Sunday, September 05, 2010

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Truth, Opinions & Statistics?

A national survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in collaboration with the Exploratorium benchmarks how the internet fits into people's habits for gathering news and information about science.  Findings include:  
  • Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) online users have used the internet to look up the meaning of a scientific concept, answer a specific science question, learn more about a scientific breakthrough, complete a school assignment, check the accuracy of a scientific fact, download scientific data, or compare different or opposing scientific theories.  
  • Most Americans say they would turn to the internet if they needed more information on specific scientific topics. Two-thirds of respondents asked about stem cell research said they would first turn to the internet 
  • 59% asked about climate change said they would first go to the internet. Most of those searches would begin with search engines.  
  • Nearly three quarters (71%) of internet users say they turn to the internet for science news and information because it is convenient.  
  • Two-thirds (65%) say they have encountered news and information about science when they have gone online with a different reason in mind.

Users of the internet for science information also report better attitudes about the role science plays in society and higher assessments of how well they understand science.  Specifically:  

  • 78% of those who have gotten science information online describe themselves as "very" or "somewhat" informed about new scientific discoveries; 58% of remaining internet users says this.
  • 48% strongly agree that to be a strong society, the United States needs to be competitive in science; 33% of remaining online users strongly agree with this.  
  • 43% strongly agree that scientific research is essential to improving the quality of human lives; 27% of other online users also say this.
Further, in a report entitled “The Impact of the Internet on Institutions in the Future,” Most surveyed believe that innovative forms of online cooperation could result in more efficient and responsive for-profit firms, non-profit organizations, and government agencies by the year 2020.

By an overwhelming margin, technology experts and stakeholders participating in a survey fielded by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s - Imagining the Internet Center, believe that innovative forms of online cooperation could result in more efficient and responsive for-profit firms, non-profit organizations, and government agencies by the year 2020.

A highly engaged set of respondents that included 895 technology stakeholders and critics participated in the online, opt-in survey. In this canvassing of a diverse number of experts, 72% agreed with the statement:  

  • “By 2020, innovative forms of online cooperation will result in significantly more efficient and responsive governments, business, non-profits, and other mainstream institutions.”

Only 26% agreed with the opposite statement, which posited: 

  • ”By 2020, governments, businesses, non-profits and other mainstream institutions will primarily retain familiar 20th century models for conduct of relationships with citizens and consumers online and offline.”

While their overall assessment anticipates that humans’ use of the internet will prompt institutional change, many elaborated with written explanations that expressed significant concerns over organization’s resistance to change.  

They cited fears that bureaucracies of all stripes – especially government agencies – can resist outside encouragement to evolve. Some wrote that the level of change will affect different kinds of institutions at different times. The consensus among them was that businesses will transform themselves much more quickly than public and non-profit agencies.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Darren Cox

Darren Cox
Founder and Chief Evangelist - CaSTT - Commerce and Search for Technology Transfer