In 2018, 3M began publishing public attitudes toward science around the world. Before the pandemic, 3M’s figures showed a general drop in trust in science and scientists.
Then COVID-19 hit the world and everything changed: in its latest survey, the multinational company 3M found that the downward trend was drastically reversed, and confidence in science showed a large increase since March 2020.
In fact, in the context of the coronavirus, trust in science and scientists is the highest in three years since these surveys began.
For its State of the Science Index (SOSI) surveys, 3M targets a demographically representative group of more than 1,000 participants in about a dozen countries: including Brazil, the United States, Canada, Germany and Japan.
The latest SOSI survey was conducted in eleven countries during July and August 2020, approximately six months after the pandemic.
89% of those surveyed said they trust science; 86% trust scientists; 77% are more likely, as a result of the pandemic, to agree that science needs more funding; and more than half (54%) agree that science is very important to their daily lives, a double-digit increase over pre-pandemic data (44%).
Completing the picture, 92% of global respondents believe that actions must follow science to contain the global pandemic, revealing another measure of confidence in science.
COVID-19 has made people more sensitive and appreciative of what science can do
“As people face the most challenging health crisis of our lives, science is more relevant, more trustworthy and more important to people around the world,” explained Mike Roman, chairman of the board and CEO of 3M. .
People who said, “I’m skeptical of science,” fell 7 points to 28% during this summer’s pandemic, from a peak of 35% last year. Relatedly, respondents who only believe that science aligns with their personal beliefs is down six percentage points since the question was first asked in 2018.
A renewed confidence in science also appears to translate into action: More than half of respondents (54%) agree that COVID-19 has made them more likely to advocate for science, while pre-pandemic data showed that only 20% would support science by debating its merits with others.
When asked about the problems people want to solve the most, unsurprisingly, finding a cure for emerging viruses (like COVID-19) ranks at the top (80%), followed by finding a cure for other major diseases (62%).
Outside of healthcare, social justice and the environment are among the highest priorities. STEM equity / social justice (advocating for racial equality in society and / or ensuring underrepresented minorities have access to STEM education) is the top non-health issue (55%), and addressing the effects of change climate is the second (51%). ).