Poll Shows Declining Trust in Scientists and Other Groups


The results of a Pew Research Center survey released this week show a notable decline in trust bestowed by Americans to various groups and institutions. The study, which surveyed 14,497 U.S. adults late last year, looked at public confidence in groups such as medical scientists, scientists, the military, religious leaders, journalists, elected officials, and others. Findings reveal an unsurprising downward shift in public trust in every group.

While scientists and medical scientists enjoyed a brief increase in public trust midway through the pandemic, respondents indicated a steep drop in confidence from November 2020 through the end of 2021. Of those surveyed, only 29% said they have a “great deal of trust” in medical scientists to act in the best interests of the public. This percentage was down from 40% the previous year. Likewise, the same percentage said they have a “great deal of trust” in scientists. Both findings reveal public confidence in medical scientists and scientists is now lower than pre-pandemic levels.

Other groups that experienced a decline in public confidence ratings include the military and police officers. Down 13 points from November 2020, only 25% now express a “great deal of confidence” in the military to act in the best interests of the nation. Police officers similarly saw a 6 point drop in public confidence. Despite a loss of overwhelming confidence in the military to act in the interest of the public, poll results reveal that 74% of Americans still hold a “fair amount of confidence” in the military to act in the public’s best interests.

Perhaps even less surprising than the findings shared above, is the reported decline of public trust in the journalists, business leaders, and elected officials. Survey results show even negative levels of public confidence, as 60% of respondents said they have “not too much” or “no confidence at all” in journalists, up 6 points from the previous year. The same percentage expressed little or no confidence in journalists. In line with other poll results that show a decrease in presidential and Congressional approval ratings, the results of the Pew Research Survey indicate a stunning 76% of Americans currently maintain little to trust in elected leaders, compared to just 2% that hold a “great deal” of public confidence in elected officials.

As nearly every group and institutions grow increasingly politicized, public trust is likely to continue its decline.

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Aly is a military spouse and mom to two. She has a special interest in international security and foreign affairs, having lived overseas, worked with Sister Cities International and served as a commissioning editor for an international relations website. Aly holds a Masters in Global Studies and International Relations from Northeastern University and currently resides in Tennessee.
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One thought on “Poll Shows Declining Trust in Scientists and Other Groups”

  1. Because of “people” like FRAUDci, I would not throw science and scientist as far as I could throw a boulder. I believe they are all creeps. Especially those with science in their name, like creepy Bill Nye.