N° 442 July-August 2019

Does the public understanding of chemistry differ from that of science in general?

Pagination : 22-24
Rubrique : IUPAC 2019 Paris, 7-12 July 2019 - Frontiers in Chemistry: let's create our future!
Sous-rubrique : Chemistry and society
FR | EN

The hierarchy of sciences according to members of RSC and the general public (rated on a scale of 1-5, where 1 = not at all scientific and 5 = very scientific).

Chemistry seems to have a reputation problem. Once a source of glamour in Nylon and plastics, since the 1960s, it is associated with the hard path of progress and singled out as the “ugly duck” of dangerous and dirty science. This seems to suggest that the public image of chemistry is far apart from the image of other sciences.

In 2015 the UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) conducted the project “Public understanding of chemistry”. The project included two quantitative surveys, one among RSC members with 455 responses and another one of national opinions with 2,104 respondents. To determine similarities and differences requires criteria of comparison. We consider people’s sense of being informed on the matter, being confident to talk about it, and their sources of information. We gage the image of chemists and the position of chemistry in the hierarchy of sciences. Finally, we evaluate chemistry as an industry and a daily convenience.