Can open and honest scientists win public trust?


EAST LANSING, Mich. — With the increased politicization of science, more and more people continue to be skeptical of research, especially when it comes to hot-button topics such as climate change and vaccines.

Michigan State University researchers wondered whether it would be better for scientists to acknowledge some of their personal or social values up front when reporting on their studies in order to gain trust. Turns out, not so much in certain situations.

Their findings, now published in PLOS ONE, suggest there is less benefit for scientists to be transparent in their views. In fact, by being up front, such transparency could make people trust the research even less.

“It would seem like being more forthcoming would be a very responsible thing for scientists to do,” said Kevin Elliott, lead author of the study, who specializes in the ethics of science at MSU.

“But our research suggests that in many cases, fully disclosing personal beliefs actually decreases people’s trust depending on the circumstances.”

The study used two different scenarios focused on the controversial additive Bisphenol A, or BPA, which is often found in plastic water bottles. Each introduced a fictional scientist who presented various scientific conclusions about whether the substance was harmful or if it should be regulated. In both test cases, there were situations where the scientist made a statement about something he deemed important in society before presenting a conclusion and other instances where this kind of expressed value was left out.

Elliott and his research team found that in both experiments – each surveying close to 500 people – when the scientist disclosed a value, survey respondents tended not to trust him as much. Results were based on a scale from one to seven ranging from “completely distrust” to “completely trust.” In fact, many participant scores dropped a full point when it came to trust level.

“However, this didn’t happen across the board,” Elliott said. “People didn’t mind so much when the scientist made claims about regulating BPA versus when a claim was made about BPA being harmful or not.”

Results also showed that participants were less likely to distrust a scientist if a conclusion was drawn that seemed to be opposite of an expressed value. For example, if the scientist said public health should be a top priority, but concluded that BPA was not harmful, people’s trust was less likely to decrease.

Elliott said that even though his study indicates that being transparent doesn’t always garner trust, scientists should still be open about their values and continue to manage them more responsibly especially when presenting controversial science.

“We all know that scientists aren’t automatons who go about their work with no personal, social or ideological perspectives,” Elliott said. “We wouldn’t want scientists to be like that. Scientists need to find ways to handle their values appropriately so that they don’t destroy objectivity or harm public trust in their work.”

As for the public, he said that rather than dismissing scientists who discuss their values and deeming them untrustworthy, encouraging them to have open, thoughtful discussions about how values influence research could be a good start to promoting socially responsible science.

“Whether it’s science, media or politicians, we’re all concerned about the role values play in reporting findings and the facts,” Elliott said. “Trying to figure out how to handle it all responsibly is the hurdle and this study could help with that broader effort.”


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Tom Halla
October 25, 2017 10:15 pm

One can only judge a scientist by their track record on the subject they are supposedly an expert in. General statements, like those used in the study, are basically irrelevant.
If I had a medical doctor who persisted in the model that ulcers are caused by stress and diet, not an uncontrolled H. pylori infection, I would doubt any other medical opinions he stated.

Tom13 - the non climate scientist
Reply to  Tom Halla
October 26, 2017 9:48 am

Tom –
“If I had a medical doctor who persisted in the model that ulcers are caused by stress and diet, not an uncontrolled H. pylori infection, I would doubt any other medical opinions he stated.”

A good example is Mann’s study from 2015/2016 where his study concluded that the 18+ year pause was not predictible because the AMO/PDO were totally unpredictible – even though the cycles have prominently shown up in the temp records 3 times since the mid 1850’s

Reply to  Tom Halla
October 26, 2017 8:34 pm

I agree totally.

Another pertinent example is Dr Roy Spencer and is belief in creationism.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Bruce
October 26, 2017 9:09 pm

Rather overstating his beliefs, with Spencer it is more intelligent Design, which is not relevant to climate. You are lumping Young Earth Creationists with a fair number of religious people. The current position of the Catholic Church is that at some unspecified point, people acquired souls. This sort of belief is as untestable, and harmless, as a Hindu/Buddhist belief in reincarnation.

Reply to  Bruce
October 26, 2017 9:22 pm

Roy is a creationist, since ID is creationism, but I don’t think he’s a Young Earth Creationist. IMO, although I could be wrong, Roy doesn’t think that Earth is only thousands of years old.

Reply to  Bruce
October 26, 2017 9:28 pm

Bruce, I don’t get the connection. How does Dr. Spencer’s belief in a Creator invalidate any of his observations and analyses of the creation?

Reply to  Bruce
October 27, 2017 8:31 am

Regarding ID and Spencer,

There was a gentleman who got up and gave a beautiful speech about “Don’t Be A Dick” at a skeptic conference awhile ago. That same person then used the fact that Spencer supports Intelligent Design as a the beating stick to prove that Spencer shouldn’t be listened to.

I can disagree with Spencer on his intelligent design beliefs and still agree with him on his analysis of temperatures. I can accept that the earth and the universe popped into existence 1000 years ago. I can even find a reference frame where it popped into existence when I started thinking. I do not start from that basis though. I start from Pascal and “I don’t need to postulate a god!” Infinity is a wicked thing.

