Surprise: Public Rather Untrusting Of Scientists

Personally, I’d note that the public is not really distrusting over all scientists, but those who put themselves out there in the public domain, as well as those who have been politicized and are essentially on the payroll of government. Here’s the Mercury News editorial board

Scientists must solve growing trust problem

Scientists are facing a crisis of trust.

A Pew Research Center poll released Jan. 29 shows a huge gap between the views of scientists and the general public on a range of issues — not just climate change but also genetically modified foods, vaccinations, the use of animals in research and the threat of overpopulation. Furthermore, as scientific theories evolve, today’s instant mass communication of each step forward and back undermines belief in facts that are proven, like the ability of vaccines to all but eliminate a disease.

Scientists and scientific groups often make Pronouncements, which are then trumpeted by politicians and the news media ad nausuem as The Truth. And then, WHOOPS! We end up with all sorts of lists of things that scientists got wrong. And retractions. And intentionally falsified science. Act in political and advocacy manners.

Lecturing people isn’t the answer. Alan Leshner, the outgoing CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, made that clear Wednesday when he met with this newspaper’s Editorial Board. Scientists instead need to engage the public in a forthright conversation about the importance of science to society, he said.

Sadly, no. They need to stop being over the top, hypetastic, attention whores, trying to make a big splash, pushing notions that aren’t really proven. Show their work. Stop with the doom and gloom. Prove that they are trust worthy, rather than “having a forthright conversation…”, which is just lecturing in a different form.

Increasingly, Americans believe that what’s called science is actually political posturing.

Because so much of it is. Especially “climate” science.

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27 Responses to “Surprise: Public Rather Untrusting Of Scientists”

  1. Jeffery says:

    The actual report:

    It shouldn’t be too surprising that scientist know more about science than non-scientists.

    87% of AAAS scientists think global warming is man-made; 50% of non-scientists think so.

    98% of scientists understand biological evolution; 65% of non-scientists do.

    88% of scientists think it’s save to eat genetically modified foods; 37% of non-scientists do.

    86% of scientists think vaccines should be required; 68%
    of non-scientists do.

    It was an editorial in the newspaper so it’s OK, I guess, for them to editorialize saying:

    Increasingly, Americans believe that what’s called science is actually political posturing.

    There was nothing remotely like this in the actual report, that I could find. I would appreciate someone finding where in the report a discussion of “political posturing” is discussed. I suspect the editorial writer believes some of what’s called science is political posturing.

  2. GOODSTUFF says:

    I believe in “The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis”

    Unlike a mermaid, Aquawoman evolved from absorbing medications and toxins in the offshore waters

    A blogging friend has a brilliant treatise about this concept

    Phantom Fins of Pharmacology

  3. john says:

    Of course we should trust more in our religious leaders who tell us the earth is less than 10,000 years old and that Noah put unicorns on his Ark

  4. jay says:

    This is what used to be called, “the recourse to authority fallacy”. “You must believe this because a scientist said it’s true.” If the scientist has evidence to back up his assertion, then show me the evidence, and if it’s convincing, I’ll believe it based on the evidence. If the scientist does not have evidence to back up his assertion, then he is just expressing an unsubstantiated opinion, and there is no reason why I should believe it. Either way, I’ll believe or not believe based on the evidence, not based on the claims to authority of the person who made the statement.

    Plenty of times now I’ve heard the media or political activists say, “This is true because someone who calls himself a scientist said so.” “But what is the evidence to prove that?” we ask. And they reply in exasperation, “We just told you! An expert said so!”

    Anytime someone tells me that he refuses to show me the evidence and I should just take his word for it, or that the evidence is too complicated for me to understand, I am extremely skeptical. People I’ve known who really have done a ton of research to prove some theory tend to be anxious to share that research, to tell you their life story of all the hard work they went to, how they overcame all these challenges, etc. When someone refuses to discuss the evidence, well, maybe he’s just fed up trying to explain this difficult subject to ignorant people … or maybe he knows the evidence is weak and he’s tired of trying to make it sound convincing.

