By William DiPuccio
Skepticism is at the heart of the scientific method. Question everything. Test everything. Scientific knowledge is established by evidence, not authority. The method is sound, but the execution may be imperfect. That’s why I have faith in the methods of science but not necessarily in scientists.
Experts in science have a store of credibility that can be maintained only by their performance. I have a great deal of trust in the meteorologists at the National Weather Service because their forecasts are 80%–90% accurate (no weatherman jokes, please — I used to be one!). But if most of their predictions began to fail, I would turn elsewhere for my weather forecasts.
So it comes as a surprise that so many in the public have expressed a growing trust in medical scientists, even after a series of spectacular failures. According to a newly published survey by Pew Research, public confidence in medical scientists to act in the best interest of the public increased from 35% in 2019, with “a great deal of confidence before the outbreak,” to 43% in April 2020.
Granted, some of the public health failures surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic were the result of incomplete data, but many of them could have been avoided. MORE