In a multi-decade study conducted in the United States, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison discovered that the public’s trust in scientists remains high. The results were published in the quarterly journal Public Opinion Quarterly.
For the study, researchers combed through decades of public opinion polls, analyzing data from 2018 General Social Survey respondents (GSS). After the 2017 March for Science, an international series of rallies and protests held in response to partisan policies on scientific issues such as climate change, researchers initiated their study.
Since the survey’s inception in 1973, a similar proportion of respondents have indicated their trust in the scientific community in the General Social Survey. Events such as the 2017 “March for Science” have brought public attitudes toward science and scientists into greater focus.
“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.”
According to the results of the survey, a large number of Americans have a great deal of faith in the leaders of scientific institutions. Similarly, over the past 45 years, politicians on both sides of the political spectrum, Republicans and Democrats, have demonstrated high levels of confidence in the scientific community.
“Trust in science is about more than politics,” said Nicole Krause, the study’s lead author, in a news release. “There’s no war on science among the American public.”
The study’s co-author, Dominque Brossard, 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.”