Two 1X2 Legos can be put together how many different ways? The answer is a lot closer to “infinity” than it is to 3.

Infinity provides a lot of wiggle room for folks.

Reply to  Tom Halla
October 27, 2017 4:52 pm

Additionally, it seems that the writer is confused about the definitions of the words ‘values’ and ‘opinions’.

Larry D
October 25, 2017 10:15 pm

“Confession against interest” is more credible than an “assertion aligned with interest”. But really, did these people miss “Scientific Method 101”. Replication, by diverse, independent researchers, is what builds credibility.

Reply to  Larry D
October 26, 2017 7:55 am

Problem is that the public, certainly the news media, doesn’t have a clue about Scientific Method. Now we have a cadre of so called scientists that either don’t have a clue or flatly don’t care about Scientific Method. Relative to social and political views of the CAGW “scientists” I doubt there many that are not on the political left. I will bet those at university are political on the far left. The political left staunchly believe that a person must fully accept and preach the orthodoxy to be considered worthy.

David Cage
October 25, 2017 10:20 pm

Scientist need to be externally evaluated the moment their work has a commercial application. Without that the deserve and will get no trust. Also they need to accept that when it comes to practical training they are often less able than the local plumber so they need proper evaluation of that side of their work by trained people. Scientist’s data acquisition skills are near zero and are a disgrace by even the lowest engineering standards.

Reply to  David Cage
October 26, 2017 5:52 am

when somebody is banging on about trust and never mentions truth, that’s significant.

October 25, 2017 10:53 pm

Katherine Hayhoe uses this extensively. People think because she a self-professed evangelical Christian she should be skeptical of CC claims. But she’s all in on the hustle.
The reality is she is a Temple pharisee. A Judas.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
October 26, 2017 2:50 am

Her assaults upon skeptics in my Op make her a serial 9th-Commandment breaker: ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness.’

George Daddis
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
October 26, 2017 7:06 am

Dr Muller did a similar feint by dissing Mann and Jones and then subsequently claiming to have been “converted” away from the Dark Side by his own study.

Peter Lewis Hannan
October 25, 2017 11:09 pm

Wait, wait! Sir Karl Popper, sir, please help. Scientists should expect scepticism and critical review and attempts at refutation of their work, not trust. Statements of personal values and commitments might or might not help: “I’m committed to discovering the truth, wherever it leads – do you believe me?” J.B.S. Haldane was a Marxist: if he had prefaced his work in biology with a statement of that position, would / should it have affected the critical evaluation of his work on, say, the origin of life? Of course not.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Peter Lewis Hannan
October 26, 2017 8:01 am

It used to be that the desired standard was that of the “disinterested observer.” That is, someone who has no vested ideological or financial interest in the outcome. Chamberlain made a strong case for a practice of “Multiple Working Hypotheses” to avoid getting emotionally attached to one’s ‘baby’ or ‘pet theory,’ sort of the corollary of the “Not Invented Here” syndrome. While journals still often require a disclosure of financial conflicts of interest, one usually can only tell about ideological conflicts of interest from the choice of words in a report. The post-WWII ‘Big Science’ has been corrupted by federal funding and the requirement to have research be socially relevant, instead of pursuing knowledge for its own sake.

October 25, 2017 11:17 pm

Scientific credibility is based on one’s predictive track record.

The following points are true:

1. The global warming alarmists have been wrong about every one of their very-scary predictions of catastrophic global warming, wilder weather, etc, etc.

2. The warmists have attempted to alter the temperature data record to align more closely with their failed predictions. Seecomment image

Nobody should believe anything they say or write.

October 25, 2017 11:21 pm

What is “socially responsible science”? How is it defined? Why haven’t its inventors declared their personal or social values up front? Oh wait…

October 25, 2017 11:25 pm
Reply to  jaakkokateenkorva
October 26, 2017 2:27 am

I dont see a red team or blog comments anywhere in your cartoon

Reply to  Steven Mosher
October 26, 2017 4:38 am

Well seen Steven. I’ve experienced similar issue with phlogiston.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
October 26, 2017 6:46 am

Sheesh Steve, are you under the impression that you still have a reputation worth destroying?
Quite obviously red team and feedback of any type would be in the “Refine, Alter, Expand or Reject” hypothesis stage.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Steven Mosher
October 26, 2017 8:13 am

Red Team and blog criticism is implicit in the balloon in the very CENTER of the diagram! Although, I have observed blog commenters making contributions at every step of the diagram. The essence of the Scientific Method is to question everything and not be complacent with pronouncements from authority, or from those who behave as though they think they are smarter than everyone else. Your sarcasm is contributing little to advancing the understanding of the problem.

