Corporations and politicians have used lies, misinformation, and deceptive marketing campaigns to erode trust in the data and analyses of science. Tobacco marketers knew this when they weaponized their approach to “science.” They confused correlation and causation to make people doubt the link between smoking and cancer. Many corporations that depend upon fossil fuels want us to deny their impact on our health and climate despite overwhelming data that point to dangerous changes in our climate.
Humans are primates and they tend to follow the leader. When political authorities denounce the finding of science, that denunciation often leads to a backlash against the data rather than to its analysis. When given the choice between facts and power, we tend to choose power–if that power is perceived as legitimate. And the rejection of careful, peer-reviewed, replicable studies in favour of feel-good predictions is dangerous not just for us. It can leave scars on future generations as well.