Chris Mooney has a worthwhile op-ed about the public's perception of science. The problem, he argues, is not (only) ignorance of scientific stuff, but selective skepticism about particular scientific claims. Ironically, information only exacerbates the scientific pseudo-skeptic's ignorance. He writes:
In other words, it appears that politics comes first on such a contested subject, and better information is no cure-all — people are likely to simply strain it through an ideological sieve. In fact, more education probably makes a global warming skeptic more persuasive, and more adept at collecting information and generating arguments sympathetic to his or her point of view.
In addition to global warming denialism, he mentions the alleged link between vaccines and autism and concern of nuclear waste in Nevada. Mooney goes on to conclude that scientists must do a better job of understanding the motivations behind views such as these. Fair enough.
But I think this is really a job for epistemologists.