News & Views
Which Countries Trust Science?
Aug 01 2019 Read 504 Times
While science may seem black-and-white to most people, a new survey published by Gallup World Poll reveals that different regions of the world have varying levels of trust in scientists. The survey was commissioned by Wellcome Trust, a biomedical charity based in London. It drew on responses from more than 140,000 people across 140 countries, quizzing them on their thoughts towards health and science. Responses were then categorised according to an index based on five key questions. Wellcome Trust found that while in general most people have a good level of trust for scientists, the regional differences in attitudes towards science and healthcare are striking.
"The Wellcome Global Monitor will provide robust evidence on how public attitudes vary across different demographic groups and countries," reads a statement on the Wellcome website. "This evidence will help us and other foundations, researchers and policy makers around the world to promote debate, and frame proposals for action to improve engagement and trust in science and healthcare."
Lack of government trust drives scientific cynicism
Across the globe, almost three quarters of people regard scientists with a steady level of trust. Specifically, 54% of people have a medium level of trust for scientists, while 18% have a high level. Of the survey respondents, 14% admitted to having a low level of trust. France was one of the most sceptical countries, with around one-third of French respondents disagreeing with the statement that vaccines are safe. Southern African and Latin America countries were also unconvinced, with more than one-third of people asserting science helps “very few” people.
Experts warn one of the biggest factors driving mistrust is lack of trust in the government and health authorities. Uzbekistan residents were the most trusting, with countries in Central Asia also endowing science with a high level of trust.
Study identified gender gap in scientific confidence
Another interesting observation from the study was a noticeable gender gap in personal understandings of scientific knowledge. While almost 50% of participating men claim to know "some" or "a lot" about science in general, just 38% of women were confident in their knowledge. The team built on this trend by comparing the self-assessments of individuals with results based on tests. They found that people in the United States tend to overestimate their scientific knowledge, while people in China sell themselves short.
One of the main goals of the Wellcome Trust is to spark global engagement and promote trust in science and healthcare. For a closer look at how new technologies are helping the healthcare industry progress, don't miss 'Accelerating innovation in virtually all fields of research'
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