Scientific ignorance

Other Names:
Scientific illiteracy
Lack of scientific knowledge
Inadequate public understanding of science

In the UK, surveys indicate that 30% of the public believe that the sun goes around the Earth.

A 1995 report, involving 25,000 people from 20 countries of the world, suggested unusual ignorance of current scientific thinking. Despite events like the one at Chernobyl, only 14 per cent of Poles and 23 per cent of Russians knew that radioactivity occurs naturally as well as being man-made. Only one-third of Spaniards knew that the car was an environmental hazard, but most did know about the extinction of plant and animal life because of threats to the environment in Spain's mountainous regions. There was even widespread confusion over two of the most widely debated environmental topics: global warming and ozone depletion.


Although communications technology is highly developed, and storage and retrieval systems are achieving a promising stage of performance, and the store of scientific knowledge is accumulating at an alarming rate, people are still woefully uninformed, to the point where their ability to affect their own social survival is paralyzed. Appropriation of new knowledge into an understandable framework is impossible; the individual finds even the task of keeping expertise up-to-date faltering. People feel victimized by not being able to participate in the decisions affecting their lives.

Counter Claim:

The content of science is alien to ordinary experience and the culture of science is alien to the values endorsed by the arts. Art is seen to elevate humanity. A machine degrades it. Objectivity disempowers because it depersonalizes.

Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality
Date of last update
20.05.2019 – 16:28 CEST