43% of Canadians believe scientific findings are ‘a matter of opinion’: poll

Click to play video: 'Scientific findings are ‘a matter of opinion,’ 43% say in poll'
Scientific findings are ‘a matter of opinion,’ 43% say in poll
Almost half of Canadians – 43 oer cent – believe scientific findings are a “matter of opinion,” according to a new poll by the Ontario Science Centre – Sep 18, 2017

Almost half of Canadians – 43 per cent –  believe scientific findings are ‘a matter of opinion,’ a poll released Monday shows.

At the same time, 81 per cent said that scientific findings were ‘objective facts,’ which means that over a third of the poll’s respondents, 38 per cent, believe both.

Those who described themselves as ‘intuitive/gut feel decision-makers’ were more likely to see science as a matter of opinion, while people who said they were ‘analytical’ were more likely to see it as fact. Older Canadians were more likely to see science as a matter of opinion.

The Ontario Science Centre surveyed about 1,500 Canadians about their perceptions of science in August.

The poll,  by Leger, also showed that Canadians fear that fake science news will harm public knowledge of science.

Story continues below advertisement

Majorities feared that “false information reported as fact” would affect their knowledge of the world (68 per cent) and affect their knowledge of science (66 per cent). And 79 per cent feared that fake news “will have a negative impact on public perception of scientific inquiry and discovery.”

READ MORE: Earth won’t be cast into weeks of darkness in November, or at any other time

Read next: Parents abandon their ticketless baby at Israeli airport check-in

The murkier corners of the Internet abound in fake reports in some way related to science.  In the past few months, readers of dubious sites have been told that Hurricane Irma was sucking sharks into the air and depositing them inland, that an “astronomical event between Jupiter and Venus” would cause two weeks or darkness in November, and that women absorb and retain DNA from every man they have sex with.

WATCH: Outspoken science education advocate and former TV host Bill Nye has written a new book, “Everything All At Once: How To Unleash Your Inner Nerd, Tap Into Radical Curiosity And Solve Any Problem.”

Click to play video: 'Bill Nye discusses new book, makes renewed call for proper science education'
Bill Nye discusses new book, makes renewed call for proper science education

The poll also showed Canadians divided about global warming, with roughly equal numbers agreeing or disagreeing with the statement that “the science behind global warming is still unclear.”

Story continues below advertisement

And 19 per cent said they thought there was a link between vaccinations and autism, roughly in line with earlier polls.

READ MORE: 20 per cent still think vaccines could cause autism: poll

Read next: Young couple who danced in viral video handed lengthy jail sentence in Iran

Canadians have clear views about where to get reliable scientific information. In declining order of trust:

  • Museums and science centres (89 per cent)
  • Scientists (88 per cent)
  • Educational institutions (87 per cent)
  • Friends and family (80 per cent)
  • Journalists (57 per cent)
  • Government (43 per cent)
  • Comedians (29 per cent)
  • Religious leaders (25 per cent)
  • Bloggers and social media influencers (18 per cent)
  • Celebrities (9 per cent)

Several prominent celebrities have argued against vaccinating children.

READ MORE: Taking celebrity health advice can be risky, may be scientifically unproven: study

Read next: Will winter end soon? Canadian groundhogs split on spring calls

Although reporters were more trusted than government to present scientific information, 68 per cent felt science reporting was “reported selectively to support news media objectives,” and 46 per cent said it was “too shallow to be useful.”

The online poll surveyed 1,514 people on August 15 and 16. Leger states its margin of error as plus or minus 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

WATCH: Pope Francis told reporters Sunday that climate change should be taken seriously and deniers should heed warnings from scientists.

Click to play video: 'Pope says ‘we cannot joke’ about climate change, should trust science'
Pope says ‘we cannot joke’ about climate change, should trust science

Sponsored content