New research finds the American public’s trust in the scientific community remains strong

Photo via: Annette E. Allen

In a US-based study spanning over decades, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that the public’s trust in scientists still remains strong. The findings appeared in the journal Public Opinion Quarterly.

For the study, researchers scavenged through decades of public opinion surveys, analyzing the data from respondents in the 2018 General Social Survey (GSS). Researchers initiated their study after the 2017 March for Science, an international series of rallies and protests held in response to partisan policies on scientific issues, like climate change, for instance.

In the General Social Survey, close to half of all respondents detailed their trust in the scientific community, a similar result since the survey’s creation in 1973. From the findings: “Events such as the 2017 “March for Science” have brought greater attention to public attitudes toward science and scientists.”

“Our analyses of recent poll data show that Americans’ confidence in scientists has been high for roughly 40 years (relative to other institutions), and that it is high even for controversial topics such as global warming and nuclear energy.”

Based on the results of respondents, researchers proclaimed that many Americans have a considerable amount of trust in the leaders of scientific institutions. Likewise, politicians on both sides of the spectrum, Republicans and Democrats, showed high levels of confidence in the scientific community over the last 45 years.

“Trust in science is about more than politics,” said Nicole Krause, the study’s lead author. “There’s no war on science among the American public.”

Dominque Brossard, co-author of the study, added: “Over and over again, scientists are at the top of trustworthy professions. We can say without a doubt that the vast majority of Americans have confidence in the scientific community.”