  5. Jeffery says:


    And your “argument” is called the “straw man fallacy”.

    Your claim that there is little evidence and only reliance upon authority is false.

    In fact, the evidence in support of global warming resulting from the burning of fossil fuels is overwhelming, and is published in scientific journals. The data interpretation IS complicated in many cases, but that shouldn’t prevent one from understanding.

    Not relying on authority is a good course, in general. But suppose you have a set of symptoms and poll 100 medical experts and 97 propose one course of action and 3 say they are unconvinced by your examination and lab results, what would you do?

  6. The Quadfather says:

    Hey Scientists, I’ve got an idea, how about you admit that Global Warming/Climate Change (the man made kind) is a big fraud being used to push global socialism, and Agenda 21. Admit you lied about Chloroflourocarbons and the ozone hole also and give us back our good freon. And just quit lying to us and fudging data, and eventually we might start believing you again. But it will take awhile, trust has to be earned, and you sure haven’t been doing that. The jig is up. We know you faked the data in many ways. You have lost credibility.

  7. Jeffery says:


    “Agree with our nonsense and we’ll trust you.” LOL. No thanks.

    Did you read the actual Pew report that I linked? (Curiously, neither Teach nor the editorial linked to it.)

    If you did, did you find where the reported that people distrusted scientists? Nor did I.

    Here’s what the article concluded:

    ◾79% of adults say that science has made life easier for most people and a majority is positive about science’s impact on the quality of health care, food and the environment.

    Wow. 79%. Wouldn’t the Tea Party kill for those kind of approval numbers!

    This whole issue is a lie. Not sure why the editorial writer promulgated this lie, he/she wasn’t identified. We know why Teach pushed this lie.

    Here’s the complete and total “reason” they claimed Americans distrust scientists: 87% of surveyed scientists agreed that human-generated CO2 is causing global warming and 50% of non-scientists agreed. To the editorial writer and Teach this proved that the folks distrust scientists.

    Conservatives claim that man-made global warming is a hoax (a hoax involving 10s of thousands of scientists). Conservatives push the distrust angle. This is just more conservative propaganda. Conservatives say scientists are untrustworthy because the truth contradicts conservative ideology.

    “The truth has a liberal bias” – Colbert

  8. Jeffery says:

    Teach also linked (but unlikely read) a few articles about scientific errors and fraud. These errors and frauds are only recognized because they were discovered and corrected by… you guessed it, scientists.

    Even after the fossil fuels industry and their apologists have invested billions of dollars and millions of hours of effort, we are still awaiting the falsification of AGW.

    In this article that Teach linked:

    the author describes the “stress theory of peptic ulcers” (the only 20th Century error they discussed) which was falsified by Dr. Barry Marshall. Dr. Marshall won the Nobel Prize for demonstrating scientifically that most ulcers are caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Interestingly, a Nobel Prize awaits the scientist who falsifies the theory of AGW!! Yet, no one has been able to do that. Curious.

    Another example of bad science that Teach linked was the trend of red states to remove the teaching and testing of biological evolution from their public school curricula. India and China are teaching their children science and our old Confederacy is not. In the Pew Survey, 98% of scientists agreed that evolution is real.

  9. gitarcarver says:

    These errors and frauds are only recognized because they were discovered and corrected by… you guessed it, scientists

    Structures that were designed by engineers that fail have that failure point found and corrected by -….. you guessed it, engineers.
    When a doctor fails in an operation, that is discovered and corrected by ….. you guessed it, doctors.
    When a newspaper with articles approved by an editor makes a mistake, that mistake is corrected by, …. you guessed it, an editor.

    In essence you seem to want to glorify the correction rather than examine the cause if the initial failure to begin with. Aren’t these supposed scientists that are putting out papers having their work reviewed by peers? (except maybe the IPCC reports, but that is another story.)

