87% Go Online for Science News & Info; Top 6 Science Issues of Interest

Some 87% of online users in U.S. (128 million) have at one time used the internet to carry out research on a scientific topic or concept, while 40 million Americans use the internet as their primary source of news and information about science, according to Pew Internet & American Life Project in collaboration with the Exploratorium

For young adults with high-speed connections at home, the internet is the most popular source for science news and information by a 44% to 32% margin over television. 

Most of those searches would begin with search engines. Nearly three quarters (71%) of internet users say they turn to the internet for science news and information because it is convenient.
Two-thirds (65%) say they have encountered news and information about science when they have gone online for a different reason in mind.

Science Issues of Interest to the Public in U.S.

 

Very interested

Somewhat interested

Not at all interested

Changes in the Earth’s climate

42%

39%

18%

The human genome and DNA

36

41

22

The origins of life on this planet

35

40

24

Space and space exploration

31

41

28

Stem cell research

31

40

26

The origins of the universe

29

37

33

Source:Pew Internet & American Life Project Survey, January 2006. N= 2,000 

Users of the internet for science information also report better attitudes about the role science plays in society and higher assessments of how well they understand science. Specifically:

  • 78% of those who have gotten science information online describe themselves as “very” or “somewhat” informed about new scientific discoveries; 58% of remaining internet users says this.
  • 48% strongly agree that to be a strong society, the United States needs to be competitive in science; 33% of remaining online users strongly agree with this.
  • 43% strongly agree that scientific research is essential to improving the quality of human lives; 27% of remaining online users say this.

The report also showed that many Americans visit science museums and websites whose main focus is on science. Three in five Americans (59%) have been to some sort of science museum in the past year, such as a zoo or aquarium, natural history museum, science or technology museum, or planetarium. 

Half (49%) of internet users have gone to a website whose content is devoted to science, such as the Smithsonian’s website or NationalGeographic.com.

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