Science News and Information Today

Source: Pew Research Center

A majority of Americans rely on general outlets for science news but more say specialty sources get the facts right about science

(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

At a time when scientific information is increasingly at the center of public divides, most Americans say they get science news no more than a couple of times per month, and when they do, most say it is by happenstance rather than intentionally, according to a new study by Pew Research Center. Overall, about a third, 36%, of Americans get science news at least a few times a week, three-in-ten actively seek it out, and a smaller portion, 17%, do both.

And while Americans are most likely to get their science news from general news outlets and say the news media overall do a good job covering science, they consider a handful of specialty sources – documentaries, science magazines, and science and technology museums – as more likely to get the science facts right.

Public debates over science-related policy issues – such as global climate change, vaccine requirements for children, genetically engineered foods, or developments in human gene editing – place continuous demands on the citizenry to stay abreast of scientific developments. In terms of how these and other scientific research issues get communicated, at least four-in-ten U.S. adults see significant problems stemming from media practices, researcher practices and the public, themselves. But when pressed, Americans put more overall blame on the way media cover scientific research than on the way researchers publish or share their findings (73% to 24%).

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