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UNH Poll: 43% of N.H. Residents Think Scientists Alter Findings to Suit Agenda

New research from UNH shows close to half of New Hampshire residents think scientists alter their findings to get the answers they want. That’s raising concerns about whether the public will trust advice from public health experts.

The survey from the Carsey School of Public Policy asked New Hampshire residents about the threat posed by the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

While most said they trust government sources for information on Zika, the survey also found 43 percent of respondents think scientists change their findings to get the answers they want. People in that group were more likely to not consider Zika a serious threat.

Tom Safford is lead author of the report. He says the findings are cause for concern, particularly when it comes to public health efforts like combating Zika.

“When you’re trying to deal with an infectious disease, all it takes is a few people not being vigilant and then these things can spread and that’s sort of the scary end of the story.”

Safford says public health officials will need to confront growing skepticism of science when communicating their findings to the public.

Jason Moon is a senior reporter and producer on the Document team. He has created longform narrative podcast series on topics ranging from unsolved murders, to presidential elections, to secret lists of police officers.

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