Why People Don’t Trust Scientists

This T-shirt was one of the gifts I put into my eight-year-old grandson’s Christmas stocking.

As the T-shirt says, although science seems like magic because of the miraculous things it helps us to discover…… SCIENCE IS REAL.

So why is it some people don’t think science is real? Why don’t they believe in science or trust scientists? We have seen evidence of that during the pandemic when some political leaders and some members of the general public refuse to accept the validity of what scientists are telling them. They still refuse to believe that COVID-19 is dangerous. They refuse to stay at home, refuse to wear a mask, some even refuse a vaccination. They just don’t believe that scientists who have dedicated their lives to studying viruses might know more than they do.

Photo by Chokniti Khongchum on Pexels.com

I decided to do some research to find out why some people are so skeptical of science. I found out that………..

  1. Education makes a difference. The more people know about science and scientists the more they tend to believe them. A Pew Research project found that the higher your level of education the more likely you are to have faith in science.
  2. Politics makes a difference. The more conservative your political views the less likely you are to believe scientific truths. In the United States, for example, 54% of Democrats are confident scientists and their findings should be used as tools when determining public policy. Only 31% of Republicans feel that way.
  3. Religious beliefs make a difference. A major research study published in 2018 found that the more religious you are the more likely you are to have a negative attitude towards science and a lower level of scientific literacy.
  4. Social Media use makes a difference. Before the rise of the internet, our information came from scientific experts interviewed on mainstream media or we looked in an encyclopedia for what scientific experts had written. Now the internet allows anyone to publish incorrect scientific information and anyone in the world can read it. Having so many unqualified scientists providing incorrect scientific information damages people’s trust in science.

So what do we need to do to increase the public trust in scientists and science?

  1. Encourage and support quality science instruction in our schools and universities and make the study of science mandatory.
  2. Take science off the ballot by having all political parties support scientific endeavors.
  3. Promote the idea that science and faith can exist in harmony. Faith leaders and institutions have a big role to play in this.
  4. Regulate and fact- check the scientific information on the internet.

It was heartening to learn as I looked for reasons why some people don’t trust science, to find that research shows every year more and more people say they DO trust science and believe science and scientists benefit society.

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2 Comments

Filed under Health

2 responses to “Why People Don’t Trust Scientists

  1. Pat

    Thanks, MaryLou, for your timely post about believing in science. I have received a few video forwards from a cousin who, I think, is on the wrong track when it comes to scientific data. The videos are from the U.S. and are rather frightening! I will encourage her to read your ‘take’ on science and its reality.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Jocelyn Bell Burnell and the Matilda Effect | What Next?

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