Is there a declining interest in science? Over at Steve Sailer's blog, there was a recent discussion about a loss of interest in science. I wondered if it were true of the population in general and mined some data from the 2006 science module of the General Social Survey. Respondents were asked if they would be interested in a TV program on the polar regions. I calculated the percentages who said they would be "very likely" to watch the show by age range:
Percent who are very likely to watch a TV science program
Now, I can't tell if these differences show a dropping in interest in science, an age effect (a tendency to like science more as one ages) or a cohort effect (something--like landing on the moon--impacted specific age cohorts). It's not due to more TV watching in general on the part of older people: only seniors watch (slightly) more TV than 18-30s.
If younger people are turning away from science, it's not for lack of studying it in school. Respondents were also asked if they took a physics class in high school:
Percent who took physics in high school
Science is difficult, technical, and dry. Traditionally a nerdy white guy thing, most of those types I see on campus now don't have the discipline for it.