Faith in Science Poll

Faith in science is a topic we covered here last month, but a new HuffPost/YouGov poll provides some numbers on this problem.

    • 78% of people assume that scientific results are often or sometimes influenced by political ideology.
    • 82% of people assume that scientific findings are influenced by their funding source.
    • 87% of people have some level of trust that what scientists say is accurate and reliable.
    • 69% of people have level of trust in that information when it comes from journalists.

Some of these results are heavily influenced by political party affiliation creating a nearly 30 point spread in people placing a lot of trust in scientists. Belief that scientific findings are often influenced by political ideology has a 25 point spread. Overall, people who identify as Republican are far more likely to distrust scientists and assume that scientific findings are distorted based on political ideologies.

Since so many people believe that scientific results are influenced by the funding source, it is worth noting that the vast majority of peer-reviewed science is publicly funded. It is unclear whether this concern is because privately-funded research can be aggressively commercialized and pushed into the public sphere or if people are unaware that their tax dollars are paying for so much science. Many privately-funded studies are eventually subject to peer-review, but some are published directly on companies’ websites, bypassing the peer-review process.

You can read a summary of the poll here with the complete results and tabulations available here.

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