Yesterday, the Pew Research Center released an analysis of polling results on Americans' views of science. In general, the poll was good news for the research community, showing a gradual-but-steady rise in the public's view of scientists. But there were a few areas of concern within the data, which showed that the public still worries about issues like scientific misconduct and conflicts of interest. And the numbers reveal a partisan divide on the situations where scientists are trustworthy.
The poll relied on Pew's American Trends Panel, a group that can include up to 13,500 US residents, though not all will participate in every survey. In this case, over 4,500 were asked to share their views on science.
A partisan divide
Scientists have consistently been one of the most respected segments of the US population, and these results are in keeping with that. When the Pew asked whether people viewed scientists as acting in the public interest, 86% of the panel said yes. That puts scientists well ahead of politicians, business people, and the media, and roughly on par with the US military. This was higher among those with a strong knowledge of science, and higher among Democrats than Republicans (though 82% of Republicans still had a positive view of scientists).