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Lots of Factors, Including Age, Shape Public's View of Science

There's a generational divide on how Americans view certain scientific topics, the Associated Press reports, noting that other factors also influence the public's view of science.

The Pew Research Center surveyed 2,002 people last August on nearly two dozen scientific topics. They followed that survey up with some additionally polling.

To what political party a person belongs and that person's ideology influences their take on climate and energy issues as well as their thoughts on government funding of science. For instance, Pew notes that 83 percent of Democrats and people who lean Democrat say that government investment in research pays off in the long run, while 62 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning respondents say government investment in science is worth it.

Other issues, though, are influenced by age. Adults over the age of 50, the survey found, were less likely to accept evolution, but were more likely to think vaccines were safe and support vaccine requirements. Older adults were less likely to favor the use of genetic modifications to reduce babies' risk of disease, while younger adults were more in favor of such modifications

"The striking story is how different the patterns are depending on what the issue is," Lee Rainie, Pew's director of science issues research, tells the AP. "There is not a one-size-fits-all explanation for the public's attitudes on science."