Science Journals’ Political Meddling Erodes Trust in Science, Doesn’t Change Political Views

According to a new study published in Nature, Human Behavior by economist Floyd Zhang, the diversion of science journals into the political arena has harmed these publications’ credibility and further eroded the public’s trust in the larger scientific community. The study focuses its criticisms on Nature, one of the world’s leading journals and the flagship publication of the portfolio that includes Nature Human Behavior. 

A month before the 2020 presidential election, Nature published a controversial editorial supporting then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Criticizing then-President Donald Trump’s “disastrous response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the editorial also claimed the former president had isolationist and nationalistic tendencies. The prospect of Trump’s re-election, warned Nature, was unthinkable. 

According to Zhang, such high-profile political endorsements by major scientific journals raise numerous concerns, including “backlash against the endorsing organizations and scientific expertise.” 

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