Ben of Houston
Reply to  Steven Mosher
October 26, 2017 9:22 am

The cycle graphic is missing the entire review and publication process, which is extremely important for science. It should be inserted between gather data and new hypothesis. The “ask everyone if they think I’m an idiot” step. This includes everything from formal peer review to asking your critics what they think, and yes, listening to them.

Rick C PE
Reply to  Steven Mosher
October 26, 2017 9:31 am

SM: No need – nearly every significant peer reviewed paper spawns critical rebuttal papers (assuming no organized effort to suppress them). What is missing includes “surveys to establish consensus”, “create speculative scenarios on impact if hypothesis is true”, “become social activist and advocate for economic and/or social changes”, “issue press releases that promote your thesis and ignore uncertainty and contrary evidence”, “attack the credibility of anyone who disagrees with you”. These seem to be standard parts of the the scientific method only in areas of science where big government regulation is the intended result.

Bryan A
Reply to  Steven Mosher
October 26, 2017 3:03 pm

And that last part, “attack the credibility of anyone who disagrees with you” is especially important, just ask any Scientology Cultist

brad tittle
Reply to  jaakkokateenkorva
October 26, 2017 8:15 am

We are always trying to reject the hypothesis. We are still trying to reject the three laws of thermo. Every morning we get up and try to prove every hypothesis, every theory and every law wrong.

Reply to  brad tittle
October 26, 2017 9:15 am

We are still trying to reject the three laws of thermo.

Well, it’s four laws, but let’s not quibble about minor details.

. . . to prove every hypothesis, every theory and every law wrong.

Except AGW, which we’ve been told is proven science. Nothing else has been proven in science EXCEPT AGW. Even Thermodynamics, probably the best tested system of laws and theories, is still not proven.

I was always taught that because science has made so many wrong turns in the past, that everything in science is subject to review–question everything–even the basics.

Of course, I tend to trust some things–like Thermodynamics. I don’t trust the science of AGW. They can’t even get their greenhouse gas theory to work correctly.


Reply to  Jim Masterson
October 26, 2017 9:21 am

0, 1, 2, 3… Three laws…

Sorry.. that is c-ish humor. Basic didn’t to that to me. Pascal didn’t either. C made me do it…

Reply to  brad tittle
October 26, 2017 10:10 am

0, 1, 2, 3… Three laws…

Using C or even Java, starting your count from zero gives you four items. The zeroth Law is still a law and counts as one.


Reply to  brad tittle
October 26, 2017 10:19 am

You are correct..

In my original comment, I tap danced with saying 4 laws, but decided against it.

I have to explain to people regularly that 3 means 4, except when it actually means 3. People who should know better.

My second comment was to say you are correct. It also was a joke to point at the never ending tap dance that is communication. My very boring job is to act as a brake and keep people from flying off the edge. Whether that job is here within the confines of WUWT or elsewhere.

John Hardy
October 25, 2017 11:38 pm

jaakkokateenkorva: your “scienctific method” picture is bang on. It ought to be on the wall of every classroom in the land. The test of a hypothesis is it’s predictive ability. It would be good to slightly expand your “gather data…” bubble to include repeatability

John Hardy
Reply to  John Hardy
October 25, 2017 11:41 pm

The word “replication” is in the bubble – but maybe a couple of additional bubbles might be worth putting in to cover it?

Reply to  John Hardy
October 26, 2017 12:30 am

Thank you John. Cannot take the credit for the picture, but your ideas sound good.

Reply to  jaakkokateenkorva
October 26, 2017 6:50 pm

Your graph generally applies to an area where little is known and no favored working science hypotheses exist. However, many, many experimental studies are made in the context of existing working hypotheses, and the scientist is trying to strengthen one of them, generally his/her favorite.
Here the importance of peer review and challenge from one’s peers is important, but has become lacking in climate science. That lack of challenge is enhanced by bias from journals, funding agencies, and government agencies. It becomes difficult for the peer review system to operate under this.

October 26, 2017 12:16 am

“Too many words, Herr Mozart. Too many words.”

Reply to  photios
October 26, 2017 2:52 am

‘Too many notes.’ (sorry)

Ursus Augustus
October 26, 2017 1:08 am

I think that so called ‘science communication’ has become a kind of cancerous infection to proper science. Its a bit like politicians become captive to spindoctors and PR flacks to combat the ‘gotcha’ sniping of the media hounds (in turn driven by their own career ambitions and salary prospects via ‘ratings’). “Science communications’ , i.e. spin and marketing in the interests of the employing institution, pasteurises, homogonises and adds ‘permeate’ to the raw milk of good science to ‘sex it up’ or make it a more marketable product in the media. In doing so it dumbs down and coopts research and researchers to the ambitions of the spin doctors and those that they serve. It is an essential corruption of the proper conduct of scientific research.

Reply to  Ursus Augustus
October 26, 2017 1:30 am

No more the hard sciences are distancing themselves from Climate Science, which looks more like medical and pharmacy science everyday. You know we ran a study in which we concluded that doing xyz causes ……… (insert randomly as needed Cancer, Climate Change, High Cholesterol).

