Jon Miller on Civic Scientific Literacy

There’s lots to delve into in Jon Miller’s study of civic scientific literacy, not least that US student jump from poor science performance in high school to high science literacy as adults thanks largely to the mandatory year-long science course most colleges require.

More important, perhaps, is the fact that (using path analyses controlling for age, education, and other relevant social variables) TV viewership has a negative effect on science literacy, while print media consumption has a small positive effect and internet usage has a substantial positive effect. Could this be thanks to 4chan?

Note also that religious fundamentalism/religious activity has no impact on scientific literacy outside the U.S. and Spain. Britain and Germany certainly have religious fundamentalists, but it doesn’t influence science literacy of adherents. Dunno why, but I’ll ask Miller.


  1. #1 Obie
    February 21, 2010

    What does 4chan have to do with anything? Internet useage has a positive effect because people like myself can look up articles on National Geographic, wikipedia at will. If we wonder about something we can feed the human curiosity. If I want to know about the history of Lotto, I can find that information online. Thats why the internet has a positive effect on science literact.

    Your post saddended me. You shouldn’t thank a horrible place such as 4chan for something it has nothing to do with it. Usually I enjoy reading your posts, today was the exception.

  2. #2 Frank Baker
    February 21, 2010

    How do I locate or read Miller’s study? Was it recently published? Your assistance is appreciated.

  3. #3 Josh Rosenau
    February 22, 2010

    Obie: I was having a bit of fun. Yeah, 4chan is awful, but I didn’t want to be overly triumphalist about the internet. As was noted in that and other sessions, the internet makes lots of info available, but creates the new problem of filtering that information. It’s easy for self-reinforcing communities of nutjobs (creationists/climate deniers/etc.) or pranksters to create simulacra of good information that the inexperienced cannot readily distinguish from good stuff, or which seems even more plausible than the real science.

    Frank: Miller says that the data will be published in two forthcoming studies. Email him directly for preprints when they are available, I suppose. He’s at Michigan State University, and is quite approachable. Some of these correlations may already be published elsewhere.

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