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Australians and science

A new poll has shown, they say, that Australians are more interested in science than sport, and think politicians should pay attention to the scientists (are you listening, Tony Abbott?). At least half think we should rely more on science than faith. This is good, and better than some, but not, I think, ideal. The full report can be downloaded from here. I put the summary findings below the fold:

Knowledge and interest in science

  • The Australian public is more interested in science (in particular health issues, medical discoveries and environmental issues) than news about sport, films or politics.
  • Despite this interest, a large number of people feel poorly informed about science.
  • Australians also highly rate the contribution of scientists to society, valuing their contribution above that of nearly all other professions.

Science and life

  • Australians are overwhelmingly positive about both the potential and the benefits of science, with over 85 per cent feeling that it has made life easier for most people.
  • However, this confidence is tempered with a belief that science is not solving the problems of poverty and hunger around the world.

Science and religion

  • Australians are split on the association between religion and science. Three in 10 believe we depend too much on science and not enough on faith, while five in 10 reject this idea.
  • Australians see more conflict between science and religion in broader society than people in the US. Just over two thirds of respondents saw such conflict in Australia, compared with just over half in America.

Science and climate change

  • The Australian public remains divided and unsure about climate science. Four respondents in 10 think that most climate scientists disagree over whether the Earth has been warming. One third think most climate scientists disagree about the human causes of this warming.

Science and policy

  • Australians are proud of Australian science, with 60 per cent of respondents considering it above average or the best in the world.
  • However, Australians are less pleased with government, feeling that politicians do not adequately consider scientific advice, or adequately regulate industry.

Key trends: most important problems and political mood

  • Though Australians remain largely positive about the direction in which the country is heading, this ANUpoll marks the lowest point in satisfaction seen since ANUpoll began, with approximately three respondents in 10 dissatisfied with the way the country is heading.
  • A significant increase has been seen in the number of people viewing ‘better government’ as the key problem facing Australia.


  1. Interesting. Yet, I find it hard to believe as a proud Melbournian that science is of greater interest than sport.

    • John S. Wilkins John S. Wilkins

      What is the spo…rt you speak of? Is it one of the humanities?

  2. Brian Brian

    ‘Australians are proud of Australian science, with 60 per cent of respondents considering it above average or the best in the world.’
    I put that down to parochialism. Australians are proud of anything Strayan. Our bogans are the best mate!

  3. Sam C Sam C

    Sport? Did somebody mention cricket? Ripping!

    [Ducks, and runs to extra cover.]

  4. Susan Silberstein Susan Silberstein

    Everybody lies.

  5. Even though I’m Australian (Perth) and am interested in science, from my general experience I’d say that we as a nation are far more interested in sport than science.

    [Advertising edited out. – JSW ]

  6. John Monfries John Monfries

    So it’s an unreliable survey?

    Damn, for a moment I thought we might actually have some good news, what with floods, spineless governments, Wikileaks etc. Don’t even mention cricket.

  7. Ian H Spedding FCD Ian H Spedding FCD

    Well, we know that cricket was being taught by the philosophy department of at least one major Australian university with the political science course covering “Machiavelli, Bentham, Locke, Hobbes, Sutcliffe, Bradman, Lindwall, Miller, Hassett, and Benet.”

    Although they mispelt Tony Lock’s name. He was a fine slow-to-medium left-arm positivist in his day.

    • John S. Wilkins John S. Wilkins

      Ah, spit! Oh, well, crack a tube!

  8. Robin Craw Robin Craw

    And New Zealand’s better than Australia, UK and US! Just as well we’re not an Australian State, yet…

    • John S. Wilkins John S. Wilkins

      Give us time. Once we’re done with Afghanistan…

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