At a time when rabid anti-vaxxers make noise beyond their numbers and conspiracy theorists roam the Web, this may appear to be a low point for trust in science. No-nothings oppose expert knowledge on subjects from evolution to GMOs to Covid to global warming, ad infinitum. But, among the rational majority around the globe, the good news is that trust in science is actually on the rise.
At least according to a Gallup public opinion poll published by the health research foundation Wellcome Trust. A survey of 119,000 people in 113 countries showed that 80 percent trusted science either “a lot” or “some” and three-quarters trusted scientists either “a lot” or “some.” The survey was conducted from August 2020 to February 2021, in the heart of the pandemic.
The percentage who said they had “a lot” of trust in science increased by about 10 points in a range of countries, including the U.S., since a 2018 survey.
According to geneticist and science communicator Fatima Tokhmafshan, “The share of people who fall victim to conspiracy theories and misinformation has grown, just as the percentage of people who trust science and respect science has grown.”
Given the raging misinformation about Covid, the noisy objections to masking and vaccination, and the promotion of snake oil cures such as ivermectin, many will no doubt be surprised by the survey. It appears that despite all the craziness on the Web and elsewhere, for the great majority of us facts still matter.