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

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Central zone up to 1,249 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer sits at 257 active COVID-19 cases

Kelowna RCMP Stock Image.
Bentley post office damaged, armed robbery at Subway

Sylvan Lake RCMP respond to incidents in Bentley last month

James Taylor of Rimbey has won $100,000 from a scratch ticket. (Photo submitted)
Rimbey winner scratches his way to $100,000 prize

James Taylor says store staff were almost more excited than he was

A central Alberta woman is collecting Christmas gift donations for roughly 85 residents at Valleyview Manor in Rimbey. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)
Rimbey woman gathering Christmas gifts for seniors at Valleyview Manor

Margaret Tanasiuk says she doesn’t want anyone to feel forgotten on Christmas morning

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Team Manitoba celebrate after defeating Team Ontario to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Curling Canada wants Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season’s top events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

Curling Canada has provisional approval for Calgary’s hub-city concept from Alberta Health

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

A scene from last year’s Light the Night fundraiser at the Stettler Town and Country Museum. This year’s rendition is on a drive-through basis only, but it still promises to be a not-to-be-missed seasonal highlight. (Independent file photo)
Stettler Town and Country Museum hosts ‘Light the Night’

This year’s rendition is drive-through only, but will still prove to be a dazzling display

Paramedics register patients at a drive through, pop-up COVID-19 test centre outside the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, in Ottawa, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians aren’t currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canadians not worried other countries will get COVID-19 vaccine first: poll

Forty-one per cent of respondents say they want the vaccine to be mandatory for all Canadians

Most Read