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Description: The role of scientific knowledge in shaping public attitudes towards science has been a longstanding point of contention in the study of science in society. What became known as the ‘deficit model’ contends that resistance to controversial science and technology is underpinned by ignorance or misunderstanding of the underlying science. While there have been many powerful critiques of this position over the years, the empirical record has largely supported the expectation of a positive correlation. However, little is currently known about the generality of this finding to contexts beyond the limited range of wealthy democracies that have been the core object of study to date. We address this lacuna by estimating the knowledge-attitude correlation using a survey covering over 90% of the global population. Our findings reveal a near universal positive relationship between what people know about science and how positive they are about it. We argue that, though a return to deficit model thinking would be misguided, the robustness and generality of the knowledge-attitude correlation across cultures necessitates further research in order to understand its origins and consequences.


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