Publications des scientifiques de l'IRD

Schultz Emilien, Ward J. K. (2021). Public perceptions of scientific advice : toward a science savvy public culture ?. Public Health, 194, p. 86-88. ISSN 0033-3506.

Titre du document
Public perceptions of scientific advice : toward a science savvy public culture ?
Année de publication
Type de document
Article référencé dans le Web of Science WOS:000661809200017
Schultz Emilien, Ward J. K.
Public Health, 2021, 194, p. 86-88 ISSN 0033-3506
Objectives: Both the political appetite for a science-based coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) policy and its acceptability to the public are little understood, at a time of sharp distrust not only of governments but also of scientists and their journals' review practices. We studied the case of France, where the independent Scientific Council on COVID-19 was appointed by President Macron on March 12, 2020. Study design: We conducted a survey on a representative sample of the French adult population. Methods: Our data were collected by the French Institute of Public Opinion using a self-administered online questionnaire. This was completed by a sample of 1016 people stratified to match French official census statistics for gender, age, occupation, and so on. We conducted statistical analysis using Python (Pandas-SciPy-Statsmodels) with Chi-squared and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests to control for statistical significance. Results: Intense media coverage has given the council a very high public profile, with three respondents out of four (73%) having heard about it. Perceptions are positive but complex. French citizens expect science to be important in political decision-making. Four of five (81.5%) want political decisions, in general, to be based on scientific knowledge. But one in two (55%) says that the government has not relied enough on science and only 36% are satisfied with the government's crisis management to date. Although most feel that the council has a legitimate advisory role even in situations of uncertainty (only 15% disagree), it is not perceived as fully independent. Only 44% think that it directly represents the scientific community, and only one of three people considers it completely independent from the government (39%) and the pharmaceutical industry (36%). Conclusions: Our study confirms that while the transparency of scientific advice is important, it alone cannot ensure public confidence in political decision-making. We suggest that efforts made today to instill a 'science-savvy' public culturedone that allows the complex articulation between scientific knowledge, uncertainty, and political decision-making to be understood and accounted for would greatly benefit evidence-based policy in future crises.
Plan de classement
Entomologie médicale / Parasitologie / Virologie [052] ; Santé : aspects socioculturels, économiques et politiques [056]
Description Géographique
Fonds IRD [F B010082238]
Identifiant IRD