Reply to  LdB
October 26, 2017 10:20 am
Robert from oz
October 26, 2017 1:18 am

In OZ the alarmist scientists are saying they were once skeptical so no there is no honesty to be had here .

Stephen Richards
October 26, 2017 1:21 am

So when a scientist reveals his vested interests we are less likely to trust him.

Reply to  Stephen Richards
October 26, 2017 12:48 pm

Maybe it’s the constant benter from the CAGW crowd that any contact with the “wrong” people means the research should be ignored. Seems they may have shot themselves in the foot on that one.

October 26, 2017 1:49 am

Rather than scientists acknowledging “some [all?] of their personal or social values up front”, how about they start by stating their conflict of interests, that would be far more meaningful.

Reply to  HotScot
October 26, 2017 12:51 pm

The only thing meaningful is the research. Whether or not they were motived to produce certain results doesn’t matter. If the research is proper, fine. If the research is incomplete or tainted, then it is to be ignored until it’s either verified by others or discarded because it could not verified.

October 26, 2017 2:01 am

Trust ? seriously ?
“Science is the belief in the incompetence of experts”.
A scientist who lusts for trust in no longer a scientist. A sceintist thHe should want skepticism, replication that may fail, etc.
I don’t trust Einstein, Newton, Galileo, Carnot, or any so called “scientist” All of them taught great things AND utter bullshit. I trust the sound reasoning that i can see is indeed solid, i trust technicians that build real working stuff out of theories. If the stuff works, well, the theory is ok enough for this application, and it makes sense to use it for other stuff. This not even proof that that the theory is truth, just that it is truth enough.
CAGW theory is utter failure in this respect.
And, BTW, none of them ever pretended to be a “scientist”; science is deed, not a being or a title. You can be sure about one thing: someone that says he is a scientist, is not. He is a con man that don the prestige of science to sell some stuff (may be not bad stuff, but, don’t trust him). A real scientist show you the science, in a way you may understand, not his title.


Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  paqyfelyc
October 26, 2017 4:12 am

paqyfelyc October 26, 2017 at 2:01 am

And, BTW, none of them ever pretended to be a “scientist”; science is deed, not a being or a title. You can be sure about one thing: someone that says he is a scientist, is not. He is a con man that don the prestige of science to sell some stuff (may be not bad stuff, but, don’t trust him). A real scientist show you the science, in a way you may understand, not his title.

Come on now, ….. Paqyfelyc, …… tell us, …… what is it that you are really, really PO’ed about?

“YUP”, you have a serious problem when you first claim that ….. “someone that says he is a scientist, is not”, ……. followed by you yourself saying that someone is a scientist, …. to wit: “A real scientist show you the science”.

Why is it that you can say that a person is a “scientist”, ….. but that person cannot say that he/she is a “scientist”?

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
October 26, 2017 10:16 am

I just told you : i can tell a person is a scientist, when he show me the science. I can tell a person is not a scientist when he says “i am a scientist, trust me”.
What isn’t clear in that ?
Well, in theory the 2 set (people showing the science, and people pretending to be scientist) could overlap; experience shows they in fact don’t.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
October 27, 2017 5:48 am

paqyfelyc October 26, 2017 at 10:16 am

I just told you : i can tell a person is a scientist, when he show me the science. I can tell a person is not a scientist when he says “i am a scientist, trust me”.
What isn’t clear in that ?

Paqyfelyc, what you stated above …… makes it avidly clear to me that you are a purveyor of BS rhetoric.

There are literally dozens of “specialized” fields of endeavor that are associated with the Biological, Natural and/or Physical Sciences ….. and I damn well know for a FACT …… that you are not sufficiently educated in all of those “specialized” fields to determine who is and who isn’t a scientist.

I consider myself a “scientist”, with an AB Degree as certification, …… and I have surely forgotten more about the natural world …… and the Biological and Physical Sciences than you have ever known,

So, I say to you, …… Paqyfelyc, …….. “I, ….. SamC, …. am a scientist”.

And you can ”click this hyperlink” to read published commentary that I am the author of, …. and which is scientifically factual commentary, …. which you can read and “offer” your “expert” critique of its content/context.


Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
October 27, 2017 5:50 am

And ps, Paqyfelyc, ….. the Oxford dictionary defines a “scientist” as:

A person who is studying or has expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences.

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
October 27, 2017 8:07 am

Well, that definition rules out the majority of “scientists” pushing their fake religion of Man Caused Globall Warmining.

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
October 27, 2017 8:41 am

rhetoric, you say … looks to me you are the rhetor, here.

I clicked on you provided link, and arrived at . Funny proof of your being a scientist … Well, i supposed the link expired and you wanted to show me the science 😉

I know nothing of you, short your AB Degree certification claim (that I have no reason to doubt) , so it may be true that “[you] have forgotten more about the natural world …… and the Biological and Physical Sciences than [I] have ever known”. Or not. You know nothing of me, so you shouldn’t make such a claim. Especially with just AB degree. There are strange fellow in the internet, you know, and some (may be including me, who knows?) could be higher level that you never have been or will, even in field you consider yourself expert in.
And, anyway, what the point of boasting this way? If you indeed still know more than me, even after having much forgotten, it will show, won’t it ? so what’s the point ?

