What is science literacy, and what is the status of science literacy in the United States? Is there a connection between science literacy and public support for science? A committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine conducted a study in order to answer these questions, releasing its findings and conclusions in the report Science Literacy: Concepts, Contexts, and Consequences (2016).

Among the committee’s key conclusions:

  • On current measures of science knowledge, U.S. adults perform comparably to adults in other economically
    developed countries.
  • Studies using measures of science knowledge observe a small, positive relation- ship between science literacy
    and attitudes towards and support for science in general. However, the relationship is small, and available
    research does not support the claim that increasing science literacy will lead to appreciably greater support for
    science in general.
  • An individual’s attitude toward science in general does not always predict his or her attitude toward a specific
    science topic (for example, genetic engineering or vaccines). Some specific science issues evoke reactions
    based on worldviews rather than on knowledge of the science alone.
  • While science literacy has historically focused on individual competence, communities can also develop and use
    science literacy, leveraging the varying knowl- edge and skills possessed by different individuals to achieve their
    collective goals.

Dr Allison F Wren
Hardie Wren Development Initiatives Founder