Network for the Social Scientific Study of Science and Religion

Eszter Hargittai

Learning about Science and Religion Online: Who, What, Where, How?

In the digital age when limitless information is available to people at the click of a button, how do adults learn about science and religion? What role do digital media play in this process? How does this learning vary by age, gender, education and religious identity? What is the interplay of the various sources in the learning process? In an era when there is so much talk about disinformation, does use of online resources help or hinder people’s quest for scientific information and religious identity? Does engaging with others about science and religion help people learn or does it make them confused and anxious? The project consists of three empirical elements: (1) a survey to assess how US adults learn about science and religion online; (2) interviews with American adults in urban, suburban and rural areas for an in-depth investigation of how they use resources for such learning, how they assess the content they encounter; and how these experiences shape their thinking about science and religion, encompassing both online and offline sources; (3) based on the first two elements, a nationally representative US survey about both online and offline learning activities and community engagement concerning science and religion especially as it pertains to belief formation and identity expression. Outputs will be scientific research articles about the findings presented at sociology and communication conferences in addition to publications in journals. The PI will also disseminate findings on social media as well as through oped writing.