People will not trust unkind science


A mean and aggressive research working culture threatens the public’s respect for scientists and their expertise, says Gail Cardew.

Earlier this month, a survey from Wellcome in London confirmed that unkindness, and worse, is pervasive in science. Academic leaders expressed alarm — both for the health of young researchers and for how such pressure could erode the quality of science. I think there is more to worry about.

What hope is there for those in science to build a trusting and respectful relationship with the public when so many scientists are schooled in a culture lacking these qualities?

The need for trust and respect is particularly acute now, when people, as the British politician Michael Gove infamously put it, “have had enough of experts”. Similar arguments have come from around the world.

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