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Public understanding of science in Britain: the role of medicine in the popular representation of science

Public understanding of science in Britain: the role of medicine in the popular representation of science

Abstract

This paper is based on the results of a random sample survey of the adult population of Britain. The survey was designed to explore public interest in, attitudes towards and understanding of science. The paper operationalizes the notion of scientific understanding, and applies the understanding measure in the analysis of social representations of science. The results suggest: first, that a so-called `deficit model' of public understanding of science is useful for certain well-defined analytical purposes; second, that there are significant differences between professional and popular representations of science, and third, that medical science may be paradigmatic for the popular representation of science in Britain.
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