Is there an issue on which you think the accepted science is wrong, or untrustworthy?

A growing percentage of the population doubts that human activity contributes to global warming. Many Americans also dispute the value of vaccines and the evidence of evolution. Is there an issue on which you think the accepted science is wrong, or untrustworthy?

  • Greg Hruby

    The science of economics. Far too much of it is based on the physics model that accepts that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It ignores the impact of human physchological response and intpretations both for individuals and group. Under the currrent system where very few individuals control the majority of the wealth/resources, the entire system is exposed to individual and/or small-group phsychological imperfections. Under that same system, the masses respond in non-linear, non-coherent blocks where membership changes can occur suddenly and dramatically. In the physics-based economics model – group membership change is not implicitly accounted for within the computed outcome and there is no accounting for the behavioral changes that occur in groups when no measureable “physics factor” such as job loss, health change, catastrophe, etc can be identified. Fear, panic, security, mob-behavior are not measured and yet each of us knows these feelings shape our decisions whether rational or irrational . The physics based econoomic modeling has led us to make international, national, and state/local/personal decisions that are devoid of the single most important decision factor – human physchology.

  • Michael Pillsbury

    “Accepted science” is kind of an oxymoron. No science should be “accepted” without rigorous experimentation and validation. If a theory is wrong, it will eventually be proven wrong by a more accurate model. This is the essence of science.

    But for right now, the model of global warming affected by human activity is the best we’ve got. It’s not up to the public to validate it. Science has already validated it. Further science may invalidate it, but home-schoolers without the facts and the research and an alternative theory should not be a part of the discussion.

  • Steven

    I tend to distrust the scientific community a lot less than their non-scientist critics (e.g., climate-change deniers and creationists), who tend to have obvious ideological or economic motives driving their opinions.

    Of course, a good scientist would never claim to have discovered any absolute truth. Healthy skepticism is essential to good science. The most any scientific theory can claim is that it explains what we observe better than other theories that have been proposed so far.

    Scientists have all the psychological flaws that other human beings do. Conventional wisdom, group-think, rivalries, personal ambition, ideologies, etc., are all factors that distort scientific objectivity. But scientists at least have objectivity as an aspirational goal, in contrast to their detractors who know what they believe and go looking for evidence to support it.

  • bsimon

    Yes and no.

    I am skeptical when the ‘science’ comes from organizations with a vested interest in the outcome. For instance, when a company that wants to boost milk production in cows claims that amping up the animals with levels of hormones and antibiotics never found in nature is harmless, I am skeptical. This kind of ‘science’ is comparable to the kind sponsored by tobacco companies proving that cigarettes aren’t harmful.

    When the science comes from organizations that don’t have a vested interest in the outcome, and that follow normal standards for peer review, making methods & data public, etc., I am less skeptical of the outcomes. So after 200 years of scientific scrutiny, I accept the theories of natural selection & evolution as valid. LIkewise for anthropogenic global warming: the evidence that man causes global climate change by burning fossil fuels is overwhelming. The critics are apparently motivated by politics, economics and/or religious belief, none of which are effective rebuttals of science.

  • Mindy Nordan

    Yes… Evolution perpetuated over the years by Java man, Nebraska man, Piltdown man, Kettlewell and the peppered moths, Archaeoraptor, ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, etc.

    Human activity may contribute to global temperature changes, but I believe the effect of human activity on these changes is far less than some scientists and the much of the media propagate.

    The use of natural healing methods, alternative medicines, vitamins, naturopathic medicine and dietary adjustments to correct ailments. In other parts of the world far more herbs and vitamins or derivatives of such are used for illness. The type of medical advice recommended by Dr. Ron Hoffman is often scoffed at by USA doctors and, regrettably, I don’t hear MPR hosting someone who has a medical degree that, also, is a strong proponent of more natural, less invasive means of healing.

  • stuart klipper

    The understanding of what science is and does — and how it works — is abysmally misunderstood in a general population that has been miserably educated on the subject and is more given over to magic thinking. This is a cultural issue of monumental significance because our entire civilization is built on the foundation of science.

    Science never makes final assertions, it only find the most firm positions of knowledge to best next pose further questions.

    Nothing will ever be fully know, but in the matter of the current status of global warming the position we are standing on is rock solid firm.

    The ‘denier’ mentality is akin thinking of those who feel the need to reject historical event. Like that Greek king, you can stand at the sea’s edge and command the tide to stop, and then be drowned — at this point in time that fable will eventually prove to be all too true.

  • Peter Schuman

    Science assumes fallible researchers; political and religious critics assume their doctrines are infallible, or at least must be maintained whether they be correct or not. Fuss over East Anglia e-mails is news media indulging in tabloid feeding frenzy; even public radio gives little honest perspective rather than “they said this, the others said that, we have no opinion.” Reporting as though minuscule minority were a large dissenting group precluding scientific agreement is flatly irresponsible.

