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Trust in science is high, but misinformation is a threat

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Trust in science is growing around the world, according to a 3M-backed survey released Tuesday, and more people expect it to solve the world’s problems.

But the fifth annual 3M State of Science Index also showed that many fear misinformation could lead to more public health crises, greater societal divisions and a lack of action on climate change.

“It’s really good to see that trust in science is high, and that’s true in America and around the world, but misinformation threatens scientific credibility,” said Jayshree Seth, corporate scientist and science advocate. chief science officer at 3M, in an interview. “It’s not just about communicating facts, data and evidence. We have to build this relationship with the public.

Since 2018, 3M has sought to measure global attitudes toward science and the role it plays in society to help nuance decision-making.

Last fall, global research firm Ipsos surveyed 17,000 adults in 17 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Singapore, South Korea , United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States

Ninety percent of respondents said they trust science at least somewhat, up from 84% in 2020. About half of respondents said they consider science important in their daily lives, and 61% of those under 40 said so.

“The deep level of trust that younger generations have in science and the growing role it plays in their lives is a very promising sign for the future,” 3M chief executive Mike Roman said in a statement. .

Seth said building and maintaining that trust means direct and clear communication that is rich in context.

“You have to get people to understand how the scientific method works – it’s based on data, debate, discussion and discourse,” she said. “When new data is discovered, new recommendations emerge.”

To combat misinformation, which encompasses a range of false, deliberately misleading or out-of-context media, consumers must take the initiative to confirm their credibility.

“There’s a deep sense of urgency around this,” Seth said. “It’s a complex problem, and a multi-disciplinary, cross-disciplinary approach will be needed.”

Other survey results showed that 4 in 5 respondents said they or a loved one could be displaced by extreme weather events linked to climate change. Global concern about climate change is also growing.

“To address these concerns, investing in innovations to mitigate the effects of climate change is one of the top actions companies should prioritize, second only to improving the quality of healthcare,” the survey says. .

The study also looked at education and opportunity gaps in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“While 87% of people believe it is important to increase diversity and inclusion in STEM fields, 71% say underrepresented minorities often do not have equal access to STEM education “, revealed the investigation.

Seth said there was a clear public imperative to improve access to science education and careers.

“We need a more diverse scientific community to tackle all the challenges we face,” she said. “We want to tell people that they can dismantle archetypes, break stereotypes and lead the way. Everyone is of the “scientific type”. ”


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