[ASC-list] Scientific literacy of our leaders?

Nancy Longnecker nancy.longnecker at uwa.edu.au
Wed Feb 22 05:56:55 UTC 2012

You can't control all factors in most/ any studies involving humans. You couldn't say anything about causation, just correlation.

In an international survey Colin Hanbury and I did last year, we're looking at many things from a rich data set. There is one thing that may be of interest in relation to this discussion.

In responses from English speaking countries, Australians had the lowest agreement with the statement: 'My government rates science as important'. This response was significantly lower than UK, USA, Canada, NZ [and Singapore, I think, from memory - cannot check data; at home today].

Cheers, Nancy

Assoc Prof Nancy Longnecker

Coordinator, Science Communication Program
School of Animal Biology, M092
The University of Western Australia
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There is no point explaining everything in the universe if no one is listening to you.    (UWA Sci Comm student)
From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au [asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Helen.Sim at csiro.au [Helen.Sim at csiro.au]
Sent: Wednesday, 22 February 2012 1:28 PM
To: rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au; Elizabeth.Yuncken at csiro.au; asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
Cc: Peterg.King at csiro.au
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Scientific literacy of our leaders?

In such a study, how could you control for all the other factors that influence a country's economic performance?
Helen Sim
Media Liaison and Public Relations

CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility
Australian Astronomical Observatory

T: +61 2 9372 4251
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From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au [asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Rob Morrison [rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au]
Sent: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 4:21 PM
To: Yuncken, Liz (CSIRO BD, Campbell); asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
Cc: King, Peter (FM F/Ship, Campbell)
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Scientific literacy of our leaders?

I suspect that the problem is subtly different. There are very few people with scientific training in politics, but heaps of lawyers and economists.

Both groups seem to believe that the world can be made to run on "man-made" rules -societal and economic - but it cannot.  Eventually, when the man-made rules come up against natural laws, the latter win every time.

A few more scientifically educated pollies might help the lawyers and economists understand some fundamental natural limitations to their plans; the foremost surely being that one cannot have unlimited growth (population and economic)  on a finite planet.

Dr Rob Morrison
rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au
Phone: (08) 8339 3790
Fax: (08)8339 6272

From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au [asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Elizabeth.Yuncken at csiro.au [Elizabeth.Yuncken at csiro.au]
Sent: Tuesday, 21 February 2012 10:59 AM
To: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
Cc: Peterg.King at csiro.au
Subject: [ASC-list] Scientific literacy of our leaders?

Hi Listers

A colleague has been wondering whether the scientific literacy levels of a country’s leaders (CEOs & politicians) is correlated to economic performance. Does anyone know of any research into the comparative scientific literacy levels of top leaders around the world?

My colleague put the question like this:

“It would be great to understand more fully the impact of scientific literacy to aspects of leadership and performance.

-          Eg. knowing scientific literacy of CEOs (of say the ASX 100 and comparable groups overseas) and tying this into the company's investment in R&D and overall performance

-          Eg. knowing the scientific literacy of our elected officials and comparisons to overseas parliaments.
“By literacy I mean having studied STEM subjects at university either as the major focus of the degree or as a component of the degree (maybe even with some differentiation between the two)”

What does the literature say (if anything)? Would make an interesting PhD topic!


Elizabeth Yuncken
Advisor, Europe & India | Global Engagement
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