Science has a Confidence Deficit
Graph of the Week #6
Overall, science enjoys broad public support in the United States. However, according to a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, levels of confidence in scientists vary according to race/ethnicity, political affiliation and education.
The graph above shows differences among groups surveyed by Pew in their confidence in science from a baseline of white college-educated Democrats (or lean Democratic). Specifically, the graph shows the percentage in each group surveyed by Pew who answered “a great deal” to the question “How much confidence, if any, do you have in scientists to act in the best interests of the public?”
Those who have the most confidence in science are, in general, most like most scientists - white, Democrats and having at least a college education. These data should raise some uncomfortable questions within the scientific community about why the confidence deficit exists and how it might be addressed. Surely part of the answer lies in the lack of diversity among the scientific community as compared to the society of which it is a part.