The Good, the Bad and the Confused: Learn What the World Thinks About Science
Mar 20, 2019

The bad news: Skepticism about science is growing. The good news: 3M is taking big steps to reverse the trend, with the help of journalist Katie Couric, actor Alan Alda and others.

Increasing skepticism about science is one of the key findings in the State of Science Index (SOSI), this year’s just-released global science study sponsored by 3M.

The 2019 SOSI project surveyed more than 14,000 respondents in 14 developed and emerging countries to gauge​ shifting global attitudes toward science.

Plenty of positive findings emerged, including:

  • 88 percent of the world believes that it is important to have a basic knowledge of science regardless of their profession.
  • 58 percent say that if they could go back, they would pursue a career in STEM.
  • 87 percent believe we need science to solve the world’s problems.

“The vast majority of people see the same opportunity with science that we see every day at 3M,” said 3M CEO Mike Roman. “The world needs science more than ever to help solve the toughest challenges facing the planet.”

And yet, despite the encouraging stats, the survey also found that:

  • 88 percent feel science is too complicated and 58 percent believe that scientists are elitists.
  • 45 percent ONLY believe in science that aligns with their personal beliefs.
  • 37 percent of the world thinks you need to be a genius to have a career in science.

An opportunity to humanize science

The survey found that the best way to boost interest in science is to make it relatable.

“We all benefit from science, but it takes effective communication to make science more relatable,” said Jayshree Seth, 3M corporate scientist and chief science advocate. “We know the science community does a great job at communicating with each other, but the world needs scientists to talk about their important work in ways that highlight the benefits to society. By making science more relatable, we can reduce skepticism and fear and also help foster a new generation of scientists and science advocates,” she added.

SOSI’s findings around the need for effective, uncomplicated science communication have inspired us at 3M to take action to help break down the barriers to science. Here’s what we are doing:

  • Scientists as Storytellers guide: We want to inspire and equip scientists to talk about science in a way that is compelling, relatable and relevant, so 3M has created a guide for scientists and science fans everywhere to better communicate science through the art of great storytelling. The guide has practical advice from top communicators like journalist Katie Couric and actor Alan Alda as well as from scientists around the globe. The free download is available here
  • Beyond the Beaker film series: To foster a stronger connection between scientists and the general public, 3M has created a film series that steps outside of the lab and into the everyday lives of 3M scientists. The scientists tell their own stories, and the short films capture them outside of work, revealing the people behind the science by showcasing their diverse backgrounds, hobbies and home lives. View the stories here.
  • Advancing STEM equity: Science enthusiasts can help champion science and the positive impact it has on society by showing their support for STEM education. Through a partnership with the nonprofit organization, 3M will match more than $50,000 in online donations to STEM education initiatives. Once the matching funds have been met, site visitors can still donate via View the STEM projects and donate here.

Interested in learning more? 3M released the full results of the study, including individual country breakdowns across 14 countries, on the SOSI website.

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