May 27, 2022

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Do Poles trust science and scientists? I love science

Estimated time: 7 minutes

Although 71% of respondents believe that science and the work of scientists are making continuous progress for the benefit of society and the economy, only half of them express great confidence in the results of published research. Why is this happening and what influences the level of Poles’ confidence in learning?

Trust learning among Poles

In a recent disinformation report seen through the eyes of the Poles[1], the level of confidence in science among Poles was tested. Research shows that social trust in science and the work of scientists is very good (about 3/4 of the respondents think we owe the social and economic progress to science, and about the same number of respondents believe that thanks to scientific research we can create technologies that help we take care of the climate in the right perspective).

On the other hand, there are those whose belief in science is not strong. 1/3 of the Poles who asked for their opinion believe that scientists mainly conduct research commissioned by large companies, which is why the results of this research are distorted. In turn, 1/4 of the respondents believe that the results of scientific research are not very reliable, because there are as many confirmatory studies as studies that contradict a particular thesis.

Trust in Scientists: A Rare Product

Why then, despite the general belief in science and the work of scientists who contribute to the development of many branches of social or economic life, many people doubt science? Why, despite wide access to knowledge, including reliable scientific research, is a part of society willing to trust ordinary charlatans who have little in common with scientific truth and knowledge?

Apparently, we noticed this issue during the COVID-19 pandemic. How is the level of trust in scientists in some circles so low and so much information has appeared on the Internet that they deny the pandemic itself or the scientific methods for dealing with it?

What went wrong next and what makes trust in scientists sometimes so low?

There is no relationship between scholars and the masses

A relationship is needed to build trust on the sender and receiver line. And this, unfortunately, is generally lacking in scholars. Celebrities and pseudo-teachers, around whom crowds of loyal fans gather, are the owners. So, if a famous singer who has no basis for talking about medical and scientific topics questions the existence of an epidemic and does so convincingly to most of her fans, what is the strength of a professor from respected institutions? The person who does not have the millionth Instagram account, which he uses on a daily basis to build a relationship with his recipients.

incomprehensible secret language

We don’t have an agreement with the scientific community, because scientists have been using it for decades Court language, incomprehensible to the average recipient.

The scientist’s job is to doubt and to ask an infinite number of questions. Imagine a discussion situation involving a journalist, a scientist, and a public figure outside the scientific community. When a topic appears in such a company related to a purely scientific field, and the scientist does not give an unambiguous answer to a particular thesis question or questions and expresses himself ambiguously on this topic, a red lamp lights up in the person’s mind. average recipient. However, this does not mean a desire to delve into the topic in question, but rather a loss of trust (perhaps still weak) in the world. With the rest, scientists should have simple, unambiguous answers, the better the specialist, the lower the probability of a zero answer.

Fortunately, more and more people from the world of science and reliable journalism are trying to reverse this trend today.

Because science doesn’t give you simple, zero-one answers

One thing about science is that it doesn’t offer one-size-fits-all answers. For this reason, it is easier for the average person to believe in charlatans who promise quick and easy solutions than to engage in analyzing and understanding the most difficult and addictive processes. Seeing simple solutions makes us feel safe. 1/4 of the respondents said that the results of the research conducted by scientists are not very reliable, because there are many studies that confirm a certain thesis and there are studies that contradict it.[2]. Unfortunately, the average person doesn’t realize (and no wonder, because no one taught us that) that not all post types have the same value and can’t fit into a simple mathematical scale. For example, a case study has less scientific value than studies that focus on a larger population. But this is a topic for a separate article.

Battle for feelings

One of the most important sins of modern media is the lack of primary and basic tools for interpreting scientific information and for searching for sensation. It is not surprising today that journalists, unfortunately, often look for cheap sensations, and what is important for publishers is the number of “clicks”, which are simply followed by advertising money. Often, even if an explanation for a phenomenon appears in the text and is reliable, it appears at the end of the text. The title and introduction should be eye-catching, and unfortunately, as research shows, up to 59% of people, firstly, do not read the content to the end, and secondly, do not read what it offers.[3]. Our reading often ends with the first paragraphs. (It’s great that you made it here!)

Fake Ad Experts

Due to the fact that the scientist/doctor’s image has been used in product advertising for years, trust in this type of specialist has waned. Advertising often doesn’t help delusional scientists advertise a trusted toothpaste, over-the-counter drug, or other “miracle” nutritional supplement. Even if we are dealing with a real world, the context of a pharmaceutical company or a large corporation means that the authority of this world is not very high. The above study shows that a third of Poles believe that scientists mainly conduct research commissioned by large companies, which means that the results of these studies are skewed.[4].

Mistakes of knowledge and knowledge

There are also problems with cognitive bias. We don’t like hearing what doesn’t match our beliefs. We are talking about the effect of stress. This is one of the basic cognitive biases that people tend to like information that matches our opinions and expectations. It is hard for us to find ourselves in a situation where someone destroys our worldview and thus makes us feel threatened.

Opinions vs facts

Today, fortunately, we can freely express our opinions and views and in principle Everyone can comment on any topic. However, this can run the risk of someone’s point of view (often someone with a large reach on social media) being considered correct. Moreover, there is a great danger that our freedom of expression on any topic will become a space for spreading false and dangerous news.

Expanded article on What is the anatomy of counterfeit products and where fake news comes from, you can read in the report “Science. I am checking it out”.

In the information forest

We are every day Crowded and bombarded with information. Sometimes it can be hard to find your way around them. Our natural instinct is to ask everyone at once. Universal access to knowledge turns out to be the bane of our time. On the other hand, everyone, anywhere in the world, has virtually unlimited access to information, but not just reliable information. In the maze of misinformation and simple bullshit, it’s really hard to find what’s real.

Interesting according to previous studyThe most skeptical of the results of science, scientists and research is certainly the group of young people between the ages of 18 and 34. The percentage difference between the above group and the elderly (55+) was 21%. Why this lack of faith in learning among young people? The problem is complicated, but the culprits are largely the scientists themselves, who for a long time did not build relationships with recipients and did not try to ensure that the fruits of their labor had a chance to reach the common man. On the other hand, this opportunity has been exploited by charlatans and pseudo-teachers who have a relationship with the recipients and provide simple solutions and answers that the recipients expect.

The education system is failing

And how does our education system fit into all this, which should be the first lock in a skilful truth-seeking process? Unfortunately, the Polish school does not teach the principles of operating scientific methods and does not help in acquiring critical thinking skills. There are no fake news classes in Polish schools and the school does not provide any tools to verify information. Young people are condemned to themselves and what the Internet offers them. No wonder, then, that the smallest group of respondents was the least trusted by science and scientists.

Read also: Fake news – how do you know it’s true or false?

Margins:

[1] Disinformation through the eyes of the Poles | 2022 Sponsored by Piotr Mieczkowski, Collaboration | Elipita Kowalska

[2] Disinformation through the eyes of the Poles | 2022 Sponsored by Piotr Mieczkowski, Collaboration | Elipita Kowalska, p. 139

[3] https://newsroom.netpr.pl/pr/325333/wystarczy-tylko-chwytliwy-tytul-i-lead-az-59-osob-nie-czyta-tresci-ktore-udostepnia-w-social-media

[4] Disinformation through the eyes of the Poles | 2022 Sponsored by Piotr Mieczkowski, Collaboration | Elipita Kowalska, p. 139

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