Science

People trust science. So why don’t they believe it?


Climate change activists carry signs as they march during a protest in Philadelphia a day before the start of the Democratic National Convention, on July 24, 2016. (Photo: John Minchillo, AP)
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Scientists and their allies are expected to fill the streets of the nation’s capital Saturday for Earth Day’s March for Science, advocating for the importance of scientific truth in an era we’ve ominously been told doesn’t value the truth any longer.

Advocates say science is under attack. President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt doesn’t accept evidence that shows humans are causing climate change.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ 2001 comments on wanting to “advance God’s kingdom” through education have educators worried she could undermine the teaching of evolution in public schools. Trump’s budget blueprint slashes funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Esteemed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, in an impassioned video on his Facebook page, said he fears people have lost the ability to judge what’s true and what’s not.

“That is a recipe for the complete dismantling of our informed democracy,” he says.

The scientific community is alarmed by the Trump administration, and by what they see as the diminishing role of objective science in American life.

But the General Social Survey, one of the oldest and most comprehensive recurring surveys of American attitudes, shows that although trust in public institutions has declined over the last half century, science is the one institution that has not suffered any erosion of public confidence. Americans who say they have a great deal of confidence in science has hovered around 40% since 1973.

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