  • Jonathan Thomas

    Science is incomplete and will always be incomplete. But it has provided the world witha vast amount of information and innovation, so it does work. As others have said in the previous answers, it’s not perfect, but it is rigorous, much more so than politics and public opinion. Just because we non-scientists think of something we think to be true it doesn’t make it valid (i.e. creation science) until it to is replicated by a multitude of scientists. The beauty of science is that a hypothesis can only be proven wrong and therefore there is always the possibility that even well established theories may someday become obsolete. Scientists do not hate when one of their theories are proven wrong, because that tells them to look in another direction and may point them to the correct theory. Science isn’t religion, it’s a way of making our lives better, not a creed.

  • Colin Thomsen

    What I think is “wrong” and “untrustworthy” is the tendency of news organizations that should know better to use block-headed questions like this one to solicit inflamed – and uninformed – user feedback.

    In that spirit let me say that healthcare reform and 9/11 were made-up by Elvis Presley and the dinosaurs, who coexisted with humans 2000 years ago and never went extinct. Why? Because I think so, that’s why!

  • Jessica Sundheim

    It took me a long time to learn that all of the advice and child psychology loaded into parenting magazines is not only untrustworthy and wrong, but some of it is harmful. No parenting theory can account for differences in personalities, lifestyles, income and underlying support. A lot of it sets up unrealistic expectations, which harm the parent/child relationship. Many of the theories are set up to make a person believe that his child will be permenantly damaged if one fails. There is so much pressure put on parents and children and family relationships it is no wonder parents are less happy after having children, and more are opting out. So many of the messages are, “You’re doing it wrong, but you can do it perfectly!” or “If you are not a perfect parent for the first five years, you are going to produce the next serial killer.”

    I have tons of friends and great relationships with co-workers and I’ve never read a “What to Expect When You’re a Friend” book, or “Dare to Co-work”. I’ve never had someone criticeze my friendship capabilities and then give me a book they are convinced will make me perfect. Why are we so judgmental in regards to the caretaker/child relationship?

    I am a mom of four and my relationship with each child is completely different, just as all of my relationships differ. Yet, the “scientific” and “religious” communities would love to pare down our interactions to perfectable problems and provide me the answer. As Niebuhr wrote in “The Irony of American History”, “The liberal [Western/non-communist] world has always oscillated between the hope of creating perfect men by eliminating the social sources of evil and the hope of so purifying human “reason” by educational techniques that all social institutions would gradually become the bearers of a universal human will, informed by a universal human mind.” If Jesus Christ and the God of Israel, the Five Pillars of Islam and meditation, Cunfucianism and Bhuddism have not even scratched the surface of perfecting man after thousands of years, how is it that James Dobson and “Parenting” magazine have come to “the answers”?

    If a person can respect and love a child as they respect and love their friends, family and co-workers, then one would do well because kids are ten times more challenging. If one can teach someone how to do something and remember that that person has the mental capacity of a three-year-old, and if one can give a person room and patience to learn it, then one would do well as a parent. As long as you don’t give up on yourself for the other person and can remain active in social circles and have a life (just like you do with all your other relationships), one would do well as a parent. Those are the things a person can control, but I can’t succeed at perfecting my kid any more than I can perfect my boss. I can’t spend every single moment with or holding this person, or like any relationship I’d grow to resent the relationship and so would the other person. The Messianic mania that we have placed on child rearing is a result of misplaced pride and an overestimation of human knowledge and ability. It is fear mongering at it’s worst.

  • Samantha Norman

    I think that science supporting the progress of alternative energy are not widely know within the public. We hear a lot about sustainable sources, such as wind, solar and even new frontiers such as algae as biodiesel. However, when the public doesn’t see advancement in these areas, it is because a wide-scale system is too expensive, or unreliable. Not supporting these new forms of energy and allotting money for them, is irresponsible considering science supports them and we should expect nothing less then seeing these systems set up to reduce fossil fuel emissions. Do we really want to continue with importing over 60% of our oil? It is understood that a slow transition is necessary, but is the government even trying?

  • Chad

    The efficacy of psychotropic medications. The research on these drugs is biased by Big Pharma’s pocket book.

  • Paul Kinzer

    I am in agreement with most of the other posters who have responded so far. I want to add my voice to make their ideas seem even more ‘true’. This is silly, since truth is not dependent on the number of people who believe something to be true; yet this also seems to be how things have come to be decided.

