Lee Rainie, director of internet and technology research, presented a synthesis of the Pew Research Center’s growing explorations of issues related to trust, facts and democracy at a forum hosted by the International Institute of Communications on December 5, 2018.
America’s confidence in the scientific community appears to be relatively strong. But the degree of public trust in scientists across climate, food and medical issues varies, and many express moderate rather than strongly positive views.
Experts are split on whether the coming years will see less misinformation online. Those who foresee improvement hope for technological and societal solutions. Others say bad actors using technology can exploit human vulnerabilities.
Many experts say lack of trust won't hinder increased public reliance on the internet. Some expect trust to grow as tech and regulatory changes arise; others think it will worsen or maybe change entirely.
Many experts fear uncivil and manipulative behaviors on the internet will persist – and may get worse.
Despite broadly similar views about the overall place of science in America, there are striking differences between the public and scientists’ views on a host of science-related issues.