The Sciences

Are Americans Becoming More Distrustful of Science?

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyJan 28, 2010 4:04 PM

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Some alarming results just out from Yale and George Mason. Not only are Americans growing less convinced about global warming-- either that it is happening or that it is human caused. We knew that already. But what's more, Americans also appear less trusting of scientists in general, which is pretty alarming, as there have long been positive (if vague) sentiments towards the scientific community in this country:

The survey also found lower public trust in a variety of institutions and leaders, including scientists. For example, Americans’ trust in the mainstream news media as a reliable source of information about global warming declined by 11 percentage points, television weather reporters by 10 points and scientists by 8 points....

Finally, Americans who believe that most scientists think global warming is happening decreased 13 points, to 34 percent, while 40 percent of the public now believes there is a lot of disagreement among scientists over whether global warming is happening or not.

All of this amounts to nothing short of a complete PR nightmare. I am no public opinion specialist, but I wonder if we are seeing a trace of scandals like ClimateGate and GlacierGate in the data here. If so, it would be just more evidence (not that I needed it) that we are getting it handed to us by the skeptics, as never before....

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