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THE PEW RESEARCH Center published an extensive study of world perceptions concerning science. Do people trust science? Distrust science? And which people? Educated? Uneducated? Politically to the left? Politically to the right?

Sharing one of the Pew Research findings, the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s weekly magazine Science published “U.S. Leads in Science Trust Gulf.” Here are tidbits gleaned from this AAAS Science News item and from the Pew Research document.

A Partisan Divide. Science writes, “When it comes to trusting scientists, Americans are the most split ideologically, a survey of 20 countries found. Some 62 percent of Americans who identified their politics as left wing said they held ‘a lot’ of trust in science ‘to do what is right’ for the public, the Pew Research Center reported on 29 September. But only 20 percent of those who identified with the right wing expressed that level of confidence.” 

Image from Science, October 2, 2020.

Science notes, “The polarization was smaller in other countries. Still, respondents in all countries had high regard for scientists, with 36 percent expressing ‘a lot of trust’ in them, matching the military and besting perceptions of government and business leaders and news media.”

It’s interesting that France and Brazil, hardly comparable countries otherwise, had left/right splits of approximate equality. Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom displayed significant left/right differences, with Canada’s left-leaning participants expressing the highest trust in the survey. 

A Related Note. In the same Science News, there’s an item titled “France to Pair Science, Media.” Perhaps in response to the country’s apparent apathy of trust, “France plans to bring scientists and journalists closer together in an effort to boost public access to reliable scientific information and combat disinformation. The science ministry said the plan is needed ‘at a time when French society is crossed by currents of irrationality and doubts about progress and knowledge.’ ”

The Pew Research Study. Extensive online documentation from Pew Research Center is titled “Science and Scientists Held in High Esteem Across Global Publics.”

This and the following image from Pew Research Center.

The report’s four detailed sections focus on “Practical Experience Versus Expertise,” “Initially Positive Views on Handling the Pandemic,” “Concerns with Climate,” and “Mixed Views on AI, Childhood Vaccines, Food, and Space.”

Childhood vaccinations. For example, Pew Researchers report, “While many see childhood vaccines as bringing high preventative health benefits, in some places sizable shares are not fully convinced.”

“Outbreaks of the measles in the U.S. and elsewhere,” Pew researchers write, “were linked to lower rates of immunization for the disease in recent years. And concerns about vaccine hesitancy as well as communities espousing ‘anti-vax’ views have grown in the U.S. and elsewhere.” 

Education. Also, researchers note, “People with more education tend to rate the preventative health benefits of childhood vaccines higher—and the risk of side effects lower—than those of less education. This pattern occurs in most of the 20 publics surveyed.”

And, the Pew study observes, “Those with right-leaning political views and favorable ratings of right-wing populist parties are sometimes less convinced about benefits of childhood vaccines.”

Good food for thought from a respected source. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2020 

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