The High Prestige of Science

Ads for everything from cold remedies to cars have been known to give the sales pitch an aura of science. But are consumers as enamored of science and scientists as this phenomenon would seem to presume? Actually, they are, to judge from survey results released this month by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. A landslide majority of respondents to the poll (fielded in April and May) see science as a benefactor to society, with 84 percent describing its effect as “mostly positive.” Just 6 percent said science’s effect on society is “mostly negative.” (The rest were unsure.) Likewise, 70 percent believe scientists contribute “a lot” to society’s well-being. For comparison’s sake, 21 percent said the same about business executives.