There are, indeed, few fields i am sufficiently educated to determine who is and who isn’t a scientist. But, still, the scientist remains the one that show me the science, so i verify if i am knowledgeable enough (or have a friend who is, and will help me), or learn otherwise. Don’t you agree ?

Oxford dictionary do not tell you how you know someone is indeed a scientist by this (perfectly fine) definition. I did.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
October 27, 2017 11:24 am

@ paqyfelyc October 27, 2017 at 8:41 am

I clicked on you provided link, and arrived at . Funny proof of your being a scientist … Well, i supposed the link expired and you wanted to show me the science 😉

YUP, I think you are correct, …… I had posted several of my commentaries to the Newsvine Forums ……. and via a Google search I have just learned, to wit: shutting down October 1, 2017

So, sorry bout that, …… cause it voids my aforenoted “cited” proof of my “scientific credentials”. Maybe I will find another Forum to post that commentary on.

But all is not lost, because here is a “url link” for you to check out ……that is still active, and the one that I am the moistest proud of …… because it is literal proof of one (1) of my “great” career accomplishments, …… to wit:

The design for that Transducer Positioning Mechanism, …… to insure the correct positioning on the data track of the read/write heads of a disk memory storage unit, …. was completed in early 1965 …… and the patent for said was issued in June of 1969.

And the next 25+- years, post 1965, I was party too several revolutionary new designs involving “key-to-tape” data processing terminals, ……. word processors, …… mini-computers …… and point-of sale terminals. As well as the design, coding and implementing/installing of dozens n’ dozens of firmware/software programs for both system functioning and customer/user applications.

To wit, the bio of MDS (Mohawk Data Sciences Corp.) ….. which I was employee #164 to be hired, …..

And paqyfelyc, my older brother George R, was a lot smarter and far more successful than me, cause he had something like 22 patents registered in his name and a few million$ in the bank, also in his name, after selling his MDS “founder’s stock”, ….. to wit, (for your reading curiosity):

And none of the above proves anything to you, ………. RIGHT?

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
October 30, 2017 1:34 am

Oh yes, it proves lots to me. It proves you are proud of your technical accomplishments, which is fine, and admirative and even jealous of your brother, which is fine, too (my brothers are the same toward me). It is evidence you were active in science, some time ago.
It is foremost a proof that you absolutely want me to acknowledge that people who both boast being scientist, and show the science, do exist, as you boast being one of them. Well, paint me skeptical, and anyway the important is not what you say about yourself, it is what you did and can show.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  paqyfelyc
October 26, 2017 8:26 am

paqyfelyc ,
It is my impression that many who present themselves as scientists, by virtue of their education and the nature of their work, are really technicians with advanced degrees. They lack the mindset of someone who is interested in Nature because they still have the inquisitiveness of youth. These technicians behave as though they expect to be bowed down to because of their credentials, not because they have demonstrated an ability to grasp and solve problems. For those who believe the “science is settled,” they are also lacking in the humility to understand that they might be wrong.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
October 26, 2017 10:19 am

If only they were technicians…
Some technicians rightfully got science Nobel for their technical deeds.
Respect technicians, not self-called “scientists”

Reply to  paqyfelyc
October 26, 2017 10:33 am

I will take a proficient technician over a “scientist” any day of the week.

October 26, 2017 2:34 am

To late

Reply to  nottoobrite
October 26, 2017 8:51 am

That reminds me of a song. 🙂

Steve Ta
October 26, 2017 2:43 am

It really worries me to read things that compare “hot-button topics such as climate change and vaccines.”

The damage poor science in the climate change arena is causing could result in mistrust of other areas where the science is pretty solid, and if the anti-vaccers get the upper hand as a result, millions of children could suffer and die unnecessarily.

Reply to  Steve Ta
October 26, 2017 6:33 am

Exactly. Vaccines are a simple and easily testable concept. Each time you vaccinate someone, you test and potentially falsify the hypothesis that this vaccine will protect them but not bring harm to them. Also note that each vaccine must be tested separately; some vaccines have been retracted because they were found to be ineffective or unsafe.

“Climate change”, in comparison, is a complex and vaguely defined hypothesis. While there is some evidence of recent warming, there is none of a major causative role of humans, nor of any harmful consequences of that warming.

Anyone who lumps together issues as disparate as these two is either dumb or a cynic.

Reply to  Michael Palmer
October 26, 2017 8:22 am

Yet getting the data back on the subject is awkward. I love the people at Jenny McCarthy Body Count, but the numbers posted are not scientific. They do not split the vaccinated and unvaccinated apart. (to be fair, the CDC doesn’t do it either).

How many people who were vaccinated still contracted the illness?
How many people who were not vaccinated contracted the illness?
How many people who were vaccinated died from complications of the illness?
How many people who were not vaccinated died from complications of the illness?

