"In eight of 13 science-oriented issues, there was a 20-percentage-point or higher gap separating the opinions of the public and members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)," the Associated Press reported, citing the poll's findings.
For instance, only 57 percent of Americans believe that genetically modified (GM) foods are unsafe, while 88 percent of AAAS scientists insist that GM will not bring you any harm.
Half of the US public opposes the use of animals in scientific research; by contrast, 89 percent of scientists favor it. While 87 percent of AAAS researchers claim that climate change is caused by man, 50 percent of ordinary Americans think otherwise.
Remarkably, a survey carried out by Pew Research Center in 2009 also revealed that while 68 percent of Americans expressed skepticism regarding the theory of evolution, 87 percent of scientists pointed to the key role of natural selection and evolution in the development of human race and other species. Alas, not much has changed since then:
There are also large disparities regarding such issues as childhood vaccination (86 percent of scientists approve it vs. 68 percent of Americans); the world's growing population (82 percent of scientists believe it will pose a serious problem, while only 59 percent of the public share this stance); the use of food grown with pesticides (68 percent of scientists deem it is safe, but only 28 percent of the public agree), etc.
However, the poll also discovered that the majority of AAAS members and US adults believe that science is exceptionally important; they praised American scientific discoveries and achievements as the best in the world. On the other hand, scientists and the US public expressed their concerns about K-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, characterizing it as "below average." Curiously, these are the only similarities between the US citizens and American scientists.
Predictably, 84 percent of AAAS members bemoan the situation, stressing that the fact that "the public does not know very much about science," poses a substantial problem to American society.