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

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

The inside of the Campbell River Community Centre gymnasium has been marked off in order to facilitate the public flowing through the clinic as they receive their COVID-19 vaccination. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell river Mirror
Leftover vaccines go into arms, not down the drain: Island Health

No unused COVID-19 vaccines are going to waste at the end of… Continue reading

Where urban and natural landscapes meet can be a very interesting place. The Museum at Campbell River and Greenways Land Trust are hosting a talk on Earth Day on that topic. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Where urban and natural meet

Earth Day talk looks at urban biodiversity

Ryan Rasmussen goes on a training run on Quadra Island. Photo supplied.
Quadra Island man to run 160 km to raise funds for alternative cancer care

‘I feel like I need to be in pain to raise the money… I can’t do something that’s easy’ — Ryan Rasmussen

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards South Island film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Most Read