Bryan Caplan  

Public Opinion About the Future of Science: A Glimmer of Hope

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A fun survey, with funny results:

[R]espondents were asked in a 1998 Newsweek poll: “In the next century, which one of the following current scientific beliefs do you think is most likely to be proved wrong, the theory of evolution, that high-fat food is bad for you, that the human life span cannot be extended much beyond one hundred years, or that the Earth’s resources are in danger of running out?” Among the choices, 17% answered the theory of evolution, compared to 28% questioning the danger to Earth’s resources, 26% doubting limits on life extension, and 16% choosing to believe that high fat food is not that bad after all.
I'm amazed - the modal answer is correct. Of course, I'd say the "current scientific belief" that "the Earth's resources are in danger of running out" was overturned decades again, but who's counting?


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COMMENTS (3 to date)
Floccina writes:

I for one think that it is far from proven that high-fat food is bad for you. It seems to me that fat, protein or carbs does not matter, it is how much calories that you eat. (That is assuming that you get enough vitamins and minerals-and for that you can take a one a vitamin like Centrum).

Josh writes:

Didn't I read somewhere that the whole thing with high-fat foods being bad for you was just that there tends to be a positive relationship between the amount of fat and the number of calories (probably because fat contains more calories per gram than carbs or protein)? Once people started making high-calorie low-fat foods (like all those "low-fat snacks" you see in the junk-food aisle that are high in calories), that relationship went away and there was no longer a link between high-fat foods and obesity.

Which makes sense, given that your body is basically just a battery, storing excess calories (independent of how you obtain them) in the form of fat and burning them in lean times.

Troy Camplin writes:

Of course we won't ever run out of resources. As things get rarer, prices go up, and less of it is used, and alternatives are used. Basic economics. It's nice to know that at least 38% of the people at the time understood economics to that level.

I roll my eyes at the evolution answer, but understand why the numbers are so high. Oh well.

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