A major new survey of scientists released by the Pew Research Center comes to some of the same conclusions reached by earlier STATS surveys of scientific opinion. The Pew survey can be found here.
From May 1 to June 14, 2009, Pew surveyed a random sample of 2533 members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society. The survey included questions on the causes of global warming and on media coverage of scientific studies. In both cases the findings were virtually identical to those of a 2007 STATS survey of climate scientists and a 2009 STATS survey of toxicologists.
When Pew asked scientists for their opinion of global warming, 84 percent said “the earth is getting warmer because of human activity.” This echoes the finding of STATS’ 2007 survey of 489 climate scientists, 84 percent of whom said they personally believed human-induced warming is now occurring, and 74 percent agreed that “currently available scientific evidence” substantiates its occurrence.
The Pew survey also asked what scientists thought about the media coverage of science in general. Seventy-six percent called it a “major problem” that news reports fails to distinguish between “studies that are well founded and studies that are not.” This finding recalls STATS’ 2009 survey of 937 toxicologists, 67 percent of whom said the news media was very poor at distinguishing between “studies that are statistically rigorous and those that are not.”