A survey commissioned by the Ontario Science Centre has given a blunt depiction of just how stupid a lot of Canadians really are and, by stupid, I mean Tea Party stupid.
Are scientific findings a matter of opinion? Forty-three per cent of Canadians agree that they are, suggests a new poll.
The survey found widespread concerns about fake news — 66 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement that "false information reported as fact (so called 'fake news') is affecting your knowledge of science."
It also uncovered possible evidence of that happening, including a widespread belief in ideas contrary to scientific consensus:
52 per cent of respondents agreed that "genetically modified organisms are bad for your health." (This is an issue where there recently has been the biggest divide between scientists and the public.)
47 per cent (up from 41 per cent last year) agreed that "the science behind global warming is still unclear," despite what scientists have been calling for years "unequivocal" evidence.
19 per cent agree "there is a link between vaccinations and autism," even though the study that made the link was found years ago to be "an elaborate fraud."
She thinks the media are partly to blame for focusing too much on telling both sides of the story: "It doesn't help the public learn how to distinguish true knowledge from mere opinion, if both are given equal weight in a news story."
In many cases, while scientific consensus develops around matters like climate change, scientists coming from different backgrounds may generate findings that appear to conflict with one another.
"Those often find their way into the mass media and can be confusing for members of the general public who actually don't have a clue as to how science works."
That's the bad news but there's more. A study into science literacy in 35 countries ranked Canada 1st.