How people perceive science from the 3M State of Science Index survey

Science beyond boundaries

Explore how countries around the world perceive science

  • There is an incredible diversity of thought in what people around the world think about science. While many are fascinated by the subject, others are still distrustful, skeptical and intimidated. Because we believe in the power of science to solve some of the world’s toughest challenges, we were curious how the world perceives science.

    Across the world, people often look to those who have emerged successful in life as role models and for inspiration—whether they share interests, talents, backgrounds or other commonalities. We asked a global audience who they would rather have dinner and a conversation with if given an opportunity: a celebrity or respected scientist in their home country.

  • What could be causing this surprising response to scientists? Think about the high-tech society in which we live, where tech moguls like Elon Musk and scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson are considered superstars. Science has become synonymous with positive advances we never thought we would see in our lifetime.

    Many of the adults we surveyed saw the benefits science could bring to society. Let’s try a word association exercise: When you think about the word “science,” what comes to mind?

    Upon hearing the word “science,” 90 percent were hopeful compared to 10 percent who felt discouraged. Similarly, 87 percent of people felt fascinated by the word science and only 13 percent were bored.

  • On the surface the state of science seems fine. However, we discovered one in three people are skeptical of science (32 percent). 60 percent of skeptics believe if science didn’t exist, everyday life wouldn’t be much different. This group drives negative and indifferent perceptions around science. Whether those skeptics take science for granted, or are unaware of the integral role it plays in society, the opportunity to improve the image of science is crystal clear.


Digging deeper, we learned 49 percent of skeptics think science is boring. To contextualize that, nearly half of people who question science are missing out on the ways it could be making their lives better. One option could be approaching those skeptics and finding ways to make science more relevant, personal and relatable to them.

  • city skyline at night

    If more people recognized the value of science in their daily lives, would the overall image improve? We believe science doesn’t only occur in a lab—it’s everywhere. Jayshree Seth, a Corporate Scientist and Chief Science Advocate at 3M, constantly identifies new ways to ensure science is ingrained in our lives. “You could say refusing to compromise is part of our mantra. We make our customers’ lives more convenient whether they’re cleaning up from a family meal or using very-high-bond industrial adhesives to help construct a building. Those are both prime examples of science at work.”

    Whether someone is a pediatrician or a pipefitter, science has an integral role in the success of their career. Now it’s time to remind others of the role science has in their lives and why it’s important to support advances that improve lives worldwide. Science doesn’t exist in a vacuum and it knows no bounds.


Related stories