If you start asking these questions though, you start running into people who say “I hate it when people use lawyer speak!”

Each of those questions begs for more questions.

What complications are not tied to the illness?
What complications are tied?
What complications don’t fit into either category? (It is easy to assume that the first two buckets are either/or, but experience makes me ask this question, because there is always a third bucket… “Can’t Tell” )

Reply to  Michael Palmer
October 26, 2017 9:36 am

Dida, there have been reams of data answering each of those questions for every mandatory vaccine. It’s not straightforward because each of those questions has a dozen different sub-questions to answer accurately. On the other hand, basic summary data suffices for most questions. “Does the MMR vaccine cause autism?” “We have no reason to believe it does and several reasons to think it does not”.

And yes, the CDC can easily find give the speciation between vaccinated and non-vaccinated cases for every infectious disease because they get that information straight-off (and given EMRs, it’s really easy to trend those sorts of things, one of the few benefits of the blasted things). The only real exception is flu, since many people do not go to the doctor for it.

Again, don’t try and compare the two issues. They are as similar as Apples and Orangutans

Reply to  Michael Palmer
October 26, 2017 9:50 am


Pull the data for the CDC. Is the data I describe in the summary? Should I expect the proprietor of JMBC to post it, if it isn’t readily available.

I vaccinate without hesitation. I will tell anyone who questions it to vaccinate.

At the same time, the numbers on some of the vaccinations out there are not so straight forward. There are straight forward answers… When you have a child, get revaccinated for pertussis. Simple straight forward answer. Attacking the idiots who don’t get their kids vaccinated. Bad answer.

I am attempting to point at the proof/fail to disprove challenge.

Reply to  Michael Palmer
October 26, 2017 11:11 am

Didaskeptic, valid questions. The data should be on the table.

As I’m sure know, smallpox vaccination had a very substantial rate of complications (encephalitis), and once the risk of natural infection was gone, it was the right thing to abolish it; some countries hesitated too long to do so. The Sabin polio vaccine is more convenient and longer lasting than the Salk vaccine, but less safe, so the reversal from Sabin to Salk was justified. BCG (tuberculosis) vaccine always had limited effectiveness and some potential for complications. It was generally recommended and very widely used – at least in my home country (Germany); I don’t know how widely in the U.S. – but revoking the recommendation was reasonable when the natural infection had become rare.

I don’t mean to say there is no room for disagreement about individual vaccinations, but overall there seems to be rational decision making.

Reply to  Michael Palmer
October 26, 2017 5:43 pm

Vaccines rate right in with some of the greatest health achievements of mankind. Agriculture, separating domestic waste water from drinking water, are a couple of others. I can lecture on vaccines but will not here. Everyone should take the time to understand vaccines. The news media and our government have done a very poor job of explaining vaccines, how they work both at the individual level and at the population level. They have done a poor job explaining why thiomersal is used as a preservative at all. They have done a poor job explaining that the UK doctor that took advantage of the parents with autistic children was a fraud, made up data, etc, etc. Children have died because of the anti-vaccers. People throughout the world still die today from diseases, preventable by vaccination, the average doctor in the west cannot even diagnose properly. Whooping cough and measles are back in the USA. Typhoid fever is still in the wild, especially in SW Asia. Go to South America and you will still see kids that have survived tetanus. CDC became too politically correct during the past administration and allowed the anti-vaccers to get a very, very dangerous foothold in Western society.

October 26, 2017 3:34 am

Sen Susan Collins really wants to lose her re-election bid. She’s always been a democrat….

Reply to  john
October 26, 2017 8:57 am

Susan Collins is on the wrong side of several issues.

I wonder what she points to as convincing her that CAGW is real. The Hockey Stick chart lie? The 97 percent lie? What else is there to hang your hat on?

Schrodinger's Cat
October 26, 2017 5:13 am

Sadly, science is no longer the objective search for truth. It seems increasingly to be bound up with money, career, politics, group think and a host of other influences. Just consider what we are told about food science to recognise that vested interest groups dominate the subject.

Most people here have some scientific interest or qualifications and are probably very capable of judging whether a scientific claim is credible or not. We asses technical feasibility, motivation, track record, and other criteria often unconsciously. It is very unfortunate that most politicians seem to lack the most basic skills in this regard.

Climate science seems to have pioneered new territories. We read about intimidation, people in fear of losing their jobs and scientists who dare not speak out about their work. This implies that there is something very rotten at the heart of the subject

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Schrodinger's Cat
October 26, 2017 8:36 am

Dead or Alive,
You said, ” It is very unfortunate that most politicians seem to lack the most basic skills in this regard.” Those who can’t even “teach teachers” become politicians. Average citizens should be conscripted and required to serve time, “in service to their country,” to avoid the problem of professional know-nothing, do-nothing drones telling the competent people what to do. To allay the concerns of those who might say it is un-democratic, it could be handled like impaneling a jury, except that those chosen for legislative duty would be elected from the larger group of eligible citizens.