    You are simply trying to excuse the failure of scientists not once, but at least twice to find and correct errors until someone else finds the error. “Praise the scientist!” you scream while conveniently forgetting it was a group of scientists that made the errors to begin with.

    Even after the fossil fuels industry and their apologists have invested billions of dollars and millions of hours of effort, we are still awaiting the falsification of AGW.

    And after spending trillions of dollars and trillions of hours of effort, we are still waiting for the theory of AGW to be proven.

    The lack of logic you display is amazing. You will say that a scientific theory can never be “proven” as it is essentially a moving target with new data and hypothesis being presented all the time. Yet you demand that AGW disprove that which is not certain and dismiss any proof because it is contrary to the theory – a theory which you admit is not provable.

    How does anyone expect a non-provable theory to be disproven? No one in science or anywhere else in the physical sciences can do that or expect that to be done. Only those who worship at the cult of AGW expect such things.

    The fact of the matter is that when contrary data and hypothesis are brought forth, instead of examining them and incorporating into a theory, you and people of your ilk simply dismiss it. You cannot stand to have, see, read or try to comprehend anything that assaults the theory of AGW because, well, because you are against “science” in the true sense of the word.

  10. drowningpuppies says:

    Git, although one doubts the mental capacity of little Jeffery to realize it, you just kicked his ass.
    Well done, sir.

  11. […] few days ago I put a post on the public distrusting scientists which included this quote from a “climate […]

  12. jay says:

    Umm, I didn’t say anything about global warming. I was speaking generally. The article also spoke about people’s “trust” in scientists in general. Could it be that you’re getting a little defensive?

    But if you want to talk about global warming: The evidence is certainly NOT overwhelming. The key experiment is: What is the average global temperature today compared to what it was 10 or 15 or 20 years ago. And the answer is: Pretty much the same, within the limits of measurement error. Therefore, the evidence for global warming is weak. I don’t care how complex and extensive a theory you have. There have been lots of theories in the history of science that sound very logical and plausible. But if you don’t have an actual, verifiable, repeatable experiment to back them up, then the theory is not proven.

  13. jay says:

    “India and China are teaching their children science and our old Confederacy is not.” That’s an excellent point, and I’m glad you brought that up. In the United States, only a relatively small minority — about 20% — are convinced that non-theistic evolution is true. In China, the overwhelming majority believe in evolution.

    So I guess your point is that, based on the actual experimental data, the empirical evidence, acceptance of creation theory leads to an advanced, innovative technology, while acceptance of evolution leads to little scientific and technological innovation. If China and India want to catch up, they should adopt creation theory. At least, that would be the scientific conclusion, based on looking at the actual evidence.

  14. Jeffery says:


    You don’t have to lie about what I said. Theories are never proven but can be falsified. To date, the theory of AGW has not been falsified.

    gitar, Please present the data you have access to that falsifies or that is inconsistent with the theory. The world’s scientists would be interested in it.

    It’s clear you do not understand the scientific process and specifically disagree with the conclusions. If your point is that global warming will be falsified just like “cold fusion” was wrong, you are sadly mistaken. If you think we’ll find the Earth randomly warms and cools degrees C in a century just as Helicobacter was shown to cause ulcers you’re in for a big disappointment.

    That said, you may be right. Tomorrow, or next year a real scientist may make a verifiable discovery that turns the theory on its head. But as the overwhelming evidence in support of the theory accumulates, your wet dream becomes less and less likely.

  15. gitarcarver says:

    gitar, Please present the data you have access to that falsifies or that is inconsistent with the theory. The world’s scientists would be interested in it.

    Geez Jeffery, we have been presenting evidence since you came onto the blog. Your “rebuttal” is always to cast aspersions on the sources (as you will only accept either left leaning or sources that are part of the AGW cult or both) or to ignore any evidence that disagrees with AGW.

    That has been your tactic since day one.

    Don’t try and play the idea that we don’t know the “scientific method” as clearly we do. It is you who reject the method.