    Scientists have to make repeated claims about ‘overwhelming evidence’ in order to be heard above the screaming denialists. No matter how much evidence they have, they will not convince people who do not want to be convinced, but they have to keep repeating themselves and getting into the emotional fray because of the way public opinion — and therefore politics and policy — is now covered by the media. The denialists get equal time, just because of how loud they scream. The veracity of their ideas doesn’t matter one bit.

    People are dying because of the anti-vaccination denialists. These people are so demonstrably wrong, yet they are treated with respect and acceptance by many media outlets. Just giving them airtime gets them converts. But treating their — repeatedly proven — false ideas as though they are possibly correct as scientific research is terrible.

    The same things could be said about creationists and global warming denialists; and also about moon hoax believers, the 2012 phenomenon, and plenty of other way-out notions.

    Again and again, scientific debates with ‘true believers’ (people who will not change their beliefs no matter what evidence is presented) are presented as ‘objective’, and the person doing the media coverage does not express any judgment of the ideas presented. Both sides in these debates are treated as though they are expressing personal opinion, and that is not what science is about at all.

    Science finds actual evidence from the real world. It changes with time because new evidence is found. This does not mean that the ‘old’ science was somehow flawed; it was just the best available at the time. Denialists have a set of beliefs based on received wisdom, whether from the Bible; or from a book written in a seemingly-scholarly way (‘Chariots of the Gods’ is still one of the top-selling ‘astronomy’ books at Amazon, even though it’s been shown to be bunk for decades); or from a celebrity. They spend much of their time tearing others’ ideas down, (“Here is the Truth THEY don’t want you to know about”) but their own are usually based on little or nothing that can actually be tested or proven.

  • kennedy

    I am currently not trusting of news reports on science or psuedo-science. Fact checking tends to lax or non-existent. The press is generally failing in it’s job to provide accurate information. Pandering has taken the place of reporting.

  • Jake

    The science behind diagnosing ADHD and ADD is, to me, largely suspect. There is little solid physiological data available and yet the “disease” is still largely diagnosed based on pharmaceutical conformation. I would like to see harder scientific data before we begin prescribing amphetamines to children and adults.

  • James

    Gun control.

    Current Political / “science” is to restrict law biding citizens from protecting themselves with a firearm.

    While statics (From the FBI) show that a robber or rapist is much less likely to repeat the crime if shot and killed by a armed victim.

    I believe we should tax citizens that DON’T have a working firearm to protect their home and a tax credit for citizens that have a permit to carry a sidearm.

    An armed society is a polite society.

  • Lisa

    I shake my head at those who deny climate change, villianize vaccines, and dismiss evolution.

    I agree with some others here about being mistrustful of claims about medications. I also believe we are over-labeling and over-diagnosing children to their detriment.

    My contribution to this topic is about what we eat. There are always nutritional “it” substances that we all must have and that our food products claim in big bright lettering. They change over time. I see these movements as fads and tend to ignore them. On the flip side, the things that are truly bad for us go unannounced so as to not interfere with profitability.

  • Dan Koper

    My concern is that the questions like this often invite less than thoughtful responses, present company accepted of course, as Public Radio listeners tend to be open to healthy discussion while holding strong opinions. Often these types of questions then becomes news items in and of themselves with no news value, or they are used to fan the flames of issues which have less than useful or serious news value.

    Well constructed surveys showing patterns of belief about given issues of the day are worth noting for the information they give us regarding why people hold various positions, or what those positions tell us about the disposition of the public to move in certain well thought out policy directions.

    This question begs the greater issue of the disservice done to children whose parents hold viewpoints based on pseudoscience or religious precepts. These unyielding positions deny children the right to understand fully the underlying principles of research that apply, not only to science, but to our everyday endeavors.

    In addition, I would find it very difficult to trust research of any kind produced by someone with these kinds of pseudoscience or religious filters. It is one thing to acknowledge research and implement policy based on moral, ethical, or even religious beliefs, but quite another to manipulate that research to produce results that support a particular point of view. As one comment noted, beware of research reported by an organization supported by or with a vested interest in what is being researched.

  • marcela kostihova

    I actually think that these current tensions have little to do with science, even though they wrap themselves in that rhetoric.

    It seems that (mainly western, developed) humanity stands on the brink of an enormous collective decision: taking responsibility for the fact that, for the last couple of centuries, we have been completely wrong in ruthlessly pursuing our own profit in the name of progress without paying attention to the impact this will have on the world around us. In a way, it is not hard to see where these strong denials are coming from: it is extremely hard to realize and admit, mid-stride, that the central premise of our actions has been wrong-headed and harmful, that our children will have a harder life than we have had (not easier), and that our bequest to them is an existential challenge, if not an environmental disaster, famine, and subsequent war. In the same way in which many parents turn a blind eye to abuse inflicted on their children, because of their inability to take in their own complicity in destroying that about which they care the most, we have collectively not have had the heart to confront the outcome of our own actions. Not to mention that stemming the tide would take substantial change in values and behaviors that would interfere with the comfort of many an individual existence.

