Which two or three would you say have been beneficial for society as far as you are aware?
Q.  And which two or three would you say have not been beneficial for society, as far as you are aware?
Beneficial
%
Not
Beneficial
%
NET
%

Medicines/New drugs/Penicillin/Antibiotics/Vaccines etc
57
1
+56
Transplants eg of heart, liver, kidneys etc
51
1
+50
Cures for or eradication of illnesses/diseases
43
1
+42
New operations/Surgery
31
*
+31
Computers/The Internet/E-mail
28
4
+24
Genetic testing or screening for particular things, eg diseases
24
2
+22
Discovering global warming/Climate Change/Disruption to weather patterns/Greenhouse Effect
19
6
+13
New and alternative sources of energy
17
4
+13
New telecommunications (fax machine/mobile phone/TV)
14
5
+9
Test tube babies/In-vitro fertilisation
11
9
+2
Faster/cheaper travel
6
16
-10
Robots in industry and medicine
3
18
-15
Splitting the atom
4
20
-16
Space Research/Sending people to the moon
2
25
-23
Genetic modification/engineering of animals and plants
1
28
-27
Genetically modified food
1
45
-44
Cloning/Dolly the sheep
2
57
-55
Other
*
*
No. none spring to mind
*
5
Don't know
*
1


  Source:  MORI/OST 13 March to 14 April 1999. Base: 1,109 British adults.

Table 7

REGULATION OF BIOSCIENCES

  Q.  Which, if any, of the following types of people should be involved in making decisions on your behalf in the regulation of the biological sciences?

  Q.  And for each of these types of people or institutions, would you tell me whether you trust them or not, to make decisions on your behalf in the regulation of the biological sciences?


Should be
involved
Trust
Not trust
Don't know
Not trust
%
%
%
%
±%

GPs/Family Doctors
37
71
13
16
+58
Hospital Doctors
36
69
13
18
+56
An Advisory Body to Government, composed of people representing different viewpoints
48
66
13
21
+53
An Advisory Body to Government, composed of experts
45
62
19
19
+43
Pharmacists/Chemists
22
56
20
24
+36
Environmental Groups
40
56
21
23
+35
Nurses
10
54
20
26
+34
Vets
17
54
22
24
+32
Scientists
47
55
26
19
+29
Consumer Groups
31
48
26
27
+22
The General Public
46
43
30
27
+13
Patients
19
35
32
33
+3
Animal Welfare Groups
26
35
38
27
-3
Governments
41
35
43
23
-8
Sociologists
12
27
36
37
-9
Farmers
17
26
50
24
-24
Religious organisations
12
22
51
27
-29
The Media
11
12
69
20
-57
Industry/manufacturers
16
11
70
19
-59
Retailers
7
9
70
21
-61
Other
2
No-one/None of these
*
Don't know
1


  Source: MORI/OST 13 March-14 April 1999. Base: 1,109 British adults.

Table 8

BIOSCIENCES: RIGHT OR WRONG?


Q.  Now thinking about biological developments again, what things, if any, do you think you would personally take into account if you were deciding whether a particular development was right or wrong?
First
mention
%
Any
mention
%

Whether it would help people/be beneficial
15
33
Whether it harmed people
10
29
Ethics/Morals/Whether it was right or wrong/whether it was for the general good
12
22
Whether it had been tested properly/was safe
5
20
Whether the benefits outweighed the risks
8
19
Whether it had side effects
3
17
Whether animals would be harmed
6
16
Whether it interfered with nature
5
16
Consideration for future generations
3
11
Whether it was controllable/well regulated
2
9
Whether it was useful to me/people
2
9
(Others 5% and below omitted)
Don't know
1
Any mention
82


  Source: MORI/OST 13 March-14 April 1999. Base: 1,109 British adults.

Table 9

EXPERIMENTS ON ANIMALS

Q1.a

  On balance, do you agree or disagree that scientists should be allowed to conduct any experiments on live animals?

Q1.b

  Some scientists are developing and testing new drugs to reduce pain, or developing new treatments for life-threatening diseases such as leukaemia and AIDS. By conducting experiments on live animals, scientists believe they can make more rapid progress than would otherwise have been possible. On balance, do you agree or disagree that scientists should be allowed to conduct any experiments on live animals? Single code only.


Q1a
(949)
%
Q1b
(1,060)
%
Difference
1a-1b
±

Strongly agree
4
13
+9
Tend to agree
20
32
+12
Neither agree nor disagree
11
13
+2
Tend to disagree
20
16
-4
Strongly disagree
44
25
-19
Don't know
1
2
+1
AGREE
24
45
+21
DISAGREE
64
41
-23
NET AGREE
-41
+4
+45


  Source:  New Scientist/MORI 5-8 March 1999. Base: 2,009 adults aged 15+.


To test whether an ingredient for use in cosmetics will be harmful to people
To enable scientists to study how the sense of hearing works
To test whether a garden insecticide will be harmful to people
To ensure that a new painkilling drug is safe and effective
To develop a new painkilling drug
To ensure that a new vaccine against the virus that causes AIDS is safe and effective
To develop a new vaccine against the virus that causes AIDS
To ensure that a new drug to cure leukaemia in children is safe and effective
To develop a new drug to cure leukaemia in children
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Live mice—no pain, illness or surgery
Approve
38
70
56
74
73
77
77
83
83
Disapprove
61
27
42
24
25
20
19
15
15
Don't know
2
3
3
2
2
3
3
2
2
Live mice—pain, illness or surgery
Approve
12
36
29
47
47
56
57
65
65
Disapprove
86
61
68
49
50
39
39
32
32
Don't know
2
4
3
4
3
5
4
4
4
Live mice—some may die
Approve
13
39
32
50
48
59
60
69
68
Disapprove
84
57
65
46
47
36
36
28
28
Don't know
2
5
3
5
4
5
4
4
3
Live monkeys—no pain, illness or surgery
Approve
30
56
43
65
64
69
69
75
75
Disapprove
68
40
53
31
32
28
28
23
22
Don't know
2
4
3
4
3
3
3
2
2
Live monkeys—pain, illness or surgery
Approve
6
21
16
35
35
44
44
52
52
Disapprove
91
75
81
61
60
52
52
44
44
Don't know
2
4
3
4
4
4
4
5
5
Live monkeys—some may die
Approve
5
22
17
34
33
42
43
53
53
Disapprove
92
73
79
61
63
53
53
43
43
Don't know
2
5
4
4
4
4
4
4
5


  Source: New Scientist/MORI 5-8 March 1999. Base: 2,009 adults aged 15+.

Table 10

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

  Q.  Do you agree or disagree? "Even the scientists don't really know what they're talking about when it comes to the environment".


1989
1992
1993
1995
1996
1997
1998
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

General Public
Agree
36
37
41
36
49
41
Disagree
37
38
34
35
33
37
Net agree
-1
-1
+7
+1
+16
+4
Environment Journalists
Agree
19
21
31
16
Disagree
65
63
62
60
Net agree
-46
-42
-31
-44


  Source:  MORI Annual Business and the Environment study and Environment Journalists survey. (Don't knows omitted).

  Base: c. 1,000 British adults each year, c. 25 environment journalists each year.


 
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