Science Journal Nature Admits Biden Endorsement Damaged Their Reputation
Leading science journal Nature admitted on Monday that their endorsement of Joe Biden in the 2020 US election harmed their credibility, trust in science, and made virtually no difference when it came to influencing voters one way or the other.
In 2020, Nature endorsed Joe Biden in the US presidential election. A survey finds that viewing the endorsement did not change people’s views of the candidates, but caused some to lose confidence in Nature and in US scientists generally https://t.co/lvrgXmsrl5— nature (@Nature) March 20, 2023
According to a survey conducted in July and early August 2021, random Trump and Biden supporters were notified of Nature's endorsement, while a control group was given irrelevant information about the journal's new website design.
As James Billot writes in The Post;
...the strength of reaction to the endorsement was particularly acute among Trump supporters, with treated participants (i.e. those who viewed the endorsement) scaling much higher on negative attitudes towards Nature‘s impartiality and knowledge. For Biden supporters, there was a marginal uptick in positive attitudes.
Besides reducing trust in Nature among Trump supporters, the endorsement also had a cascading effect on their attitudes towards science and scientists more generally. Trump supporters were less likely to report high levels of trust towards US scientists than Biden supporters after the endorsement, and the gap is larger for treated participants.
In addition, the shifts in trust in Nature resulted in lower demand for Covid-related information from the journal among Trump supporters. Results found that, at the height of the Delta variant surge in the US, the endorsement led to a -14.2 percentage point reduction in the frequency at which Trump supporters requested Nature articles, whereas the upswing for Biden supporters was negligible.
These results show that Nature’s endorsement had a hugely divisive effect on its readership. Treated Trump and Biden supporters became two to four times more polarised than the control participants on these stated measures of trust in Nature. Meanwhile, treated Trump supporters were 38% less likely than control Trump supporters to request stories from the publication’s website. What’s more, the endorsement had little effect on changing participants’ opinions about the two presidential candidates, rendering it ineffective.
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I'm hard pressed to think of a better way to destroy the trust of (about half or more) of the public in our scientific institutions than to have these institutions openly display their political biases. https://t.co/L7lMV07fqr— Jay Bhattacharya (@DrJBhattacharya) March 21, 2023