    I also imagine that those who fervently believe in god, particularly those who trust in his watchful eye over our actions, might have trouble accepting that either: a. we’ve completely screwed up what has been given us so generously and thus face serious consequences “later,” or, b. that god would not be interfering in the current state of affairs if something was truly wrong.

    In any case, willful ignorance will not get us too far.

  • Bill

    I am skeptical of two things: `

    1) What are the actual ill-effects of using marijuana?

    2) What are the actual, relative survival rates of cancer victims in different countries?

    Both of these issues seem to have scientists all over the map, depending on the ulterior motives of the sponsors of the studies.

  • jim

    I do not believe in the theory of gravity. it is only a theory that science has not been able to explain in hundreds of years. I believe that a divine gravity giver has placed invisible velcro all over the world that keeps us down. If we have faith and believe we do not need to have proof or evidence of the invisible velcro. and science is evil and should not keep looking to take our faith away by looking for the evidence of gravity.

  • Dan

    the fact that alternitive power sources are expensive and un profitable. nuclear power is very safe, there’s very little danger of radiation, the real danfer is the spent fuel, as it’s highly caustic. photovoltaic cells are becoming cheaper, and producing more power.

    also the fact that political figures make choices about scientific issues, without actually talking to, or listening to the people who actually know, and chosing the ‘best’ political solution, not the best scientific solution.

  • Lynae Anderson


    Opinion does not discount sound scientific methods. Opinions muddy the waters and make no difference unless tested under peer review. Wasted journalism here. Disappointing. Wiki-journalism?

  • GregS

    Science cannot be trusted when scientists cannot be trusted. There is no better example of this than the hype over global warming.

    There has never been a scientific link between climate and floods, fires, tornadoes or hurricanes yet the press trumpets such a link every time the weather turns sour and the people who should know better, climate scientists remain silent.

    It is a silence that destroys trust.

    But then come revelations like the East Anglia emails, where the top IPCC climate scientists destroyed data, violated FOI requests and corrupted the peer-review process.

    When science blinds itself to the hype and corruption… it is no longer science, or worthy of trust.

  • Ken Beck

    Several comments have pointed out that science is by nature imperfect. It is a process of making observation, formulating theory to explain the body of observations, collecting more data to test the theory and then either refining the theory or formulating a new one. So science is not static, and many critics of the conclusions of science do not understand that. Clearly, humans not only have the power to perform such inquiries, but seem driven to do so. So it is always a puzzle to me why religious authorities are so skeptical of scientific findings. It their Creator is so powerful and all-knowing, did we end up with such powers just to frustrate us?

    What truly shocks and embarrasses me is to see public servants make statements contradictory to accepted scientific evidence that clearly indicates they have no understanding of the concepts themselves. A recent example was an address that Michele Bachman made to the US House of representatives (video on youtube) where she stated over and over that CO2 is a harmless gas, part of every day biology and poses no threat to the environment. Some of these assertions are clearly true, but they grossly miss the point. My question is, does she have any science advisors? Is this good public policy?

  • GregS

    “What truly shocks and embarrasses me is to see public servants make statements contradictory to accepted scientific evidence that clearly indicates they have no understanding of the concepts themselves. A recent example was an address that Michele Bachman made to the US House of representatives (video on youtube) where she stated over and over that CO2 is a harmless gas, part of every day biology and poses no threat to the environment.

    Yes, Ms. Bachman has made outlandish political statements, but then so has the much-muzzled-as-of-late Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.

    For the first six months of the Obama Administration, Chu jumped on every hysterical climate model press-release and trumpeting the most bizarre predictions.

    The man is simply a dolt outside his narrow area of expertise that is why he has been silenced, but do we hear that from the press?

    What do we get instead? Michelle Bachman.

    Why not demand that scientists act like scientists instead?

  • Gerald L. Myking

    Scientic data if sound should not have to be promoted. Science more than ever is influenced by Egotism, Greed, and Opinion. As a former Lab Technition there was always pressure to find results that were favorable to the client who was paying the bills. If that client is the U.S. Government the pressure is at it’s greatest. How often have the standards of forensic science been violated to prove a case? When huge Government grants are given to Universities is there any bias in the results? Will contractors over-look problems with rocket O-rings to keep a lucrative contract? Why are the name’s of Callifano, and Koop famous? I believe in Science, I just don’t believe in Scientists.

  • Patrick

    Which group have you more trust….science ?…or politics/religion?

    The world has suffered a huge stagnation(Dark Ages) ever since early science was either ignored or persecuted. The Ionians had it right. But most humans seek expediancy rather than truth. The consequences surround us.