Why don't Americans trust experts?

Dr. Daniel Varga testifies
Chief Clinical Officer and Senior Vice President of Texas Health Resources Dr. Daniel Varga testifies through video conferencing during a hearing on Ebola before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee October 16, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

Experts in Texas have insisted that the public is safe after the Ebola diagnosis, but panic has still spread.

A Gallup poll released this past summer finds that Americans are less trusting of "experts"--from folks in the military to the Supreme Court.

More on the poll from The Week:

Only three institutions top 50 percent -- the military, small businesses, and the police. The military's numbers have been generally rising since the end of the Vietnam War, if you look at Gallup's historical numbers, but most of the institutions are more in line with organized religion:

Now, polls are an imperfect yard stick to measure public trust in expertise, and "organized religion" is not the same as your pastor, nor is a doctor "the medical system." (The family doctor is actually pretty trusted these days.) But I don't think it's too controversial to suggest lots of Americans believe that, given 15 minutes and a Wikipedia article, or a short segment compiled and edited by the (not very trusted) TV news, they are expert enough to have a strong opinion about a given topic, with a high degree of confidence that their opinion is correct.

And facts aren't powerful enough to change our opinions. From Boston Globe:

In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

On The Daily Circuit, we discuss why Americans find it so hard to trust experts. What's fueling the mistrust? On issues including climate change, vaccines and politics, how do facts strengthen mistrust and fuel doubt?

Before you keep reading ...

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