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

Mona Strelaeff, a Metchosin resident, is the first non-terminally ill person in Canada to be allowed to use psilocybin assisted therapy. (Provided by Spencer Hawkswell)
Metchosin woman’s trauma treatment could be trendsetting

Experts say this could signal the broadening of who can access psilocybin therapy

Sidney’s Haunted Bookshop is changing owners with longtime owner Odean Long transferring ownership Dec. 1 to William Matthews. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Longtime owner of Sidney’s Haunted Bookshop closes chapter with sale

Odean Long and her late husband moved the business to Sidney in 1996

Goldstream Food Bank volunteers at work. Light Up the City will be offering various options for the public to drop off non-perishable food items to support this food bank and others in Greater Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria residents can show their charity through Light Up the City

Drive-thru food bank and toy donation dropoff sites open up this Saturday around region

Police will be out in force to target drunk drivers this weekend as part of ICBC’s annual CounterAttack campaign. (Contributed - ICBC)
Police launch Christmas CounterAttack this weekend

On average, 11 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving on the Island every year

Victoria police arrested a man in a Yates Street grocery store Nov. 27 after he refused to wear a mask. (Black Press Media File photo)
Belligerent man arrested in Victoria grocery store after refusing to wear mask

Officers fined the man $230 under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Most Read