Americans Trust Scientists, But Not Priests or Presidents - And That's Concerning


The new religious cult sweeping America by storm is sciencetology. Sciencetology (not Scientology): an absolute childlike faith in mortals who identify as scientists.

According to Ipsos’ latest Global Trustworthiness Index, scientists are the most trusted professionals in the world, and in the United States, they’re eclipsed only by doctors and military personnel.

If that doesn’t sound like America’s foremost religion, consider that while 61 percent of poll respondents trust scientists and 64 percent trust doctors, only 25 percent trust clergy. That’s right, twice as many Americans trust the scholars who inform them about diseases, vaccines and medicines than trust the ones who teach them about God.

Journalists are trusted by 26 percent of Americans, according to the poll. That may be more than they deserve these days, considering that so many media outlets are profit-centered troughs doling out political comfort food to their audiences and readerships.

While respondents trust our troops (64 percent), only 53 percent trust our police officers. Maybe that’s why the former are usually greeted with “thank you for your service” salutations from Americans of all political stripes while the latter are often spat upon.

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Politicians fare worst of all. They rank dead last, at an embarrassingly low 9 percent trustworthiness rate. It’s no wonder, then, that when elected officials are accused of wrongdoing, so many Americans are primed to reflexively believe the worst, but hardly anyone questions the integrity and competence of doctors and scientists.

Presidents used to be trusted a great deal. It was not uncommon, as recently as 50 years ago, to have a portrait of the president on the kitchen or living room wall, as if he were a member of the family.

No one compared hanging a picture of FDR or JFK to fascist idolatry. Nowadays, though, suggest that a president has committed treason and opposition party voters will believe it in a nanosecond.

But dare to question the efficacy of a vaccine, let alone suggest that Big Pharma might be a tad overeager to promote one because of the hundreds of billions of dollars waiting to be raked in, and you’ll be canceled faster than a celebrity whose former secretaries now accuse him of having referred to them as “girls” back in 1983.

Should Americans trust scientists and doctors?

Pharmaceutical commercials prompt us to “ask your doctor” about the latest cure-all pill, usually with the letters “x” and “z” in the brand name to make it sound more effective. But shouldn’t our doctors be the ones to tell us what drugs we need instead of the other way around?

After all, if they’re the most trusted professionals in the country, why are we the ones telling them how to do their jobs? It’s not like we’re bombarded with commercials that direct us to “ask your mechanic about Acme Antifreeze,” evidently because there’s not an astronomical amount of money to be made from it.

Just 25 percent of respondents trust pollsters, which is why responders have taken to messing with them on purpose, intentionally feeding them incorrect information, which embarrasses them election after election. Pollsters, you’ve been punked.

Lawyers earned the trust of a paltry 29 percent of the poll respondents, and they comprise roughly 33 percent of the House of Representatives. Hmm, maybe if there were fewer attorneys on Capitol Hill it might compel more than just 9 percent of the people to trust politicians?

One of the highest-ranking categories, at 47 percent, is the catch-all “ordinary men and women.” I would venture to guess that includes welders, forklift operators, construction workers, plumbers and truck drivers.

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Donald Trump’s meteoric rise in American politics contributed to newfound prestige for the non-elites, as stodgy establishmentarians in both major parties are quickly going the way of the dodo bird and eight-track cartridge player.

Although well under half of Americans trust the reporters who bring them the news and the elected officials to whom we all entrust our futures, when it comes to matters of life and death, like popping a pill, getting a jab, or going under the knife, we’re like the kid on Christmas Eve who leaves milk and cookies out for Santa.

One has to wonder why. Think about that the next time you hear the mantra, “listen to the science.”

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Constantinos E. (“Dino”) Scaros, JD, Ph.D., is a presidential historian, educator, attorney, newspaper editor and columnist, and political analyst. He is also the author of several books covering many contemporary issues, most recently "How to Talk Politics Without Arguing," "Trumped-Up Charges!" and "Stop Calling Them 'Immigrants.'" Follow him on his Facebook page: Listen to Dino.