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Demonstrators at the 2017 March for Science in Washington, D.C.
The public mostly trusts science. So why are scientists worried?
Scientists - Piece - News - Science - Engineering
Some scientists might be surprised by piece of good news buried in Science and Engineering Indicators, a massive report released by the U.S. National Science Board last month. Overwhelmingly, surveys showed, Americans think that science is a good thing. Since 1979, surveys have shown that roughly 7 in 10 Americans believe the effects of scientific research are more positive than negative for society. Yesterday, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which publishes Science, communications expert John Besley of Michigan State University in East Lansing, talked to attendees about why trust in science remains high—and why so many scientists think otherwise.
Besley chatted with Science about his take-home points from the session. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Q - Lesson - Scientists
Q: What’s the most important lesson for scientists?
I think scientists need to recognize how much confidence most Americans have in our community. If we keep emphasizing this idea of a decline in trust, we communicate from this sort of defensive position. Instead, I think we should recognize how lucky we are that we get to explore some interesting things, and we should be excited about sharing it with people who might be interested.
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Q - Community - Rhetoric
Q: Why do you think that the scientific community sometimes uses “defensive rhetoric”?
I think it’s normal to be worried about how others view us, and I think we’re often...
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