A nurse welcomes a mother and her daughter at a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. A new survey suggests the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic may have boosted public trust in science and scientists. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

A nurse welcomes a mother and her daughter at a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. A new survey suggests the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic may have boosted public trust in science and scientists. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

COVID may have reversed decline in Canadian trust in scientists, survey says

50 per cent of Canadians said they’re now more willing to advocate for science due to the pandemic

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic may have boosted failing public trust in science and scientists, a new survey has found.

“I think it’s fantastic that we see the decline in skepticism about science among Canadians,” said Brett McCollum, a chemist at Calgary’s Mount Royal University who has seen the results of the survey.

Since 2018, the 3M company has commissioned an annual global poll on a wide variety of attitudes toward science.

In 2018, about 29 per cent of people around the world said they were skeptical of science. That had increased to about 35 per cent by the fall of 2019.

But by the following summer, that skepticism had dropped back down to 28 per cent.

Canadian figures, where more than 1,000 people were surveyed, followed suit. Skepticism toward science dropped from 29 per cent pre-pandemic to 21 per cent afterward.

As well, 50 per cent of Canadians said they’re now more willing to advocate for science due to the pandemic. Before COVID, that figure was 25 per cent.

People also seem more willing to consider scientific evidence with open minds.

Before the pandemic, about 30 per cent of Canadians said they only believed science that corresponded to what they already believed. That figure was consistent with previous years.

But by last summer, that figure had dropped to 22 per cent.

Trust in scientists and in science itself has also grown slightly in Canada since COVID’s onset. Both have gained a couple percentage points, to 89 and 91 per cent respectively.

McCollum, who is also a 3M research chair, suggests the pandemic has brought home to people the real-world importance of scientific understanding.

“A research project done in a lab in a university, you don’t see that impact in your daily life. We don’t necessarily as citizens see that full path.

“I think the pandemic has given all of us an opportunity to pause and reflect and ask ‘who’s going to solve the pandemic?’”

McCollum said the growing credibility of scientists comes with a responsibility to speak out about what science concludes about the consequences of political decisions.

READ MORE: Two-thirds of Canadians would support a COVID-19 curfew if pandemic severe

“Scientists are also citizens.”

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP don’t want to see you having your vehicle towed away after an aggressive driving infraction. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP hand out more than 500 tickets in aggressive driving crackdown

Police say they’ll continue to focus on speeding, aggressive and distracted driving

Home sales for November in the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board were profitable for sellers because of historically low supply. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)
Historically low supply leads to higher prices in Chilliwack real estate market

City dwellers want to relocate to the eastern Fraser Valley and are willing to pay a high price

Riders will need to don face coverings to ski and snowboard at Manning this winter. (Manning Park Resort photo)
Manning Park slopes open early

Early season snowfall allowed for opening this weekend, 56 centimetre snow base recorded Nov. 30

Mr. Bergen, a statue of a working man, was stolen from a porch in Popkum on Nov. 18, along with a marble statue. (Submitted photo)
Heavy statue and fountain thieved off porch in Popkum

Rightful owner has had statue for 27 years and wants it returned

The winning home of the 2019 Hope Christmas Lights contest was on Cypress Street. Residents have until Dec. 5 to sign their street up for this year’s contest. (Submitted photo)
Holiday cheer, even in a pandemic year

Here’s what is happening in Hope and area as the holiday season kicks off

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Lefeuvre Road, near Myrtle Avenue, was blocked to traffic on Thursday (Dec. 3) after an abandoned pickup truck was found on fire. Police are investigating to determine if there are any links to a killing an hour earlier in Surrey. (Shane MacKichan photo)
Torched truck found in Abbotsford an hour after killing in Surrey

Police still investigating to determine if incidents are linked

Surrey Pretrial centre in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial hit with human rights complaint over mattress

The inmate who lodged the complaint said he needed a second mattress to help him manage his arthritis

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

Most Read