So I'm preparing the new intro for the talk I'll be giving next week at Illinois University. In it, I'm quickly discussing where the motivation for the talk came from (combating bad science) and demonstrating particular failures of public understanding.
Of course this means I'm looking over the Science and Engineering Indicators from this most recent year. In it, it lists the general "prestige" with which the public views various professions. Although Americans don't do very well on understanding science (but not much worse than most other nations except on some important issues), they generally rank Scientists as having a very prestigious career. The only one that beats it (by a mere 1%) is firefighters.
Meanwhile, down near the bottom, we find "actors". So can someone explain to me why the public isn't dying to see "Science Tonight" instead of "Entertainment Tonight"?