Eavesdrop on a few conversations taking place between sessions at a scientific meeting and you're likely to hear researchers complaining that among the general public, scientists get no respect. Often cited as evidence are the media's portrayal of scientists as "nerds," deficiencies in science literacy among laypeople, and the inadequacy of government funds allocated for science.

But in actuality, the public does not view scientists as occupational Rodney Dangerfields, according to the latest findings of a study measuring the prestige of various jobs. The prestige study was included in the General Social Survey, an investigation by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. The general survey has been conducted 18 times since 1972 and is funded by the National Science Foundation.

In the as-yet-unpublished study, conducted in 1989 and recently released to the public, a nationally representative sample of 1,166 adults from the United States gave...

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