Louise Lief

Whose Job Is It to Help Build Public Trust in Science?

Scientific American


This article was published in Scientific American’s former blog network and reflects the views of the author, not necessarily those of Scientific American

We live in a moment when preventable infectious diseases like measles are spreading because parents distrust vaccines, and scientists at government agencies are being told not to use terms like “evidence-based.” The president dismisses the findings of a National Climate Assessment by more than 300 scientists and 13 federal agencies that warns of massive economic and environmental damage totaling hundreds of billions of dollars, crop failures, disrupted supply chains and multiple threats to human health, saying, “I don’t believe it.”

But when I argued in favor of the proposition (Resolved: “Science writers are responsible for building public trust in science”) during a debate at the National Association of Science Writers’ 2018 annual conference last fall, the majority of science writers and science journalists present voted that building public trust in science was not the responsibility of science writers.

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Louise Lief is an independent consultant to philanthropy, non-profits and media, helping mission-driven organizations design, execute and communicate program strategies to achieve their objectives with maximum impact.

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