3M Survey Reports Decline In Science Skepticism For First Time In 3 Years


Since 2018, 3M has launched an annual State of Science Index to track public attitudes towards science across the world. But for 2020, the company conducted two surveys, a Pre-Pandemic Wave and a Pandemic Pulse Wave survey, finding that science skepticism has declined for the first time in three years, and that there is an increased public understanding of the importance of science in our daily lives.

In the Pre-Pandemic Wave survey, representative samples of 1,000 adults (aged 18+) in 18 countries, including China, Mexico and the US, were asked to complete a 15-20 minute long survey to assess their attitude towards science. Among the pre-pandemic survey findings, there was a rise in science skepticism to 35%, from an original 29% in 2018.

“As the pandemic sort of spread, the question was: has the relationship with science changed for people as this is going on?” says Jayshree Seth, who is a corporate scientist and the chief science advocate at 3M.

In the summer of 2020, 3M launched a second survey, titled the Pandemic Pulse Wave, to understand whether public attitudes changed during Covid-19. 1,000 adults were asked a series of questions in 11 of the 14 countries from the Pre-Pandemic survey. India, Mexico, and South Africa were excluded due to logistical reasons.

When comparing the two surveys, there were a few key findings.

Firstly, there was a decline in science skepticism for the first time in three years. Specifically, when respondents were asked about the following sentence, “I am skeptical of science,” the percent who agreed fell by seven points between the Pre-Pandemic (35%) and Pandemic Pulse (28%).

Similarly, public trust in science has increased from 85% (Pre-Pandemic)