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The Chairman's Blog
Do You Trust Science?
The Chairman's Blog

Do You Trust Science?

We're living at a time in history when trust in many major institutions of importance around the world has collapsed. In the U.S., trust in Congress, the media, religion and government is on the ropes.

Institutions and their leaders are expected to lead our nations and the world in a way that improves our lives. But Gallup finds in its biggest global study of "what followers want" that leadership begins with trust. When institutions and their leaders are deeply distrusted, they can't lead.

What if trust in science and health crashed?

Worldwide institutions of the highest importance -- especially at the moment -- are those in the field of science. What if trust in science and health crashed? So that when there is news of a potential pandemic, we just don't believe it? What if we don't believe any of the information we receive about vaccines and medicine? What if we simply don't believe the advice of doctors and nurses around the world? Or what if we have such little trust in media that our poor perception of the messenger overrides honest, helpful information about health?

The combination of global distrust of so many institutions risks bringing them all down.

Fourteen years ago, Gallup built its now famous World Poll, which allows 7 billion people to have a voice in almost all decisions being made everywhere. Gallup has now joined with Wellcome to create the Wellcome Global Monitor to track across 144 countries -- for the first time ever -- the official world statistics on public attitudes toward science and health. This survey was included on the 2018 World Poll.

Within the Wellcome Global Monitor data is a massive amount of never-before-seen findings. Among these is the major trust gap in Northern America between health messages received from doctors and nurses and those from the government: 92% trust health advice from medical workers -- but only 61% of people trust the government for medical advice.

Findings such as this one not only apply to you, your institution and your country, but to the very role science plays in our lives and in the future of humankind.


Jim Clifton is Chairman of Gallup.

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