Bruce Cobb
October 26, 2017 5:29 am

Sounds a lot like Schneider’s “…we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”
Yes indeed. “Climate Communication” is tricky, because lying is tricky. You have to have a knack for it. And a total lack of ethics.

October 26, 2017 5:30 am

I take this study to be an indicator of how politicized science, and life in general, has become. If being honest about your potential biases influences how people react to your conclusions, they are paying more attention to external factors than the rigor of the research. Both are important, just in reverse order.

October 26, 2017 6:09 am

“But our research suggests that in many cases, fully disclosing personal beliefs actually decreases people’s trust depending on the circumstances,” said Kevin Elliott.

Well ya. Maybe like which side of an issue one is on. For or against etc.

Paul Penrose
October 26, 2017 6:23 am

If science by authority is your thing, then trust in the person (messenger) is important. But for real science, what we care about is how they came to their conclusions. Did they follow proper scientific procedures? Is their math correct? Is all their data available? Can their results be replicated by truly independent entities?

Anybody that does not understand this is part of the problem.

October 26, 2017 6:25 am

“Can open and honest scientists win public trust?”

I dunno, do you know any???

Reply to  wws
October 26, 2017 10:24 am

only dead one. You know they don’t try to sell you some BS, or get some grants, and their work got some time to show its value.
But not on all matter, though.

The Original Mike M
October 26, 2017 6:36 am

Why dance around the issue? Just hook em’ up to a polygraph.

Reply to  The Original Mike M
October 26, 2017 8:05 am

That won’t work. They really believe what they are doing is correct. They really believe that the raw data is wrong, because the theory must be right. They will pass the polygraph. Such is the power of paradigm delusion.

October 26, 2017 6:39 am

“Can open and honest scientists win public trust?” Yes, as soon as they stop taking money from governments and stop prattling on with the lies governments tell them to use. Yea, that will about do it, after 20-30 years of not taking money from governments and not prattling on with the lies governments tell them to use. Pretty simple and easy, really.

Schrodinger's Cat
October 26, 2017 7:14 am

I’m a scientist, trust me…

With about 50% of the population now going to university compared with 5% fifty years ago, I’m sure standards have dropped and with them the sense of responsibility that was once associated with the profession. It is now just another job.

Reply to  Schrodinger's Cat
October 26, 2017 8:26 am

There are three conspiracies I absolutely believe in.

1. Feed the kids
2. Cover your ass
3. Spreadsheet man.

People like putting food on the table to feed their kids. If they don’t have kids, they feed their pets. If they don’t have pets, they feed their habits.

People like to keep their jobs to make 1 happen. They cover their ass to make sure it doesn’t get hit.

Spreadsheet man likes to maximize his profit margin. Things that don’t make money slip to the sidelines. I

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Schrodinger's Cat
October 26, 2017 8:44 am

Dead or Alive,
I think that you have touched on one of the significant problems of our times. There is not only the issue of grade inflation, which probably started during the Viet Nam War, but reduced standards to accommodate those above the 50th percentile, instead of the 95th percentile. I suspect that my parents, who dropped out of high school during the Great Depression, were better educated than most college graduates today.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
October 26, 2017 9:50 am

The only thing I find directly comparable is the math, and I have to vehemently disagree. My parent’s high schools didn’t even offer anything equivalent to Algebra 2, while I took Calculus my senior year. My grandparents didn’t even get that. Everything else, you can argue about quality and topics sacrificed, but that’s clear and unambiguous progress. The only thing that has really be sacrificed in exchange for this breadth of topics is mental math, as the rise of calculators has made it increasingly less important.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
October 26, 2017 10:49 am

I would not say most college grads of today, just a substantial majority. For far too long far too many people have gone to college simply to “punch a ticket”, so to speak. Just to get that piece of paper, no real concern for getting an advanced education, just pick up enough this&that to get a job and move on with their lives. They would be far better served by getting a technical education, that is just not happening. Your parents generation, my grandparents, were far more focused on getting a technical education. May have quit high school, they continued to learn in order to advance themselves, even if advancing themselves simply meant not starving and keeping a roof over their heads. That entire mindset has been changed, and not for the better. I see some hope in parts of the millennial generation, I interact with a varied group of them and they are seeming to be becoming more focused on “what I need to do to build a life” than the Xers. I know quite a few of them, and they are un-hire-able. And strangely happy in that status, those of them not killing themselves with pills or meth or fentanyl.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
October 26, 2017 12:55 pm

Clyde, My father was born on a homestead in western Manitoba and he and his brother rode a number of miles on horseback to a one room 1-8 grade school. I remember him helping my sister with her grade 9 Latin. I took Latin a few years after her and it then disappeared from the standard curriculum. Yeah, things have come down a lot (amo, amas, amat, amamas, amatis, amant – love y’all).

