Public Release:  New poll shows dramatic rise in Americans' 'DNA I.Q.'

Threefold increase delights educators, but is it enough?

K-M Communications

Richmond, VA, Feb. 27, 2003 - A new Harris poll released today shows that the "DNA I.Q." of American adults is much higher expected. The poll found that 60% of US adults got the right answer when asked 'what is DNA?': the genetic code for living cells. When given the multiple choice question, 'what does DNA stand for?,' adults did even better. Two thirds chose deoxyribonucleic acid. The findings show a dramatic rise in genetics awareness since 1996, when a National Science Foundation survey showed only 21% of adults could define DNA.

The recent poll also contrasts with other recent surveys that found Americans notably lacking in awareness of or knowledge about science.*

"That's a terrific increase," said Paul Hanle, president of The Biotechnology Institute, of the new DNA poll. "The challenge now is to take that growing popular interest to the next level, giving kids and adults the tools to deal with complex issues like human cloning, genetically modified food, regenerative medicine, genetic screening, etc."

"With these results and shows like CSI, we don't have to worry so much about getting people's attention any more," said Tom Huff, Vice Provost for Life Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University. "My only question is: is that enough? The tricky part will be finding ways to use that attention to help people take an active part in what really is turning out to be the Century of Life Sciences."

The poll was sponsored by kSERO Corporation, Inc. that creates products that inspire and teach children so that they develop skills needed to participate fully in biology, medicine and life sciences by leveraging advances in cognitive science and linguistics. kSERO Corporation Inc.TM introduced METANON: The Biocode AdventureTM at the American International Toy Fair. METANON: The Biocode Adventure, designed for ages 5-and-up, is a space-adventure board game that teaches players the fundamentals of DNA and genetics in a simple and entertaining way.

For the poll, Harris Interactive interviewed by telephone a nationally representative sample of 1,031 Americans ages 18 or older, between February 6, 2003 to February 9, 2003. Harris used an unrestricted Random Digit Dialing (RDD) technique that significantly reduces serial bias and ensures that respondents with both listed and unlisted numbers are reached. One interview was conducted per household. To ensure a reliable and accurate representation of the total national adult population, completed interviews were weighted to known proportions for age, gender, geographic region, and race. The margin of error for the total sample is plus or minus 3.1%.

About kSERO Corporation, Inc.:

kSERO Corporation, Inc. creates products that inspire and teach children so that they develop skills needed to participate fully in biology, medicine and life sciences by leveraging advances in cognitive science and linguistics.

* The National Science Foundation's Science & Engineering Indicators 2000, for example, found, "The majority of the general public knows a little, but not a lot, about S&T [science and technology]." That survey found that only 22% of the public could successfully define molecule; less than half knew that lasers do not focus sound waves; less than half knew that electrons are smaller than atoms, etc.

###

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.