People who rely on TV have poorer science literacy: poll

10/21/2020 06:25 PM
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Image sourced from Pixabay for illustrative purposes only
Image sourced from Pixabay for illustrative purposes only

Taipei, Oct. 21 (CNA) The more people who rely on television for scientific information, the fewer points they score for media literacy on science-related questions, according to the results of a poll released Wednesday by National Taiwan University (NTU).

The internet has emerged as most common source for information on science in Taiwan, used by 58 percent of respondents, followed by TV (32 percent) and printed materials such as books (15.4 percent), magazines (9.5 percent) and newspapers (6.1 percent), the survey done by NTU's Science Media Center Taiwan found.

In terms of which type of media they trusted, 32.1 percent of respondents said no media sources are trustworthy, while 36.2 percent said they trusted TV news reports, 20.3 percent trusted internet reports and 5.9 percent trusted newspapers.

Asked how often they check facts in a news story if they have questions about it, 32.8 percent said they "often" do so, 27.3 percent said they "sometimes" do so, and 22.6 percent said they never do, the survey found.

The survey included 15 questions in three categories to test how well respondents could distinguish between truth and fiction: their understanding of the limits of scientific research, the accuracy of scientific arguments, and news headlines.

For instance, the survey asked respondents whether the following statements were true or false: "Taiwan's farmers use growth hormone to stimulate growth in chickens"; "a 5G network can spread the virus that causes COVID-19" and "offshore wind turbines could topple during a typhoon." The correct answer for all three questions is "false."

It found that people who relied more on TV for scientific information had lower scores in answering the questions, while those who often check facts and are highly educated scored higher.

The survey was conducted by both mobile phone and fixed line telephone interviews among Taiwanese people aged 18 and above from May 25 to 30 and had 1,068 valid questionnaires.

It had a confidence level of 95 percent and a margin of error of plus or minus 2.98 percentage points, according to the center.

(By Chen Chih-chung and Evelyn Kao)

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