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.
Despite the best efforts of everyone involved, something truly nasty escaped Earth. They call it giardia, a microscopic organism that their Planetary Protection Officer called “pretty dumb” and “not too bad, really, a week of digestive upset and then it’s over.”
Yes, Earth has a Planetary Protection Officer. They have a Planetary Protection Office, and have had one since they were sending probes around their own solar system. Doctor Ma-et had found it a bit silly, like a child concerned about the cleanliness of their toys, until she learned that the job of the Planetary Protection Office had always been protecting other worlds from Earth.
okay but…james rhodes’ mad scientist aesthetic. the kid went to MIT to study aviation engineering, he is a little nerd, okay. so like. imagine mit era rhodey and tony renting out a lab space in school to share for the school year (other science/engineering students are like “???are they allowed to do that???” and honestly the professors don’t know but they’re pretty sure howard stark came and made the dean cry when he tried to tell them no so they’re just letting it happen.)
everyone expects Tony’s half of the lab to be messy and for him to always have something slightly on fire.
what they don’t expect is rhodey’s fucking catastrophe of a work station. there are spare piece of metal everywhere, empty coffee cups, old to-go boxes. his computer is missing its back panel because he cannibalized it for parts. he once fell asleep there with goggles on and had an indent on his forehead for days. There was an Incident That We Don’t Talk About™, that left his neck and chest GREEN. (D O N O T A S K W H Y H E I S L E G A L L Y N O T A L L O W E D T O S A Y)
He’s not quite covered in oil or grease, but his dark circles are in a league of their own, and his hands and arms are permanently littered with bruised and cuts and burns from building prototypes, and experiments gone wrong.
Just, James Rhodes’ being a scientist.