I really do believe that at least part of the problem of people distrusting science has to do with how we as scientists portray ourselves.
We have actively created a system where we derive authority from being seen as better/smarter/more competent than everyone else and then when people ask why they should trust us we respond with a very condescending version of ‘because SCIENCE IS FACT’ or something along those lines.
Like, consider how that would feel from the outside? Here are a small group of people who you have never met/interacted with who sequester themselves in impenetrable ~elite institutions that you can’t access and don’t feel party to who then tell you that what they say is fact because they’re smarter and better educated than you. And if you ever try to question them (no matter how reasonable your objections may be/seem to you) they condescendingly pat you on the head and say something like ‘don’t worry we know better. you can’t possibly understand what we do.’
Why the hell would you trust them?
No one likes being told that they’re not smart enough to understand something, and no one likes feeling excluded from something they’ve essentially been asked to accept sight unseen.
I don’t really have a solution to this, except some vague notion about working harder to portray scientists as people working a job, rather than geniuses who are above it all.
And like trying harder to understand where people are coming from when they question science. And remembering that being better educated than most doesn’t make us smarter than most. It just makes us better trained in certain types of thinking.
I just think we need to keep in mind what we are asking of people. Which is to put a whole hell of a lot of faith in us.