The new data from the Science and Technology in Society Monitor on “Italians, science and digital technologies”, published in the seventh edition of the Observa Science in Society Facts and Figures (Il Mulino publishing house).
In 2010, the exposure to scientific contents has increased among Italians, but also critical judgments towards science has risen. And scientific literacy didn’t improve.
These are just a few among several data contained in the 7th edition of the 2011 Science in Society Facts and Figures.
The exposure to technological-scientific contents in the media has considerably increased, particularly on the web: in the last year, users of online scientific contents in Italy have risen from 30.2% to 49.9%, an increase especially significant in young generations – among the 15-29 years old, one out of two is substantially exposed to scientific contents on the web.
However, critical judgments towards science have also risen. Almost seven Italians out of ten emphasize the benefits of science, but 79% (compared with 69% one year ago) believe that science and technology change our lifestyle too quickly; 64% consider science and technology responsible for environmental problems. The number of citizens viewing science as threatening fundamental values such as family and life rises from 32% to 50%.
According to the editors of the book, “this is a trend in line with findings from most developed countries: a greater exposure to scientific contents doesn’t automatically change into more positive attitudes toward science”.
The growth of relevance of web sources may also be part of this dynamic. “While traditional information sources tended to convey a fundamentally consensual picture of science, at least until the recent past, today the web is full of competing sources on any matter, including science, from which you can choose depending on your own expectations”.
In 2010 scientific literacy of Italians remain broadly stable, although displaying some evident gaps: little more than one Italian out of two (52%) knows that the sun is not a planet.
The Science and Technology in Society Monitor conducts a CATI-based survey on a sample of 985 subjects, stratified by gender, age, and geographical area of residence, representative of the Italian population aged over 15.
The 2011 Science in Society Facts and Figures (edited by M. Bucchi and G. Pellegrini), now in its seventh edition, provides, in a brief and accessible format, key data and information to understand the state and transformation of research and innovation of contemporary societies. The Science in Society Facts and Figures benefits from the support of Compagnia di San Paolo and is published by Il Mulino publishing house.
Observa Science in Society is a non-profit, independent, legally recognized research center promoting the study and discussion of the interaction among science, technology and society, with the aim of stimulating dialogue among researchers, policy makers and citizens.