From Nautilus blogger Brian Gallagher:
What if scientists were more transparent about their values? Would their results and recommendations be better received and more trusted if they acknowledged any relevant personal beliefs that may have shaped their research? That’s what Kevin C. Elliott and colleagues, authors of the PLoS ONE study, sought to determine with some online experiments. They recruited 494 U.S.-participants from Amazon Mechanical Turk (a “convenience sample”—more “male, younger, more highly educated, and more liberal” than a representative sample) to take a survey; it was advertised vaguely as “Your Attitudes about Important Social Issues in the US” to solicit a broad cross-section of people not particularly interested in, or opinionated about, the issues discussed in the experiments.
In each experiment, participants registered their impressions of the scientist and their conclusions—were they competent, credible, expert, honest, intelligent, sincere, or trustworthy?—on a 7-point scale. Elliott and his team concluded that disclosing a scientist’s values doesn’t boost his or her credibility or the trustworthiness of the conclusion reached. In fact, the additional transparency can reduce them! More.
Actually, doesn’t “disclosing a scientist’s values” just make the whole process more honest?
In reality, the biggest problem today is not whether scientists are trusted but whether they should be.
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See also: Censored researchers: Nutrition is a “degenerating” research paradigm. It’s an interesting fact about post-modern society that one often hears commentators obsessing about why the public “hates” or “fears” science. These claims are simply incoherent with the fact that the public actually knows that many things are going wrong.