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Poll: Science sites are more accurate than general news outlets

A study from the Pew Research Center reveals that most Americans only get science news a few times a month, and even then they stumble upon the information instead of seeking it out. 36 percent of Americans say they get science news more than a few times per week. 30 percent of those individuals report intentionally seeking it out, while only 17 percent of Americans report actively seeking out and consuming science news.

A survey of 4,024 U.S. adults shows that 54 percent of Americans rely on general news outlets for their science news. Despite this fact, Americans admit that specialty sources such as museums, science magazines and websites (like!), and science documentaries are more likely to be accurate. In fact, nearly half of U.S. adults say that specialty sources have reliable science news most of the time, while only 28 percent believe general news sources get the science facts right most of the time.

With science information being increasingly at the center of public and political issues, it is surprising that more Americans are not actively pursuing it. The 17 percent minority of Americans who seek out science news and consume it most often are more engaged with science information in their personal lives and on social media. They are also more likely to have visited a park or museum in the last year and to have a science-related hobby.

The study reveals that only around 26 percent of social media users follow science accounts. 44 percent of individuals who use social media report seeing science news on these outlets that they have not seen elsewhere. 52 percent say that they mostly distrust the accuracy of the science posts, while 26 percent say they mostly trust science posts on social media.

The research also finds that Republicans and Democrats are equally likely to be active science news consumers and show similar levels of interest in science news. There is a notable difference, however, in opinions about how the media covers science. 64 percent of Democrats say that news media outlets do a good job of covering science compared with 50 percent of Republicans.

“Despite wide political divides in views about some science-related issues, such as climate change and energy, U.S. adults from both sides of the aisle are quite similar in their levels of interest, consumption, and tendency to get science news from general news outlets,” explains researcher Amy Mitchell.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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