Science is powerful. New research is producing creations people a few decades ago could have only dreamt about. There is much good that can be achieved with research activities being carried out all across the country and around the world. There’s also great harm that can happen when the work is done by those with ulterior motives. Measuring public trust for the motives of the scientific community is important. New figures reveal that people are growing in their trust that scientists work for the good of society.
Driven by Good Intention
In a new publication from the Pew Research Center, it is clear that most Americans trust scientists. The latest public survey from the non-aligned and non-partisan research body found that as many as 86 percent of Americans had a fair amount of confidence that scientists worked in the interests of the public good. These figures are promising and help to show the progress that scientists are making in explaining their work and motivations.
There are still areas to be worked on, however, as revealed by the same survey. To grow public confidence, issues such as transparency and integrity need to be prioritized. The scientific community has had its fair share of blows and mistrust, from interrogations about the causes of global warming and climate change to a growing divide in public opinion concerning child vaccinations. People want to know the truth about what only scientists are especially equipped to explain, and they don’t want this truth sugar-coated or altered for commercial purposes. Increasing transparency in science can only result in improved public trust for this field and its work.
In a similar survey about public trust, politicians fared much worse with only 35 percent of people fairly confident that public interests were the motivating forces. There is still work to be done by scientist to build trust but compared to a score of 76 percent in 2016, there has been a great improvement.