The public has a very strange relationship with science. On the one hand, scientists have been among the most trusted figures in US society, and the same holds true in many other countries. On the other hand, there’s widespread mistrust in many of the conclusions scientists have reached. Perennial issues of public mistrust like evolution and climate change have recently been joined by a range of conspiracy theories about the COVID pandemic—even the shape of the Earth has become an issue.
How do we explain the huge gap between what the public thinks about scientists and what they often think about the conclusions scientists reach? And who do we blame for this gap? People have pointed fingers at scientists, at the public, and at the journalists who act as intermediaries between the two.
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