Brazil is the country with the highest proportion of people who do not trust scientists. A study published on Tuesday (29) shows that 36% of Brazilians say they have little or no confidence in scientific researchers.
The survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center, an American research center, and is based on interviews with 32,000 people from 20 countries. The research was done before the pandemic started.
On the global average, 36% of people said they trust scientists a lot, 40% sometimes and 17% little or nothing. In Brazil, only 23% said they trusted a lot and 36% sometimes.
After the Brazilians, the countries with the least confidence are Malaysia (33% trust little or nothing) and Taiwan (31%). Among those with the most people who say they trust a lot is India (59%), followed by Australia and Spain (both with 48%).
Brazilians are also the ones who worst assess national scientific advances compared to other countries. Only 8% say they believe that scientific production in Brazil is better than that of the rest of the world. For 42% it is in the world average and below for 41%.
In the United States and United Kingdom, 61% of the population believes they have the best scientific production in the world or above the global average.
“The survey presents a global picture of public opinion on the role of science in society. It is important to identify these perceptions now that the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic shed light on issues such as vaccines, climate change and artificial intelligence development, ”says Cary Funk, research director for science and society at the center.
Even with numbers below the global average, scientists are the professionals most trusted by Brazilians. After them, the military (21% say they trust a lot), journalists (12%), politicians (9%) and, finally, businessmen (4%).
The study also found that, in general, trust in scientists is greater among people who identify themselves politically as on the left than with those on the right. Brazil, however, is the only country where the political position does not alter confidence.
The difference is more pronounced in the United States, where 62% of the people who identify themselves as on the left said they trusted scientists a lot. Among right-wing people, 20% say they trust a lot. The same was verified in Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, among others.
“Education and political ideology influence the way people see scientists. Those with more years of study and who identify themselves politically as on the left express greater confidence in scientists, ”says the report.
In Brazil, 16% of those who have not completed high school say they trust scientists a lot. Among those who completed this stage of education, the number rises to 31%.
The survey interviewed people from Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. This is the center’s first survey on the international public perception of scientific production.