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
October 26, 2017 3:37 pm

Since at least about the 1950s, it has been typical to require the mapping of a 1:24,000 quadrangle to obtain a PhD in geology. I remember once stumbling upon a list of dissertations from the University of California. It was one of the earliest, from sometime in the late-1800s. There were like 8 different titles (all the same individual!), that were fairly trivial, like “The Geology of Northern California.” /sarc This was before there was even any infrastructure to allow one to get around easily. I would say that the standards have declined through the decades.

George Daddis
October 26, 2017 7:30 am

Sen. Collins offers failed logic; she tries to tie the fact that “We have spent $35 billion on disaster assistance and flood and crop insurance over the last decade” which of course is made up of funds for disasters that have ALWAYS occurred naturally, to “the Federal government cannot afford to spend additional funds…”.

The assumption that disasters will get WORSE is buried in her second assertion (begging the question) and has nothing to do with her opening premise.

As others have predicted, the fraudulent “13 Agency Report” issued by the GAO is a boon to the “believers” from the last administration, and having a GOP Senator jump on their bandwagon is disheartening.
I can’t believe her staff is that ignorant; it is more likely Susan is trying to walk a tightrope appealing to both sides to get re-elected. I hope that strategy backfires.

Reply to  George Daddis
October 26, 2017 1:12 pm

There will be huge repercussions if the global temperature stops rising and there are more hurricanes, floods, and so forth. People will be furious they were lied to and are still getting towns wiped out, wiht weather damage everywhere as it has always been. I suspect this is why the “outcome” of global warming is worse weather and the time scale for “fixing it” is decades out. This makes the preachers safe if they turn out to have been very, very wrong and things get worse as the temperatures cool.

Reply to  Sheri
October 27, 2017 7:57 am

There will always be more hurricanes, floods and such. It is called weather and there is absolutely nothing humans can do to stop or alter it.

October 26, 2017 7:57 am

I believe the error bars on this survey might be quite large.

October 26, 2017 9:14 am

It is time to substitute `specialist` for `expert`. Then qualify the former with evidence of specialism on what.

I am fed up with the media pandering to so-called, often self-styled, `experts`. For instance, there are too many of them in the ranks of the civil service or on committees advising governments.

October 26, 2017 10:19 am

Damn it, BPA is not an additive in polycarbonate, It is residual monomer and is difficult to remove completely in a condensition polymer. Additives have purposes, what is the intentional purpose of residual monomer in polycarbonate?


Reply to  TPG
October 26, 2017 10:50 am


One thing that is appalling, to me, is the extremely poor knowledge of chemistry. Everything material is a mixture of chemicals. All chemicals are harmless and all chemicals are harmful. The conditions that determine this are related to what chemical, in what concentration, and what are the results to what chemical reactions. IOW, dose and route make the medicine and dose and route make the poison. Or, IOW the solution to pollution is dilution. Then there is the fact that all biological life forms are subject to bodily death. It is only a matter of when and how. The death of one form feeds another. Are there limits? Sure. What should these be? Determine the costs and the benefits. Shouting “toxic” doesn’t make it so, necessarily; and given the robustness of biological life, the LNT theory is false. Look up dose response curves and their logical consequences for LD 50s or 90s or whatever cutoff you want. For biological systems, there are always thresholds, even though they’re variable.

Reply to  cdquarles
October 26, 2017 12:51 pm

good on you Your knowledge of chemistry is not extremely poor.


Clyde Spencer
Reply to  cdquarles
October 26, 2017 3:39 pm

Right on!

Reply to  TPG
October 26, 2017 11:21 am

My understanding of what constitutes “food grade” plastics is removal of monomers. The issue, then, is what the proper standards for residual monomers should be. Depolymerization is also a concern for “food grade” plastics.

Reply to  Phil
October 26, 2017 12:53 pm

Are we all here chemists. Good reply.

October 26, 2017 11:17 am

In God we Trust, but when it comes to Science, Public Policy and Justice, please show me the evidence (and be prepared to replicate it).

Gary Pearse
October 26, 2017 1:03 pm

So these guys cooked up fake papers, let it all hang out in public and were surprised when they weren’t trusted? This experiment was already done in climate science and got the same results. What is wrong with the neo-left. Things aren’t right just because they fit your world view and global plan. Science isn’t a malleable medium for supporting ideologues.

October 26, 2017 1:13 pm

I’d trust a used car salesman more than anyone who claimed to be a climate scientist

Greg Cavanagh
October 26, 2017 2:34 pm

Trust is earned.
When you earn my trust, you will have my trust.

October 26, 2017 2:59 pm

When they start a statement with “what we know is that” I get suspicious … much of what “we have known” on diet and climate and health has been proven to be wrong that it has lost its effect

October 27, 2017 12:27 pm

Objective science IS socially responsible science. The person posing these questions is nuts.

Svend Ferdinandsen
October 27, 2017 2:41 pm

To a start they could minimise the use of “can” and “maybe”. Are they scientists or fortune tellers. They should investigate untill they could tell that it is so, and not only that it could be.

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