Expertise Under Assault

Is skepticism toward scientists and other experts growing?


Distrust of government and scientific experts has taken disturbing forms recently — from the violent attack on the Capitol by a mob that refused to believe election results, to conspiracy theories about the supposed dangers of vaccines. A society that does not believe the same set of facts cannot hold together, some experts warn. If more people are not persuaded to trust the coronavirus vaccine, the nation might not be able to achieve the “herd immunity” needed to stop the pandemic. Some blame social media and echo chambers of like-minded users. Others point to populism and its disdain for elites. Yet mistrust of the establishment has also been positive — leading to movements for social change in fields ranging from medicine to environmental protection. Americans ...

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