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Why should we trust scientists, anyway?

Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

Why should we trust scientists, anyway? Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard professor of history of science, tackles that question in a recent TED videoOreskes co-authored Merchants of Doubt, which told the story of a small group of corporate-funded scientists "who fought the scientific evidence and spread confusion on many of the most important issues of our time," such as climate change.

Though these scientists are often called "skeptics" in the media, Oreskes argues that skepticism is crucial to forming a scientific consensus in the first place. "Science is intrinsically conservative. It's quite hard to persuade the scientific community to say, 'Yes, we know something, this is true,'" she says in the video.

Oreskes argues that our trust in science shouldn't be "blind trust," but rather based in evidence. "And that means that scientists have to become better communicators. They have to explain to us not just what they know, but how they know it. And it means that we have to become better listeners."

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