How Scientists Can Promote Public Trust in Science
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As National Academy of Sciences (NAS) member Susan Fiske has demonstrated in her research, public trust in any profession involves two distinct factors: competence and warmth. The former measure indicates the degree to which the public views those individuals as being masters of their trade. The second measure indicates the degree to which the public views those individuals as sharing their values and working for their benefit. On the former scale, scientists are close to the top relative to other professions: citizens feel that scientists are experts at what they do. In terms of the latter, scientists are barely middle of the pack. Citizens are too likely to assign unflattering motives to the work of researchers, such as fame, funding, or worse. NAS President Marcia McNutt will discuss what the scientific community can do to become more trustworthy and to translate that trustworthiness into public trust.