[ASC-list] Fwd: Re: do Australians trust scientists?

Derek Elmes Derek.Elmes at environment.nsw.gov.au
Mon Jun 14 22:36:03 UTC 2010

Any interesting development. Will it take us down a "who do we trust about who do we trust" thread?  Is it perceptions relating to the group who undertakes or pays for a survey (e.g. Readers Digest) or the results (e.g. Ben Cousins), or both, that are the drivers of trust?


Derek Elmes

-----Original Message-----
From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Charles Willock
Sent: Monday, 14 June 2010 6:52 AM
To: longneck at cyllene.uwa.edu.au
Cc: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au; Stephan Lewandowsky; Charles Willock
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Fwd: Re: do Australians trust scientists?

Sorry, are we serious about accepting the Reader's Digest surveys?  

    Australia's Most Trusted People 2009

    98  Ben Cousins, AFL player (*)

    out of 20 million Australians?
Worth noting that (according to that RD page) the list was rated 3/5 on
87 votes so it isn't exactly universally believed either.

C'mon Ppl,

(*) = same as 2008 ...
Ben Cousins charged with drug possession

On Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 04:18:11AM +0800, longneck at cyllene.uwa.edu.au wrote:
> Thank you to all who responded to this question about trust.
> See below for a compilation of excerpts taken from responses which might 
> be of general interest.
> These include links to Readers Digest surveys of professions and people, 
> Swinburne's National Technology and Society Monitor and recent work out 
> of CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship.
> Kind regards, Nancy
> Assoc Prof Nancy Longnecker
> Coordinator, Science Communication Program
> Faculty of Life and Physical Sciences
> The University of Western Australia
> 1) Readers Digest runs a survey on trust each year - for brands,
> individuals and professions.
> The survey isn't too bad by methodology and the data is tracked year by
> year.
> Scientists rate 12 - but doctors and pharmacists might be considered by
> some to be scientists. In the individual trust category - many
> scientists rate very highly.
> http://www.readersdigest.com.au/life/australias-most-trusted-professions
> -2009/article142043.html
> http://www.readersdigest.com.au/life/australias-most-trusted-people-2009
> /article141332.html
> Dr Craig Cormick
> Manager
> Public Awareness and Community Engagement
> National Enabling Technologies Strategy
> 2) The closest thing I've seen is Reader's Digest's annual "Australia's
> 100 most trusted individuals" list. I don't know how rigorous they are
> - probably not very - but do appear there, though prominent medical
> professionals often do very well: in 2009 Dr Fiona Wood made the
> number one spot, with Professor Ian Frazer in third. Dr Karl - a
> fixture in the list for many years - came in at number 11.
> The 2009 list can be found here:
> http://www.readersdigest.com.au/life/australias-most-trusted-people-2009/article141332.html
> 3) A 2008 Australian Reader's Digest poll shows the trend:
> http://www.readersdigest.com.au/popular/australias-most-trusted-professions-
> 2008-readers-digest-australia/article77699.html
> Some quick links to international polls include:
> http://businesstrends.wordpress.com/2009/08/04/most-prestigious-occupations-
> in-america/
> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-04/27/content_9777169.htm
> However, I also believe that another question should be asked about the
> scientific profession itself - which type of scientists from what industries
> are trusted more than others. I think it's not correct to lump all
> scientists together. I work in healthcare and I know that pharmaceutical
> companies have a bad reputation as being fairly untrustworthy.
> Consequentially (and probably unfairly), scientists and healthcare
> professionals from pharma companies seem to have attached to them the bad
> stigma of the industry. I'm not sure how a survey about the science
> profession would work exactly, but it is an interesting question.
> 4) Hi Nancy
> Apologies for the late reply. You might be interested in Swinburne's  
> National Technology and Society Monitor. Here's a link to the 2009  
> edition:  
> <http://www.swinburne.edu.au/lss/spru/spru-monitor.html><http://www.swinburne.edu.au/lss/spru/spru-monitor.html> 
> .
> Cheers
> Chris KP
> _______________________________
> Chris Krishna-Pillay
> Victorian Manager, CSIRO Education
> 5) There was a study done in 2009 by Swinburne called the National  
> Technology and Society Monitor. It looked at groups of organisations  
> rather than specific professions, and considered how trustworthy those  
> organisations were in relation to the provision of science and  
> technoloogy information. CSIRO came first, followed by universities,  
> medical doctors, scientists and hospitals, then progressed downwards,  
> ending with major international companies and commercial media..
> 6)  The Who Cares about the environment in 2009? Survey asked residents 
> of NSW (n=2003) the reliability of different information sources 
> including scientists and technical specialists.
> In 2009, 38% of respondents said that scientists and technical  
> specialists were very reliable (which is a decrease from 2003 (n=1421)  
> when 40% of respondents said they were very reliable, although an  
> increase from 1994 when only 19% of respondents said they were very  
> reliable).
> For more about the Who Cares survey (which has run each three years  
> since 1994) and more about these results, see the Department of  
> Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW website at:  
> http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/community/Whocares2009.htm
> 7) ...the "Who Cares about the Environment in 2009?" survey of NSW  
> people's environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviours includes a  
> question relating to perceived reliability of information sources  
> (relating to the environment).
> The results are on pages 56-60 of the full report that can be found at  
> http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/community/Whocares2009.htm.
> A question about sources of environmental information is on Page 77.
> 8) The CSIRO Energy Flagship social sciences group asked in several of  
> large group processes which has a question on trust. See in the links  
> below.
> http://www.csiro.au/resources/Perceptions-of-low-emission-energy-technologies-Perth.html
> Similar studies were done in Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane which are 
> all on the website too.
> ____________________________
> From: <longneck at cyllene.uwa.edu.au>
> Date: Mon, 7 Jun 2010 20:14:43 +1000
> To: <asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au>
> Conversation: [ASC-list] do Australians trust scientists?
> Subject: [ASC-list] do Australians trust scientists?
> Hello all,
> Does anyone know of any (recent) survey data that asks Australians
> whether they trust scientists, esp in comparison to other professional
> groups?
> Kind regards, Nancy
> Assoc Prof Nancy Longnecker
> Coordinator, Science Communication Program
> Faculty of Life and Physical Sciences, M011
> The University of Western Australia
> 35 Stirling Highway
> Crawley, WA   6009
> ph: 61 8 6488 3926
> email: nancy.longnecker at uwa.edu.au
> skype: nancylongnecker
> There is no point explaining everything in the universe if no one is
> listening to you.    (UWA Sci Comm student, 2009)
> CRICOS Provider No. 00126G
> ----- End forwarded message -----
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      "Creativity and innovation are measured not by what is done, 
           but by what could have been done ... but wasn't"

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Charles Willock                                 charlesw at cse.unsw.edu.au
c/- School of Computer Science and Engineering       
University of New South Wales,                  
New South Wales  Australia  2052    http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~charlesw

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