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Majority of Americans Want to Learn More about Nuclear Weapons

A box-office success (though no match for Barbie), Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer biopic has put nuclear weapons back in the pop culture conversation. Are Americans ready to reengage? A new Council-Carnegie Corporation of New York survey takes a look at what the public knows about US nuclear policy and what more they want to learn.  

Key takeaways: 

  • A narrow slice of the US public say they are at least somewhat familiar with the effects of nuclear weapons (53%), US nuclear weapons policy (30%), the targets of US nuclear weapons (31%), and the cost of these weapons (20%).    
  • Six in 10 Americans say they are at least somewhat interested in learning more about US nuclear weapon policy, especially basic information about how nuclear weapons work and their effects. 
  • By a 5 to 1 ratio, more Americans say that the US nuclear weapons arsenal makes the country safer (47%) than less safe (9%). However, a majority say they do not know enough to assess the benefit or harm of nuclear weapons to them personally (58%).   
  • Sixty-three percent believe that US nuclear weapons have been effective at preventing conflict between the United States and other countries.

Read the full report and watch the related webinar for more insights.  

The Data Dimension

Where might Americans turn to boost their nuclear knowledge? In the Council-Carnegie Corporation survey, television (24%) was the top response, followed by the government (21%) and academics (16%).

Made with Flourish

What We're Watching

  • The fentanyl crisis: “Prioritizing collaborative, diplomacy-first foreign policy over a militarized response is a critical place to start” in addressing the fentanyl crisis, Research Assistant Emma Sanderson argues in Responsible Statecraft
  • Taiwan’s presidential race: Experts Dennis Weng and Brian Hioe join Deep Dish to discuss how the island’s domestic politics could impact its relationships with both the United States and China. 
  • Russian life under sanctions: Eight in 10 Russians say Western sanctions haven't created serious problems for themselves or their families, new Council-Levada Center polling finds. 
  • Great-power competition in Africa: As the United States and China compete for influence on the continent, two experts weigh in on what Africans would like to see from each potential partner. 

Ask an Expert

As Israel moves forward with its judicial overhaul, how can the public hold Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government accountable?

"headshot of Elizabeth Shackelford

“Absent judicial oversight, the only tool that could restrain Israel’s ruling party would be a constitution, but Israel is one of only five countries that don’t have one. […] Without a constitution enshrining equal rights for all, and with no other checks in place, it is far easier for a powerful minority to use the tools of the state to suppress the rights of other groups.”

—Senior Fellow Elizabeth Shackelford in the Chicago Tribune

About the Author
Communications Officer
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As the communications officer for the Lester Crown Center, Libby Berry works to connect audiences with foreign policy research and analysis.
headshot of Libby Berry