  16. Jeffery says:

    In the United States, only a relatively small minority — about 20% — are convinced that non-theistic evolution is true.

    Another lie. The very survey that prompted the post by Teach stated that 65% of American non-scientists believe in evolution, while 98% of scientists do.

    Another Pew poll showed that 43% of Republicans believe the theory of evolution.

    And in some US states where conservative Republicans have won majorities, they are voting their religious beliefs and trying to eliminate the testing and teaching of evolution. This does not bode well for the children of those states, many or which are already underperforming economically, and are supported by states like California, New York and New Jersey where they still teach science in science class.

  17. Jeffery says:

    Don’t try and play the idea that we don’t know the “scientific method” as clearly we do.

    Who’s we?

    You clearly do not understand.

    Please select your most persuasive piece of evidence and let’s discuss.

  18. Jeffery says:

    As bad as the conservative Republicans are, this guy is even worse:

    A Saudi cleric claims the Sun revolves around the Earth, and the Earth does not rotate.

  19. jay says:

    Latest poll I could find on the subject: Results: 19% atheistic evolution, 42% creation, 31% theistic evolution. Feel free to go to that web page for the details of this poll. Last I checked 19 < 20.

    It's certainly possible that other polls that word the question differently have gotten different results. But saying that because you found a poll that got different results, that therefore I am "lying" when I quote this poll, well, I guess that's consistent with how you discuss evidence about these controversial scientific questions. If an experiment gets the results that you want, it is indisputable proof. If another experiment gets results that are not what you want to see, then that experiment must be dismissed as irrelevant if not fraud.

  20. jay says:

    Oh, BTW, can you cite some examples of Republicans trying to ban the teaching of evolution? There are plenty of cases of conservatives saying that the censorship of creation theory from public schools should stop and young people should be allowed to hear the evidence for both. I haven’t heard of anyone saying that censorship of creation theory should be replaced with censorship of evolution. If you can cite such cases, I will gladly join you in saying that I think this is a bad idea.

    So are you in favor or opposed to creationism being censored and young people being indoctrinated in only one side of a controversial question? Would you agree with me that the best science classes are those that teach young people how the scientific method works and how to evaluate evidence? Or do you believe that the best science classes are those that tell young people that only beliefs that conform to the opinions of the elite are tolerated and that any contrary ideas are not allowed to be discussed?

  21. Jeffery says:

    I favor teaching science in science class. There is no evidence, nada, zip, to support creationism; it’s a religious notion. There is no scientific controversy. There’s nothing wrong with religious notions but they should not be equated with scientific theories. If teachers discuss creation and reach the scientific conclusion that creationism is unsupported and unsupportable, wouldn’t you complain that they were attacking religion? What version of creationism would you have them teach? Every religion has a different version (although Christianity, Islam and Judaism are similar).

    The Cherokee believed that the first two people were a brother and sister. The brother hit his sister with a fish and told her to multiply. Following this, she gave birth to a child every seven days until the Earth was populated. Would you censor that version in favor of the one believed by your own religion?

    The Pastafarians believe the Flying Spaghetti Monster produced seas and land along with Heaven and a midget, which he named Man. Man and an equally short woman lived happily in the Olive Garden of Eden for some time until the Flying Spaghetti Monster caused a global flood in a cooking accident.

    Do you think that geology class should teach the controversy between a 6000 year old Earth and a 4 billion year old Earth? How about teachers teaching that the idea of a 6000 year old Earth cannot possibly be true?

    Should they teach the alternative notion of divine miracles in physics – that at times the physical laws of the universe can be bent by supreme beings?

    Or should they teach science in science class?

  22. Frosted Flake says:

    “God did it” is easier to shoehorn into an idiots head than an education. And, apparently, it feels just the same.

  23. jay says:

    So your short answer to the question is: Yes, you believe that ideas that disagree with yours should be censored. Because, by definition, if someone disagrees with you they are an idiot.

