The public mostly trusts science. So why are scientists worried?

February 18, 2018 - Cat Jackson, Science Magazine

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AUSTIN—Some scientists might be surprised by a 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 seven in 10 Americans believe the effects of scientific research are more positive than negative for society. Yesterday, here at the annual meeting of 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: What’s the most important lesson for scientists?