Monthly Archives: October 2022

The decline of trust in scientists between April and November 2020

Remember previous post in which I wrote about a handbook containing the claim that complete trust in scientists doubled between 2019 and November 2020, this while the poll that the authors referenced (but for obvious reasons didn’t link to) showed a rapid decline of trust after April 2020. Initially, trust levels in April 2020 quadrupled relative to 2019, but ended up in November as a doubling relative to the year before. Basically, although trust ended higher than the year before, half of those who completely trusted the scientists in April lost that trust by November.

The jump of trust in April 2020 was remarkable, but understandable. The world was confronted with a virus that was not only contagious but also deadly and people tend to unite in the face of external pressure, this combined with high expectation and the scientific community showing strong willingness to find a solution.

But then, why a decline already one month later and even more a half year later? This might have different reasons. The effect could be temporary, as suggested by the subtitle of the “trust in scientists” wiki page (but for some reason not explained in the rest of that text). I think there are other reasons and I will propose some in this post.

Reading the handbook, it struck me that there was a small discrepancy between the statement in the handbook (how much people trust scientists) compared to what the poll they referenced looked into (how much people trust science and research). This are two different things to me. At the beginning of the pandemic, I was surely trusting the science (as the method), but not necessarily the scientists (who use this method in various degrees and maybe even are motivated by other things).

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