    Need I even point out the silliness of highlighting the absurdity of “Pastafarian belief”. The Flying Spaghetti Monster was invented to be a parody of creation theory. If the ridiculousness of a parody is proof that the original is false, well, I could easily spin some absurd story about global warming being a side effect of alien mind control rays or some such. Would you abandon your theories about global warming because a deliberately absurd parody of those theories was absurd? That would be dumb.

    To say there is “no evidence” supporting a theory you disagree with, when advocates of that theory have written hundreds of books and articles presenting their scientific arguments, is a very weak debating technique. Suppose you were listening to a debate on a subject about which you had not drawn any conclusions. The representative for one side stands up and presents a long list of arguments for his position. Some of these you find persuasive and some not, maybe some you find yourself saying, “Are his facts accurate? If they are that’s pretty convincing.” Then, after this long presentation, the representative for the other side stands up and says, “Well, as my opponent as not presented any evidence, there is nothing for me to rebut. I declare myself the winner of the debate.” And he sits down. Would you say, “Oh, I thought other guy had some good points, but if you say he didn’t, well then, I guess the question is settled.”? Or would you say, “Obviously this guy can’t reply to the other sides arguments, because if he had a rebuttal, he’d be anxious to present it.”? When someone refuses to debate, I don’t take that as proof that he must be right. I take that as pretty convincing evidence that he is wrong.

  24. jay says:

    “God did it” is easier to shoehorn into an idiots head than an education.

    Whereas, “Don’t try to think for yourself, just believe anything said by anyone who calls himself a scientist” is so much more sophisticated and convincing.

  25. jay says:

    BTW I never said that I doubt “science”. I just doubt some scientists.

    Suppose you told me that you thought that [insert name of worst movie you’ve ever seen here] was a bad movie. And suppose I replied, “But, just yesterday you agreed that Gone With the Wind, On the Waterfront, Casablanca, and Star Wars were great movies. Well they were all made by actors, and this movie was made by actors. So how can you say that they were great movies and this one isn’t?”

    The obvious answer would be that just because one person is a great actor hardly proves that everyone who calls himself an actor is equally great.

    Likewise, people like Newton and Einstein and Pasteur and Kepler, etc etc were indeed great scientists and their theories are worthy of respect. But that hardly proves that everyone who calls himself a scientist is equally deserving of respect. I respect Newton and Einstein, etc because their theories have been validated by many experiments, and repeatedly validated many times. For some other person to come along and present a theory that has not been validated by experiment, and say that everyone must believe it without question because he is a scientist just like Newton and Einstein … umm, no. That’s not how science works.

  26. Jeffery says:

    They changed Creationism to Creation Science to Intelligent Design, all in an attempt to appear to be a branch of science rather than a branch of Christianity.

    The scientific community, teachers, most school boards and the courts were not fooled, and recognize that Creationism, Creation Science and Intelligent Design are religious in nature.

    Can you direct me to what you consider the very best, the most persuasive and scientifically sound description of Intelligent Design? (I’m familiar with the works out of the Discovery Institute).

    When pseudoscientific movements attempt to get their noses under the tent, they invariably accuse the orthodox scientific community of censoring them. Fortunately for the “new science” movements they are able to get their message out because of the new technologies for communicating. Unfortunately, they cannot force the scientific community to take them seriously.

    The short answer is that you would force schools to teach a religious concept in science class.

    Your best argument is that all ideas are equally valid and it is government censorship not to teach this children.

    What is your argument for censoring Pastafarianism? It’s not as scientifically sound as Christian Creationism? Or not as widespread?

  27. They changed Creationism to Creation Science to Intelligent Design, all in an attempt to appear to be a branch of science rather than a branch of Christianity.

    No, they are different. The fact that you don’t know that and still chime in shows your ignorance. And, like most Lefties, you seem very scared to consider different ideas, much less allow others to discuss them. Very Fascist of you.

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