As a confirmed skeptic, I agree that it’s a good idea to not accept blindly the statements of others but to consider them and weigh the evidence when it exists. However, that is not the same thing as saying “I never believe X, period” – which is a stupidly superficial response.
But it’s easy and comforting and a lot of us use it. Including me: For example, anything said by “Church” of Scientology I regard as crap without a second thought.
Apparently some people have roughly the same regard for the Centers for Disease Control, as a study from the Carsey School of Public Policy at UNH indicates – and those people are much less likely to believe that Zika is a public health threat.
(We found that many Granite Staters have real concerns about the practice of science, believing scientists change their findings to get the answers they want. More importantly, individuals who questioned the integrity of scientists are less likely to believe Zika is a threat, have confidence in the government’s ability to combat the virus, trust the CDC, and to prioritize emergency funding. These results suggest that health officials working to engage the public in efforts to control the spread of Zika must not only discuss risks associated with the virus and mechanisms of transmission, but also confront science skepticism and potential concerns about the integrity of the scientists gathering data related to Zika and other infectious diseases.
Speaking of skepticism, the study is based on polling done by the UNH Survey Center, whose final pre-election polls (https://cola.unh.edu/sites/cola.unh.edu/files/research_publications/gsp2016_fall_pressengov110616.pdf) were wildly wrong. Most notably: Van Ostern over Sununu, 55%-44%.
So exactly how much credibility should I attach to this study?